You have spent time and money preparing your Windsor house for sale. In the past month, your weekends have been devoted to decluttering, home repairs, painting, landscaping and organizing. It’s not easy, but it’s work that will pay off handsomely in the long run.
But the problem you can’t seem to control? The bad neighbours next door. This is not only annoying, but it can cost you money when you put your house on the market. A nearby home that has an overgrown yard and peeling paint, can take some of the value off your home. The worst kind of neighbour? One that has a junky home, in horrible condition, a yard packed with cars and debris, broken windows and other litter can cost a seller even more.
So what can you do?
I have heard of sellers going to the offending property and cleaning it up themselves. The problem? That’s trespassing and the owners can press charges. If the home is a rental, then you need to contact the owner of the property to see if they can handle the eyesore. If you are not sure who the owner is or where they are located, your real estate agent may be able to help you. Once that is determined, it’s time to send a letter to the owner, include pictures and request action. But if the bad neighbours do in fact own the property, then you have other options rather than risking arrest.
If your neighbour is elderly or disabled, you may be able to help them find a free or low cost service that can help. There are often organizations that offer programs and can assist with exterior painting, landscaping and minor repairs. Even gathering a group of others in the neighbourhood to spend a weekend making improvements is often an act of kindness that the homeowner may appreciate beyond words. It never hurts to go up and ask as long as it is done in a sensitive and kind manner.
But if your neighbours are in fact able to make improvements, but choose not to, it may be worth starting a discussion. Of course, we don’t recommend knocking on the door if the neighbour is not known to be a friendly as those conversations can often backfire, but if they are approachable, then you may offer your help and explain that your home will soon be on the market and you are trying to do everything to show that your home is located in a well-kept neighbourhood. Often times, people respond to kindness so approach your subject with positive words. Don’t say that their property is an eyesore (even if it is), but rather choose constructive words to make an uncomfortable discussion more bearable.
If the home is a foreclosure, use the same tactics as you would when confronting the owner of a rental property. Send a letter with pictures to the lender and request immediate attention. Don’t hesitate to go all the way to the top if you have not received a timely response. Be active and don’t let up as the squeaky wheel gets the oil. But never be threatening or rude.
Of course, if your home has a Homeowners Association, then you need to make a formal request that it take action. Usually, this does the trick. If not, find out how you can pursue this matter by asking your real estate agents what your resources are. There is a good chance they have been through something similar with other clients and can offer you good advice.
Every community has ordinances that regulate the appearance of properties. This is especially important if there is health or safety issues. In some areas, growing grass over 8 inches is a violation, so take every advantage of reporting the offending property to the proper authorities if you have been unsuccessful in solving this on your own.
Other neighbourhood issues that can cause problems are the loud and noisy neighbours next door. Often, many people just don’t have a clue that they are disturbing you. For example, one client had a neighbour that worked in his garage all day making wood furniture, which required banging on tools including electric saws. She simply let him know when she was having a showing and he stopped working during that time. Another neighbour left her dog out during the day and it often barked. She let them know and they were happy to resolve the problem by taking the animal to a dog day care.
Of course, often these problems aren’t handled this well. If, for example, dogs are a nuisance and you have done everything to work with the neighbours, then it may be time to call animal control. Dogs that are left to run around without a leash because they often escape or prove to be a menace to your neighbourhood, need to be controlled.
Unfortunately, dealing with difficult neighbours is never fun nor easy. The bottom line is you must handle yourself respectfully. Don’t make matters worst by getting in a name calling or going onto their property to clean it yourself. This can only cause more problems.