If you've begun to put out feelers in your local real estate market to get an idea of the price you may be able to fetch for your home, you may find yourself continually returning to one nagging issue – the eyesore(s) on the lawn next door. If your neighbors have spent years cultivating a collection of inoperable vehicles, kids' toys, appliances, or other large items on their front lawn, it could be affecting your home's resale value and marketability through no fault of your own. Read on to learn more about your legal options if you're worried about how your neighbor's lawn is impacting the value of your home (or even your ability to sell your home at all).
What should you do if you're worried about how your neighbor's mess is affecting your home?
Your first step should be to research your area's zoning codes and regulations to see whether they address the items on your neighbor's lawn. For example, many city and county zoning regulations prohibit the storage of inoperable vehicles outside a driveway or garage; violation of this regulation could mean fines or other civil costs for each day the problem goes unresolved.
In other cases, there may be more general regulations against "clutter," again resulting in fines and civil penalties for violation once your neighbor is given the orders to clean up. By making a report to your local zoning board (or even an anonymous complaint), you'll be able to get the ball rolling on the cleanup process.
What are your legal options if your neighbor refuses to clean up his or her yard?
If your neighbor's conduct isn't implicating your local zoning regulations or if even the threat of monetary fines hasn't been enough to compel your neighbor to clean up his or her yard, you may want to consult a real estate attorney to determine whether you have grounds to file a civil complaint.
If you're able to show that your neighbor's actions had a distinct financial impact on you – for example, by lowering the amount offered for your home – you may be able to collect damages from your neighbor. In other cases, you could receive a court order for injunctive relief, requiring your neighbor to clean up his or her mess or face additional sanctions. However, because each state's real estate laws are different, it's important to consult a local real estate attorney who is most familiar with the practices and processes in your area.