Posted by Marie Presti on 6/4/2018

Even in expensive, upscale communities like Newton, Mass., an eyesore next door can plague homeowners. A home that isn't being maintained like others in the neighborhood can negatively affect your visual sense and in some extreme cases, impact property values. It might be an overgrown yard, a fence in need of repair, excessive noise, unruly pets, paint peeling on the home or even a car or boat parked in front of the home that hasn't moved in weeks.

A client of mine recently wanted me to list her home, but she had some concerns about her next door neighbor's yard. She said it looked like Miss Havisham's place in "Great Expectations." I explained that in my experience, most people want to be good neighbors and may be willing to correct an issue once it is brought to their attention. A practical but possibly confrontational solution is to contact the neighbor and describe your perception of the issue. (They may not always agree with the same urgency and it might be necessary to seek other remedies.) One way I recommend for getting the problem solved sooner rather than later: I tell homeowner(s) to offer help. They can either physically go over to do some of the cleanup. Or, they can offer to help pay someone to take care of the mess, if it's not too expensive.

In general, an owner-occupant may be more sympathetic to your plight and thankful for your desire to help them out. (Of course others may not be so thrilled, so be prepared.) If you think the home might be a rental property, check with the county tax records to identify the owner. They may be unaware of the situation and welcome the notification to protect their investment.

Another alternative might be to notify the homeowner's association (HOA), if there is one. One of the benefits of a HOA is to enforce community appearance standards as set in the covenants or bylaws that specify how properties must be maintained. This could be a less personal method of reaching a beneficial outcome.

If the source of the problem is a code or housing violation, the city may be the ultimate authority. Most cities have a separate code and neighborhood services division and some cities have 311 for non-emergency assistance. But wherever you live, deal with the situation tactfully. This will ensure neighborly relations stay intact.

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