Everyone thinks they live in a cool neighborhood, with happy neighbors, great block parties and fun kids. Mostly that’s true, but just sometimes, there might be a dispute between neighbors. Here are common issues that crop up between neighbors, even in the best neighborhoods.
Boundary disputes often arise when a homeowner erects a fence along a line that might not be the actual line between properties. A survey should be done to determine the correct placement before the fence goes up. Sometimes neighbors can simply agree on a boundary based on a physical landmark such as a tree, and then file deeds to indicate the boundary.
In certain situations — including when a survey or talking will not resolve a boundary dispute — a property owner may file a quiet title lawsuit and request that a judge determine boundary lines. This procedure is generally more expensive than a survey due to the legal filing fees.
Another potential sore spot is with animals. A neighbor may be raising chickens in the backyard, or their dogs and cats trespass onto your property. Dog bites are another common — and alarming — issue.
Many communities regulate farm animals or dog breeds within city limits or neighborhoods. Some real estate deeds specifically prohibit animals normally found on farms.
As for animal bites, some places hold the owner liable, both criminally and civilly, if they allow their dog to injure someone. Sometimes, the owner is liable only if they knew the animal was dangerous.
Barking dogs. Loud music. Revving car engines. The ways that neighbors find to irritate each other is almost endless.
Most communities have ordinances that prohibit excessive, unnecessary and unreasonable levels of noise. There are also laws that set aside certain times of the day when there is supposed to be a general quiet. These hours and days vary by community.
How do you solve an issue with noise? The most obvious is to talk to the neighbor and work out a solution. If necessary, let them know about penalties for noise by sending a copy of the local ordinance. The next step might be calling the police to stop the noise. The most expensive option is to file a lawsuit in small claims court. Evidence you have gathered about the noise will help prove your case. You may win a cash settlement plus a court order to stop the noise.
With luck, a backyard conversation can solve a neighbor dispute and you’ll return to being the coolest and best neighborhood in town. Soon you and your neighbors can plan your next block party and make some noise together.
Laurie G. Steiner is a member of the law firm of Solomon, Steiner & Peck, Ltd. She is a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation and the Ohio State Bar Association and an Accredited attorney for the preparation, presentation and prosecution of claims for veteran’s benefits before the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). She practices in the areas of Elder Law, Medicaid, VA and Disability Planning, and Estate and Trust Planning and Administration.