Annoying neighbors...where Do I Begin?

Updated on May 05, 2018
S.R. asks from Scottsdale, AZ
16 answers

Somewhat new neighbors moved next door. Problems include:
loud music (outside)
their dogs bark non stop whenever I go in our back yard (there is a fence, but on a hill so they can see in our yard)
They have a meat smoker that puts out a ton of smoke and it gets in our house triggering my husband's and daughter's asthma -
They put their trash cans in front of our house on trash day and roll them over our lawn to the street and back
They have cars everywhere - many parked non stop in front of our house.
I am not a confrontational person and I don't want to start a feud.
We know them casually, but I usually don't get buddy buddy with neighbors.
Any suggestions?

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S.L.

answers from Denver on

If you have an HOA, you could ask them to give everyone reminders about being considerate with pets, trash cans, cars, BBQ, etc.
You don't have to name the problem.

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T.F.

answers from Dallas on

This is when an HOA is your friend! Even with an HOA there can be issues.

I have a row of red tip shrubs that block any access from street to fence area. We share an iron fence and mine is lined with red tips

I don't have near an issue like you but if I were you and had no HOA then I'd talk directly to my neighbors, you may have to involve police.

My neighbor is a POS and we've not spoken in 4 years. They never acknowledged my husband's death after living next to each other over 10 years. That really pissed me off . We did a lot of nice things for them. I just hope I'm driving the karma bus someday!!

5 moms found this helpful
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J.F.

answers from Las Vegas on

If you have an HOA, it would be time to look at the rules that govern your neighborhood (usually known as CC&Rs). You should have been given a copy during the purchase of your home. Ask for guidance from your HOA board. HOA rules are usually very specific about cars and parking on the street, so you may have some backup there.

If you don't have an HOA, it might be more difficult to enforce the multiple car situation, but you may want to check with the city to see if there are any ordinances about that. Also check your state laws and city ordinances about barking dogs. All cities have specific rules that govern animals and animal control, unless you live out in some unincorporated area of the county, although it doesn't sound like that given your proximity to the neighbors.

I'd seriously consider planting a dense line of shrubs and trees to make a physical boundary between your yards. Is it fair that you have to do this? No, but it's cheaper, easier, and quicker than litigation. With neighbors like this, it might also be nice to have that separation and privacy that trees and shrubs can provide. If you ask for help at a nursery, you can get advice on what to plant and how to make a beautiful border that will prevent your neighbors from pushing trash cans as through your yard as a shortcut. Just make sure you double check property lines before you plant.

Since you probably cannot do much about their meat smoker, you might also want to create a better physical barrier with trees and shrubs in your back yard as well as your front. It would help decrease the visibility into your yard, offering you more privacy, and if the new trees and shrubs are tall enough and large enough, it may also help to block some of the smoke.

Sure, it would be easiest to talk with them first, and you probably should, but is it likely they are just going to agree to all of your very reasonable requests? If it were me, I'd try talking but have backup plans ready to go.

Just remember to be cordial when dealing with them because even if they are jerks and refuse to accommodate your requests, they may still have to sign off on any landscape improvements like the trees and shrubs (if you have an HOA and it requires you to do this as our neighborhood does).

Good luck. It's sad that some neighbors don't stop and think about how their behavior affects others.

5 moms found this helpful

B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

An HOA would be your best friend right now.
If you have one - read up on the rules and start reporting violations.
Many towns have parking laws - look them up and see what applies.

4 moms found this helpful

D.B.

answers from Boston on

If you don't have a homeowners' association, then you have to find a mix of being friendly/outgoing and finding alternate uses for the "problem" areas of the property.

I like the chicken wire idea below. You can also put some small stakes in the area and put some string around it, as people do when they reseed a patch of grass. Whether you actually put seed down is up to you, but I'd go through the motions. Act as if you have no idea why the grass is flat or not growing in that patch, rather than confront them. Another option would be to put a line of cheap terra cotta flower pots there, as if you are planning an arrangement in that area and you are just putting things there for placement while you decide on the exact layout. They'll have no choice but to take their cans to the street another way. But you do have to do something "for real" with the area because otherwise it's really passive/aggressive and that's the sort of thing that comes off as a confrontation and starts a feud. Simple things that you plan to complete work best. Since you are very concerned about that strip of grass, I assume you care about gardening and vegetation, so it wouldn't be much of a stretch for you to work on something. If they wander over, you can always make conversation about it: "I can't keep the grass healthy in this area and was thinking about either planting ground cover or some perennials. Do you have any experience with either one? I'd love some tips!"

Do they put them next to your cans? Is it possible that they think they are being helpful to the garbage collectors by putting all the cans together? I'd allow for that, but I think you can also easily put something else in that area of the street - like park your own car in the spot they have chosen. When neighbors get along, sometimes they cooperate on projects right on the property line. I have friends down the street who have an area that was unsightly and subject to erosion - they and their neighbors split the cost and worked together to make a nice bed with some plants and some bark mulch.

If they park in front of your house all the time (as opposed to an occasional party), then I'd come up with some yard work you plan to do in that exact spot. Say you are raking or weeding or planting, and would they mind moving their cars in front of their own property so you can do some stuff right at the curb there. Be nice and say thank you, and then take your time finishing that project.

The dogs - it depends on what hours of the day they are barking, but you can call Animal Control and find out if there's a noise ordinance. Making friends with the dogs might be a good idea. Same with making friends with the human owners. You say you don't usually "get buddy buddy" with neighbors, but does that mean you don't introduce yourself, take a plate of cookies over, or do something else neighborly? Maybe you're going to the store and ask them if they need anything, or say you're headed to the recycling center and perhaps they have stuff you can drop off? Or maybe you get coupons in the mail for car products and you notice they have so many cars so perhaps they can use the discounts? You don't have to party together or tell them your deepest family secrets, but cordiality rather than isolationism usually makes people more sensitive to others.

I wonder if the smoker would bother you as much if these other things didn't? Sometimes the accumulated list of complaints is overwhelming, but if you eliminate a few, the remaining ones don't seem so bad. There house and smoker must be incredibly close to your property line if it's getting inside the house and triggering asthma. Can you ask them nicely if they could move their smoker elsewhere since your child is suffering? I'd probably do that once I'd made some effort to be cordial though.

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M.G.

answers from Portland on

I would start with the biggest concern - the smoker. "Hi, I don't mean to inconvenience you and there's no way for you to know this - but our daughter has quite serious asthma. Is there any way you could relocate your smoker to the other side of the property/house? Just the way the wind blows, brings the smoke into our home even with the windows shut." (kind of thing). We have the same issue - and it's a real problem.

The noise and dogs .. not much you can do unless it's excess/late. Then you can usually complain somewhere if talking to them doesn't help. It would have to be quite bad before I would approach a neighbor (like to the point where I can't enjoy my property). We have kids over and a pool so I tend to figure these things balance out.

The parked cars - how about you park your car there for a while. We did that at our old house when our neighbor's son and his friends were using our spot. They weren't ill intentioned - they were just young. We needed it when our kids had bikes or hockey games going on, and after a week, the mom clued in and spoke to them. I just made a point of thanking them casually for leaving the space free for me to use with the van. Maybe there's a way you can work it for your family (say you need it for guests that are visiting, etc.). Thank them for helping you out (even if they're not) and you'll get more cooperation.

I don't know what the deal is with the garbage cans - that's just weird. Do they not have access themselves? I'd have hubby offer to help fix their access (if they have issues) or put in a hedge or something it it really bugs you. I think that would bug me over time .. I know, these things wear away if you've got other problems with them.

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❤.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

I would do what I could to help me deal with this before I confront them.
It could turn ugly. I have had bad neighbors once and it was a long 20 years.
I would not attempt to talk to them about much but try to deal with what I could on my own.
For instance, I would plant tall shrubs on my side near the fence where they can see over. I would also think about adding a fence on top of the fence on my side. Like adding more wood planks that were cut in half or get that arbor garden wood lattice thing and nail it to the top of my side. Except you can see through that. Wood planks are better.
I would deal with the trash cans but maybe put something on my side of the yard so they couldn't drag it over. If you own the property, you could put up a small fence, big boulders etc.

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S.J.

answers from Des Moines on

As far as the lawn, I had a problem with neighbors walking on our lawn. I put a strip of chicken wire down with a little grass seed under it on their "pathway". That put a stop to that since it was obvious they couldn't walk on the chicken wire and it was also obvious that my grass had been trampled.
As far as the loud dogs and music, you could say something like you're trying to take a nap and could they turn it down or bring their dogs in. Same thing with the smoke. I'd just be honest that it kicks off the asthma...it's certainly understandable. Maybe they could have a fan to blow the smoke the other direction or move their smoker on a different side of their house.
There's probably not much to do about the cars, but if you are having company, you could ask them to move them so your company doesn't have to walk as far.

2 moms found this helpful

T.M.

answers from Las Vegas on

Unfortunately we cant pick our neighbors.
Maybe bake some cookies and take them over and then try to nicely let them know about some of the irritants. Is there a better location for their smoker? Also if you pet their dogs maybe they wont bark anymore when they know its you in the yard.
Its a free world and people definitely dont like to be told what they cant do in their own yard. It's hard to solve neighbor problems but I would try the kind way first. It will get a lot worse if you are bitchy for sure.

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M.D.

answers from Pittsburgh on

If you go to them with a list of stuff, they will ignore everything you say, so prioritize. What is the single most important thing on this list? For me, it would be the smoker/asthma issue. Explain about the asthma and ask if they could move it to a different location.
For the other stuff: landscaping at the corner of the yard can help with that issue, and it's none of your business how many cars they have and you don't own the street so I think you have have to accept the street parking annoyance. Similarly, if the music is during daylight hours, you may have to live with it. If it is late at night on a regular basis - check with your municipality to find out what the noise ordinances are.

For the dogs, you could consider putting up one of those electronic devices that try to get dogs to stop barking. I seriously considered buying one when I had a neighbor that had yapping dogs (they let them out at 5AM every morning), but those neighbors moved before I got around to buying it so I don't know how well it works, but it might be worth a try. Something like this... https://www.amazon.com/BIG-DEAL-Ultrasonic-Controller-Det...

1 mom found this helpful

W.W.

answers from Washington DC on

S.,

What are the laws in your area about noise and quiet time?

Do you belong to an HOA? If so - what are the rules that govern the cluster of homes regarding trash time, location, number of cars and quiet time?

If you don't live in an HOA, you need to contact your local police department NON-EMERGENCY number and ask them how to proceed.

I don't understand how they get their trash in front of your house if you live behind them.

Have you tried talking with them?
Do they OWN the house or RENT IT?
If they RENT it? Do you know the owners?

Tell us what you HAVE done and how long this has been going on. I get not being confrontational, however, have you said ANYTHING to them? ANYTHING AT ALL? If you haven't? They can't read your mind and know what is going on.

I'd personally welcome them to the neighborhood and let them know that while you enjoy the smell of their smoker? It's triggers asthma attacks in my husband and daughter. They may tell you to close your windows. Or they may move it. You won't know until you TALK WITH THEM.

If you don't want to deal with them? You're either going to have to get the police involved when music is on past quiet time or have your HOA deal with them.

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D..

answers from Miami on

I really like what Mynewnickname and Margie recommend. And I had the same issue with the neighbor parking in front of my house years ago. Family dropped by one day and thought we had company, so they left.

I did what Margie suggests - I started parking MY car there. They knew that I had plenty of room in my own driveway and they asked me why I was parking there. I was nice, but honest. I told them that the front of my house was for me and my own company, not for my neighbors. I told her about family coming by and thinking I had company and leaving. She said she understood, and they never parked there again. I stopped putting my car there and that was that.

I agree that the smoker is the most important item and the one you should ask about. It's for health reasons and so you don't have to take your daughter or husband to the ER. For the rest, landscaping, more barriers and that anti-barking device...

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N.K.

answers from Miami on

Do you have an HOA? I hope so. See, this is why I am somewhat on the fence about HOAs...I don't want to feel like I am indebted to someone for life, because I bought a home that has an HOA and that debt never goes away. Plus, I would hate someone telling me I cannot plant a certain plant in my yard, or paint my door red, or white, or whatever color I want, but on the other hand, at times like these when you have troublemaker neighbors or people trashing up their yard and affecting the value of your home, you're not just stuck dealing with it...you have the HOA to back you up and deal with the violator directly, so it's no longer your problem.

For the smoker: If they refuse to move it, get an industrial-sized fan and blow it back THEIR way. Are there other neighbors you could get involved in this? The needs of one should not outweigh the needs of many and if 10 people complain about it, it will carry more weight than if only one person does. Look into this, but I am sure that there is a metro police department or something of the sort that deals with neighborhood or countywide issues such as these. My former brother-in-law used to enjoy building bonfires in his yard. Metro police were called, told him that the smoke bothered his neighbors, and if he continued with the bonfires, he would be fined and his property would be liened accordingly if he did not pay those fines.

The barking dogs and loud music: I am sure there are ordinances around. Again, metro police. Said brother-in-law enjoyed having people over for the bonfires and played loud music. Despite it being only 8-9 p.m., police told him it was unreasonably loud and he needed to turn the music down or they would make him put an end to the party. Pretty sure they also came in handy when his dogs were barking, and animal control was threatened to be called if he wasn't able to keep them under control.

The trash cans: Can you put in some stakes in the yard or some other sort of barrier that will not allow them to get through and sort of shows the property lines? How about some solar lights, like these: https://searchengineoptimization4.info/wp-content/uploads...? They create an inexpensive barrier, and serve a purpose. Put them all around the property, if possible, to make it seem like you wanted better lighting, and it's not about them. A fence might cost too much and if you put some plants, they might ruin your landscaping by going over them anyway. Or maybe some rocks or pebbles that will make it impossible for them to drag their trash cans through there?

Cars: I have been to residential neighborhoods where you would think you could park, but the homeowner put up signs such as this one: https://www.myparkingsign.com/xp2/clipart/k2-3099.gif and dissuaded anyone from parking. Sometimes they used two paint cans and a string on the driveway with a plastic sign in the middle saying "do not park" the way people do when they have just put brand new asphalt on their driveway and don't want anyone driving on it. Or caution tape, like this: https://media.angieslist.com/s3fs-public/styles/widescree... Maybe any of these would be a good solution and drive the point home. The only issue might be if they come knocking on your door asking if you could allow THEM or a guest of theirs to park, and you may have a hard time saying no without feeling guilty and standing firm, but I think most people would not have the nerve to question their neighbor's desire for privacy and for no trespassing on their own property...

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R.J.

answers from Tampa on

Geez, WHAT is it with people who have dogs that bark all the time and don't care? That drives me crazy! When we moved here the neighbor behind us walked over with her dog, who we noticed barked a lot, to tell us that our kids playing in the pool made her dog nervous??? Well let me tell you that dog barked ALL THE TIME. Constantly, even when we weren't outside. We could never have our windows open, ever! When I saw the for sale sign go up, I was ecstatic!
Then guess what? The new neighbors have TWO dogs who bark all the time. And they know it, when we introduced ourselves they said, yeah our dogs bark all the time....
So, I bought an anti barking device. We only turn it on when we are outside trying to enjoy our yard and the barking doesn't stop. I don't leave it on all the time, but it has really helped.
As far as the smoker, I would nicely approach them and just let them know the smoke gets in to your house and triggers your husband and daughter, and could they please put it somewhere else?
Then maybe put a stay off the lawn sign in your yard? LOL They sound very disrespectful, which doesn't seem all that uncommon anymore.
Best of luck!

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N.B.

answers from Oklahoma City on

Dogs bark. That's not something they can stop.

The street is free parking. In front of your house is not your property. It's a public street. Point is that anyone can park there. It's not your property.

As for the smoker, that's something they could be a little more considerate about but if they want to smoke meat in their own yard it's allowed. I have a neighbor that burns his fireplace all winter. The smoke comes right to my house. I keep the doors and windows closed and we have strong filters on our heat/AC unit to keep much of the smoke out of our house. When he smokes meat I ask him to let us know so we can toss on a slab of ribs, then we go find things to do that day.

We get along with him and work with the smoke. We love our neighbor dearly, he's a very good neighbor.

I'd find ways to work around the smoker stuff. The other things are things you'll have with any neighbor. Other than moving out in the country where you wouldn't have any close neighbors you're always going to have things that you don't like.

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K.K.

answers from Washington DC on

I have had many neighbors like that and I have asthma myself, so I personally feel for your family. LOL maybe you should take their trash cans and roll them back to their yard/lawn whenever that is their space. LOL. Maybe roll them in their yard? Its their trash cans, they need to put them in their space. I'm not trying to be evil here, but it is their trash cans!

As far as the dog barking and loud music, I would call non emergency (don't give a name) and just report it each time it happens. I've had many neighbors with barking dogs. Literally, one neighbor who moved out a year or two ago, had dogs that barked non-stop from inside and outside the house, plus they always left the doors wide open and the windows. I didn't get much sleep. People called in all the time, they were taken to court.

I'm not one to start trouble, but if its their trash cans wheel them back over to their yard! No need to start a feud, but you need to do something.

:) Stay strong! I got blackout curtains, they help with the noise reduction and I also have a sound machine (which I rarely use). Good luck!

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