Hoarding Neighbors from H-E double-ell

sameboatApril 5, 2006

What can a neighborhood do when everyone keeps their premises clean and attractive but one? There's one home that has the appearance of a junkyard. The place is an eyesore and brings the property values down. This neighboring house which is not sided has tyvek paper flapping in the breeze (for years now with duct tape everywhere and all sorts of misc. patches), has holes with birds flying in and out all day, an unsightly barn filled to the brim and trash everywhere.

We've planted trees along the edge, but they just won't grow tall enough (or thick enough). Rotting twisted pieces of metal in the yard, mice, skunks during the day, an absolutely huge pile of compost, boats down the back of the driveway, a storage container (yes, they actually brought more junk in to store in the container!), a delapitated barn that is full of junk, old cars, piles of wood, and the list goes on.

There is no zoning code under which the city can do something. We've already tried the "neighborly" route. Offered to help side the house, offered to pay to have it sided, then offered a free week-long vacation at our Cape Cod cottage if they'd side it (they go away very frequently on vacations - to run from their problems I suppose). No go. His wife told me that once someone says he has to do something then he really won't. Catch him if you can (these are 40-something people with two young children).

I've been to see the building inspector, I've talked to the health agent. I've even called their mortgage company to see if they could do something. No go. It's their constitutional right to live in those conditions says the town.

Now here's the kicker -- their home insurance agent called them about two years ago and said they had to finish up the siding (which is about 10 years old, unfinished addition) by the end of the summer. And then the agent disappeared (she told me she thinks he moved to FL). Never heard from the insurance company again.

We've been on friendly terms with these neighbors for 6 years but I've had it and let them know. I won't even let their kids play here anymore because she just naps while I watch them.

Now I'm afraid of the husband. He's added to the mess, bringing an old tub into my view and plopping it down. Health agent told me he'll "talk to the guy and make sure the plug is out of the tub so there's no mosquitos" He's added all kinds of stuff - ladders, upside down chairs, buckets, etc. He told my husband he was thinking of parking his flatbed truck and Caterpilar so I could see them out my kitchen window (which is my side yard, right where we were hoping to create a patio). He has a landscaping/plowing business that I can't find a listing for anywhere, so I'm sure it's fly-by-night.

He also said he thought about adding grafitti to the side of the house I complained about. Afraid? Yes. I think he's psychotic.

Their house is a monstrosity that towers over mine. I'd need a 30' tall fence to completely block it out. I'm not sure if trees will grow tall enough but we are going to see to it. I'd like to sell but for two problems: I love my house and we'd never get what it should be worth due to our neighbor's property. I feel trapped. We'd like to add on, but can't because we'd never recoup the money.

The neighbors all agree with me, but they don't have the view I have, and though they all say yes, yes YOU go to the town hall and complain, I don't believe they are courageous enough to sign anything. I've done all but put something in writing and sign it. I'm afraid to.

It must sound like I'm in a slum in the city but I'm not. I live in a beautiful little town on the North Shore of MA.

Whew! Any suggestions?

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that may sound harsh, but if all other options are exhausted then that is all you can do.

otherwise, either make a nuisance of yourself at town hall until they do something or live with it.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 9:58AM
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It would seem you have done all that you can - and while moving isn't what you want to do, consider the emotional price you are paying to live where you live. We can't control what other folks do - we can only control our reaction to them. If you cannot accept the situation as is (and who among us could?) then you are left w/ the moving option.

Obviously the man next door isn't just a slob, he is taking extreme pleasure in annoying you. He probably lies awake at night dreaming up ways to irritate you, and he IS succeeding.

What is the price of your serenity???

I understand loving where you live, I understand concerns over diminished property value, BUT - again - how much are you willing to pay to continue to live under these circumstances?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 1:17PM
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I think moving is the solution. It sounds so rational coming from strangers, and yet when I discuss it with my husband I get upset about the wonderful stone wall he built (including a beautiful built-in bench), my spa/bathroom he designed and created with his own hands, the way cool terraced yard for the kids, our new roof with copper, etc. All these things we've done top notch and for what. We're too tired to do it again. But you've given me the answers I was looking for. Thank you. I would also like to know if anybody has any idea of how I could find out who their homeowners' insurance company is. I'd like to exhaust all possibilities. I'd love for the mailman to give us their mail one day lol.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 4:39PM
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How about the fire department? Isn't the mess a fire hazard?

But really, I don't think anything is going to make them change at all. You could look around at some other homes just to see what is out there. You are so upset, it is not emotionally healthy to live with the stress. Now that the neighbor knows how much his mess disturbs you, he won't let up.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 1:08AM
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The fire dept. was out there two weeks ago, as his mother lives downstairs and is elderly. They had to go in and I can't imagine what they had to push aside just to get through. So the fire dept. knows. The mother moved in two years ago and still was not situated or unpacked last time I saw her (which was last year some time) - boxes and stacks everywhere, furniture propped on the boxes. It's nuts. Even Elder Affairs said they couldn't help because she refused, but that they'd call now and then to check on her. And they tried to get her to move out but she wont. Big help to me they were. I do think this guy might buy more property somewhere and just move and leave it all here for storage. They are all hoarders and I don't think he'd ever part with the property or deal with emptying it. I think they fill it up and just move on.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 7:28AM
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I don't want to offend you, but it is clear that by pushing on these folks, you have angered them and now they are trying to make their property and your view even uglier.
Leave it alone. You really HAVE done all you can do. If they are no tinterested, even with your offer to pay, it just is not gonnna happen.
You have some choices. The two that come to mind are: 1) Build a fence, or a tall trellis
2) move

    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 9:43AM
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I took Davidandkasie's advice. I went to the town hall and this time went directly to the selectmen. She wanted something in writing, and when I explained that all of us neighbors didn't feel safe, she accepted an e-mail to bring to them. She "gets" it. I have a glimmer of hope. They weren't impressed with the board of health or the building inspector's non-solution.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 5:03PM
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In Portland, Oregon they have mediation services where both parties come in and a compromise is met. I see houses like this all the time and boy it is frusterating. We recently moved into our home because people were not taking care of their yards, etc. We decided this was a sure sign of neighborhood decline. Now, even six months later when I drive through the old neighborhood I see it is even worse.
Our new neighborhood has historically been well kept. We moved their because we wanted to have a neighborhood where people took pride in their homes. THere was one home that was an eyesore and now people are rehabbing it so we are lucky. I recently posted a rant about another neighbors choice of doors and this really puts that in perspective for me.
I guess my belief is "When in Rome do as the Romans do".

    Bookmark   April 12, 2006 at 5:26PM
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I have nightmares about selling my house at a loss, then driving by a year later to see that they did indeed fix it up after all. But, as you've pointed out, these situations can get worse. We have quite the chioce to make here. It will probably take a year to make a decision. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2006 at 8:49PM
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Since there are children involved, I would call the social services department. A napping mom, a semi-psychotic dad, and a filthy, unkempt house are a recipe for real tragedy.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 9:05AM
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I'm not kidding when I say this, but why not get all the good neighbors together to form an association, chip in and buy the bad neighbors out of town? Then you can sell the dump and split the money amongst the association. I know it might cost more to buy off the crazy people than you could sell their dump, but you'd just have to wait and see what offer they'd accept.

Everyone has their price.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 9:55PM
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Stevieboy, that is a great thought! I did suggest it to my husband back in Oct. to buy them out. We couldn't afford it ourselves because it's a huge 2-family and it has lots of land. But remember - these people are hoarders. They don't get rid of a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g and that includes property. They will fill it up and move on. This guy has property all over the place. If he sold this property, why, where would he put all his "stuff?" The selectmen's office is sending the building inspector out again to see if he can get him to finish up the siding work. I'll keep you posted. It's such a weird situation but the more I read the more I realize it's common. The funniest thing is - in the midst of all the chaos in his yard - broken swingsets (note the plural), piles of stuff, etc. - there's a big tree with a perfect ring of flower bulbs he's planted. If they put siding up, then I can just do my fence thing and not look or be aware of whatever is going on there.

Infodiva, I thought of that too. I do think there's "something" going on there, but their son's teacher is also a "nanny" of sorts for them - goes away with them, helps them with the kid's parties (never at the house, mind you - always a rented hall, again ridiculously covering up for something). They go to a private school, but the neighbor says they just can't afford to have it sided. Also, I do think something has to be witnessed - the kids look okay. They are good and I know they eat well and bathe. I wouldn't want to split a family apart just because they aren't tidy. I think he'd take a nutty. And I think he'd suspect who made the call.

The mailman delivered something for them to my address by mistake - it wasn't from their insurance agent. Shucks!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 11:31PM
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Rusty, I get the idea that your yard isn't exactly trashed like sameboat's neighbor. I agree with you also that you should be able to live on your property and people shouldn't be able to tell you what you can have and not have in your yard. This is why I will never, ever live in a neighborhood with a HOA. I think if people don't want to look at the neighbor's belongings, then they should buy a big peice of property and build their house smack dab in the middle.

However, it sounds to me like sameboat's neighbors have gone overboard and I think it comes down to having consideration and respect for your neighbors and yourself. It is also a health hazard to have piles of "stuff" in your yard as it attracts rats and other pests that will eventually make their way to sameboat's house.

Moving is expensive and sameboat, you shouldn't have to go to that extreme. I wish you luck in solving your problem. Hopefully you'll get some results.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2006 at 9:08AM
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Post a photo. i'd like to see the extent of the mess.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 3:14PM
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I will post once I figure out how to send a pic to my e-mail from my phone. Or I should just get a disposable camera and have them made on a disk. I will. I will!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2006 at 11:25PM
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In my town, they only just passed a law to deal with this kind of thing. So although there might not be anything on the books in your town yet, if you're really determined you could see about getting legislation introduced. They nicknamed it the 'eyesore' rule, I don't know what it's really called. Now if a complaint is made, the city drives by and if they see there's a problem, a letter is issued to the homeowner giving them a certain amount of time to clean up. Our newspaper covered the first case - a home that had grass in the front yard more than a foot high, and several broken down rusty car frames. The homeowner didn't clean it up, so the city did it for him, and put a lien on his house for the cost of the clean up.

It's a lot of work, but some people here felt strongly enough to get the measure passed. It's worded pretty specifically, so the city only acts on really bad cases.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 1:17PM
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I'd love to have the wording of the ordinance. I just can't belivee nothing's been done yet. We had a tree guy out here from town yesterday afternoon to give us a price on moving mature aborvites (sp?) 12' - 14' high and he said I'd love to do it but I have to be honest those huge trees on his property will choke them out and they'll look lousy - too much shade. they won't survive - PLUS he suggested if we go ahead and plant them anayway that we really should think about an underground watering system for them, as they need a lot of water. So even a tree border is out! I am spitting mad.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2006 at 10:03AM
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sameboat, I can relate. We have similar neighbors. Ours collect trailers, all kinds, and they are covering their large yard. It is soooo frustrating to look at day after day, but we haven't done anything about it. I want to, but my husband doesn't want to make anyone mad. As he says, "we have to live next door to these people, let's just stay civil". Luckily our view is partially obstructed by their fence, and we have trees and a fence. These people have a whole gaggle of kids, not sure how many, but I believe about 8.... of course they are NEVER supervised, and one neighbor did end up calling the police on them a few times. Once for loud profane music blarring, and another time because the ten year old (10!) was repeatedly burning plastic in an outdoor fireplace and the fumes we disgusting. The rest of our neighborhood is very well kept. Some are even extreme, like the neighbors across from us have a severe green lawn obsession. It's a shame when one house brings the whole neighborhood down. Good luck with your town hall, sounds like there might be hope!!!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2006 at 11:56AM
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My husband came up with a great plan. Instead of placing arborvitae right near the property line (where they'd be in the shade of the neighbors huge "bare in Winter" trees), we are going to place seven of them closer to our house on the far side of the driveway. They'll get more sun, block our view even from inside of our house some, and be closer to a hose for watering! We are going to place them in a semicirle so I can put a little bench in there or maybe even a water feature. I think it's a good idea, and though it won't totally block out everything, at least my eye will go to something pretty and maybe guests won't be bothered by it either. When I'm on my patio, they won't be able to peer out at us either because the trees we picked out are 10 - 12' tall. I really think this is going to work. The tree mover said he'd call us by the end of the week to do it! Now I REALLY will get some pics to post so you can see what I'm hiding and what we've done when it's finished. Instant gratification. I live for it.

Emmhip, I am so sorry to hear you are in the "sameboat!" My husband is the same way - "don't mess around with people who are obviously not all there." He didn't know I contacted their mortgage co. or tried to identify who their insurance co. is or that I called the town hall one more time because I was so desperate. And I do think the town called them because the neighbors weren't home for two whole weeks - that's his "thing", he disappears for a week or two when there's a complaint or an unpleasant conversation. His mother once told me when their insurance co. said he had to side the house he said "they'll have to catch me." Wouldn't the insurance co. just drop them? And then if it was uninsurable, wouldn't the mortgage co. take the house back? I don't know how they keep slipping through the cracks. Anyways, at least you have other neighbors who aren't afraid to complain.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2006 at 7:38AM
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If you want an evergreen that grows fast and makes a good fence, you might consider hemlock.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 1:31AM
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Plus, can't you poison your neighbors with the leaves if the whole "blocking the ugly view" thing doesn't work out? LOL. What a situation -- hope you figure something out!

Podocarpus grows fast and gets bushy and wide - don't know about MA but here in CA, at least.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 6:45PM
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Were do people like this get the money to do these things? Even Hoarders need to buy stuff, How does he have property everywere?

Nosey Nieghbors are a pain in the neck, my father got all kinds of hell when he didn't build his house out of brick or cover it in drivet(sp?) Hes not a brick person, and drivet is horrible stuff, rots to bits in 10 years in the south with the termites. but he is a bit of a hoarder, hes got his workshop out in his carport and he does make things, like a portable dimension saw and a weedwhacker, but hes planted pine forest all around him and theres only one Lot that could possibly see any of his assembled scrappiles and junk without driving atleast half a city block up his driveway and it still belongs to the developer and no one even walks on it, but still he gets endless complaints about it, He owns some swamp and he allowed someone moving in to dump fill on his property and he got complaints about that too! He can buy fill, and someone else can pay to have land carted off, but he can't get it just dumped on his land.

So I understand Rusty and his point of view, I think the two key issues here are that they are not attempting to keep the view from next door or from the streat clean and that they are infact making things worse just to disrespect you. The anarchist in me can think of lots of ways to make him leave/mend his ways, The least offensive being to give all his junk to charity/scrapyards this is especially viable if he moves to a new area, or regarding his property in other areas, Just call every second hand store you can find and hire a moving crew to cart everything out of the house/ houses. Of copurse then you run the risk of him threatening or even shooting one of the workers.

You may want to check out the garden part of gardenweb to find jus tthe right tree to block out your eyesore, we have a 4 plew right nextto us and they think its kosher to store there junk in there side yard right next to our backyard.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2006 at 4:10PM
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A friend of mine once said: "This is the reason for architectural review boards and molotov cocktails."

    Bookmark   May 17, 2006 at 7:59PM
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Funny, where I grew up we called these sorts of activities "theft" and "arson", and people went to jail for doing them. Maybe it's different in your area.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2006 at 10:49AM
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This is getting out of hand guys. I think the only solution for Sameboat is curtains and trees. You can't make other people have the same values as us and there's nothing we can do about it. All I can hope for in my neighbourhood is a good nights sleep, if I could just get that I'd be happy.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2006 at 4:27AM
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Somehow, if i did post a message in this forum, i can't find it now! I got a message to tone down my language, but i have never sent anything any worse than other folks who write to the different forums!
If you folks have received any message from me with unfavorable "talk" in it, i apologize! but, since i can't seem to find the message you folks (The management) say i sent, or cannot read the offending words, i don't know what to think!
Has somebody forgotten that to cast suspicion on somebody, without written proof, isn't fair play, at least in my book!
Any way, i'll certainly be more circumspect in my answers to letters as posted in the forums!
And, i haul a load of scrap to the yard twice a week, weather permitting.
I'm a disabled veteran of WW II, and get a small disability pension, but no retirement from any of my former jobs, so fixing lawn mowers and hauling scrap gives me enough to maintain my home, pay the taxes, and buy food and gasoline! the neighbors, if they don't like my yard, probably have less than 10 years to live with it, because, given my age(82 in September,) I'm going against the law of averages, although both of my grand-fathers lived into their 90's!
So, live long, prosper, enjoy yer neighbors, keep yer nose out of others business, and be happy! There's too many people trying to run other's lives!
BYE: Rustyj

    Bookmark   May 21, 2006 at 12:01PM
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If I had a neighbor as aggravating as this, I'd be inclined to hall in a mound of dirt and then put up a 6 foot stockade fence on IT. I wouldn't care what the fence looked like as long as I didn't have to see his junk. Paint a mural on your side of the fence of what kind of house you actually like to see!!

I'd also be wary of planting any expensive trees or arborvitae next to the slob. Since he seems to be doing stuff to intentionally annoy you, what makes you think he won't pour something toxic on them to kill them?

I can't blame the neighbors for not wanting to get involved. Especially since the guy seems to have plenty of money and manages to avoid being brought to terms about everything else he is skirting the law with. They have probably seen how little good it does to complain and don't want to become his next target.

As for the comment about hoping the mailman delivers their mail to your house, "I'd love for the mailman to give us their mail one day lol."
Please be aware that it is a felony offense to tamper with the U.S. mail.

lorrainebecker gave me an idea. She said the newspaper covered the first case of slobbery complaints. Perhaps you could ask the newspaper to come out and do a an unrelated human interest story on one of your kids, etc and then pose right NEXT to the slobs house when they take a picture! Get the "best" angle! You might also take pics of the mess and bring them with you to city hall, etc the next time you are there. A picture tells a thousand words!

Rusty- "NOTE: Somehow, if i did post a message in this forum, i can't find it now! I got a message to tone down my language, but i have never sent anything any worse than other folks who write to the different forums"

Is this the post you were looking for?! Your fortunate that your neighbor doesn't know why his hedges died. I have to wonder how well you would get along if he knew....
RE: fences and neighbors...sheesh.
Posted by: rustyj14 (My Page) on Sat, Apr 8, 06 at 18:16

After the home next door was sold, and the new owners had been in for 3-4 weeks, the man came out one day with a measuring tape and some stakes. (We had already met, and he and his wife were very nice people!) I asked him what he had in mind. he said he was going to put up either some hedges, or a nice picket fence! Now, his yard abuts mine--no dividing line, or fence, nor bushes, been that way since we moved there 50 some years before!
I asked him why he would need a fence--he said to know where to stop mowing his lawn! I thought that to be sort of dumb, since i'd just mow to wherever he stopped, and he could do vice-versa, so i told him that!
so, the fence went bye-bye! Then one day he planted some hedges, which gave up the ghost inside of one summer--they didn't like laquer thinner, i suppose! The reason i didn't want anything put in the area was, when the oak leaves fell down in the fall, they would blow on down our road, but would be caught in a fence, or hedges, and i'd have to gather them up! So, with no fence or hedges, they now blow way down the road, to the main hiway and beyond, we're the best of neighbors and friends, and hopefully, we'll all live happily ever after (Or until we croak!)


    Bookmark   June 3, 2006 at 11:54AM
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Rusty posted in this thread as I recall, it has been removed, I don't recall it being offensive though.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2006 at 5:40PM
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It won't be easy but every time you see him smile & say hello
He will start to think you are nuts
Put up a fence! Forget tress etc.
Drop one of those mosquito dunks in that tub when they aren't around.
No way would I offer them a vaction at my Cape Cod cottage!
Can you move to your cottage? Sounds great there!
Pray to St. Jude (patron of hopeless cases)
Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2006 at 6:42PM
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Woah, Rusy poisoned someone's hedge with paint thinner so that he doesn't have to rake up leaves? And admits to it?? Unbelievable!

Rusty, your neighbor wanting to put up a fence or hedge has nothing to do with mowing the lawn - he was being polite.
If you are 'hauling scrap' to the yard twice a week he probably doesn't want to look at it the other five days of the week.
What will you do when he does put up a fence?

I find the 'hoarder' mentality interesting.
At some time I read an article which suggested that people who feel the need to hoard things, no matter how useless or decrepit, are or have been at some point, deprived of things.
Either they are or were poor, or weren't allowed to own things when they were little. So now they make up for it by accumulating things without giving any thought to whether they actually need those things or not. Simply, the idea of OWNING stuff, LOTS of stuff, is what gives them peace of mind.
Although I sometimes think lazyness has something to do with it, too. Far easier to pile stuff up in the yard than figuring out a way to get it to the dump.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2006 at 10:26AM
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Hoarders are mentally ill. It is a form of obsessive compulsive disorder. They suffer extreme anxiety at the thought of getting rid of anything they have. My mother is a hoarder. Thankfully for her neighbors, she confines her piles of crap to the inside of the house and her car. No one is allowed to touch a thing. She lives alone. My sis and I shudder at what we will have to deal with when she needs to leave the house since neither of us have been inside the house in many years.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2006 at 11:09AM
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"Rusty- "NOTE: Somehow, if i did post a message in this forum, i can't find it now! I got a message to tone down my language, but i have never sent anything any worse than other folks who write to the different forums"

The post of Rusty's that was pulled referred to a group of other people as "rag-heads".

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 1:35PM
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You know I've been thinking about this...

Sameboat, I am sympathetic. I do, however, think you ought to let this go, or move, and have a happy life. Be glad you are healthy and happy and your kids are safe.

Have you looked at the neighbour's side of this? Clearly you ticked him off and he's doing stuff to annoy you. Yes, it's yukky and an eyesore, but people have far worse neighbours...he's not playing loud music all hours, he's not shooting out your windows, driving over your mailbox etc - you hear all sorts of horrible stories...

My point about his side is - well, I'm a procrastinator myself....and for various reasons, not necessarily (but usually) financial, I do stuff myself. I wouldn't want my own place unfinished like that (but the junk is just as much of a problem, right?) - but here comes a neighbour who, for one, out and out ASKS you to fix up your place. That's pretty embarrassing...then they offer to pay for it to be done, then offer you a 'free vacation' - how humiliating is that? As for your speculation that they have enough money to do this and that, that's making some pretty big assumptions - but of course, you've already been looking at their mail, so you already know their business anyway. I'd say you've crossed a pretty big line...as somebody said, a Federal offense no less. Maybe he doesn't like living next door to that?

Maybe he's got huge debts....paying for surgery, alimony, who knows what? Maybe he does indeed have a mental illness...is it your business? And so what if he does?

I am just aghast at some of the suggestions and comments here....call Social services???? The mom's neglectful cause she naps when the kids are at your place? Presumably they are neat and well-behaved, you didn't mention otherwise. Maybe the mom is just tired and when her neighbour kindly takes the kids for a bit, she just has a little rest. I hardly call that neglectful...and the very thought that you'd consider doing that out of SPITE?? What else do you call it, contacting all those agencies etc? I think this goes way beyond a messy yard....and who's got the obsessive tendencies?

Now I'd never do anything like he's done for spite - but I can perhaps understand why he now feels the way he does....just think for a minute from their point of view. You said yourself you had a good relationship with them prior to this, who's the one who destroyed it? It's not going to help things, is it?

To be honest, I think I'd rather live next door to a messy place, than a place that's neat as a pin straight out of Wisteria Lane, with someone who was passing judgement, and scheming and plotting against me.

A sense of proportion, people - and remember "make sure your slate is clean before you throw stones"


    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 11:46AM
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I would never, ever open someone else's mail. But perhaps I could see from the return address who the insurance carrier was. I was just being facetious anyway. I don't think even the insurance company would bother. It's a nuisance call according to the board of health. He said they aren't breaking any rules and doesn't consider it a public health problem but to call if I see a rat. How do you like that? We decided to just plant the trees (which the tree guy hasn't been able to plant for two month now because of record rainfall - the trees are soaking in puddles). I did snap photos to post but believe it or not CVS called to say the film jammed in the machine and provided me with another disposable camera. I was just too nervous to go sneaking around again snapping strategic photos from my yard. I'm just exhausted. The board of health (who by the way looked like he himself could possibly be living in these same condition as my neighbors - I almost died when he stepped out of the truck, long gray hair, scary looking God help me)said hoarding is a sickness, it's unfortunate, they can't make him clean up, that it's not considered a junkyard unless he starts selling from his yard, and finally....It existed when I bought my house. The end.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2006 at 12:51PM
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Siberian Elms. Planted 2 - 3 feet apart, grow about 6 feet each year, creates a living fence and grow up to about 45 feet tall at maturity. Not as interesting as some of the other suggestions, but what we did for privacy fencing from devilish atv riders and pool peeping perverts.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2006 at 1:15AM
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Having read the entire thread, I am totally sympathetic. I understand loving a house and wanting to stay in it forever, doing the rehab the right way, etc. Here's one thing to consider...Senor Slobbo is living the way he wants on his own property because he has 'the law' behind him, which, in the US, strenuously protects the rights of individual property owners. In case you one day decide to stripe your house like a zebra, you will benefit from those laws as well. But you mentioned one thing that is possibly against policy...the fact that a school teacher acts as pseudo-nanny. Smart private schools are very lawsuit conscious and do not generally 'go along with' this sort of "free vacation child minding" type of behavior on the part of their teaching staff. If you want to go the "rules are rules" route you could find some way to casually tattle on the family to the school administration, "just shocked, is this standard, is it in the teachers' contracts, what are the liability issues, my o my". Given that your community sounds fairly small I would bet you know someone who knows someone who has the right set of ears.

OK to all thread readers I admit this is on the petty-revenge line of thinking BUT consider that you have not actually hit this guy anywhere that hurt which is why he keeps smiling and enjoying your discomfiture. Maybe this will hurt. And remember that should he make the slightest retaliatory move against your personal property you are suddenly dealing with a whole different set of laws. If he piles up more junk what do you care, you've got those trees on their way.

Oh yes and I would DEFINITELY have that property line formally surveyed, with lots of stake lines, take many photos, and then run a small (like picket fence small) fence about 6 inches inside the line. If possible have the fence re-surveyed and get something in writing that it is 100% on your side of the property line. If some mysterious laquer-thinner related illness strikes your trees or they are just bashed over or a wisp of his crap ends up on your side or, best yet, you see a rat on YOUR side (pet store?), you convert the situation from 'nuisance' to 'trespassing' and wanton destruction etc. GOOD LUCK

    Bookmark   June 23, 2006 at 8:19AM
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You know what? As Sameboat said, she's a nervous wreck. This whole thing is purely psychological and aesthetic - no noise, no smells/smoke/fumes/bullets...

DON'T escalate it - DON'T resort to illegal or immoral means - and 'tattling' is completely reprehensible - good fences do make good neighbours - tattling/meddling/scheming/plotting/obsessing DO NOT make good neighbours - live and let live, and, as said, remember the same laws protect you too.

DO what you want to your own place, love and cherish your kids, enjoy your health and home, and HAVE A HAPPY LIFE...THINGS COULD BE WORSE, MUCH WORSE, AND IF YOU'RE NOT CAREFUL, YOU COULD IN FACT MAKE THINGS WORSE....

As Desiderata says, "strive to be happy"

Let it be.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2006 at 12:21PM
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Survey your property lines. Determine local ordinances regarding health/noise safety levels. Determine any other ordinanances above and beyond those. These are your parameters...either deal within them or move.

BTW: Issues beyond those above are most likely not subject to disclosure when selling the property. Just think...were you given disclosure about these neighbors when you moved in? Probably not. In most cases, disclosure applies to the property in question, not about neighboring properties. If you do decide to move, why should you take it "on the chin" to disclose this situation?

Just a few thoughts....

    Bookmark   July 5, 2006 at 4:08AM
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Another planting suggestion, depending on where you live. Plant a nice, dense, fast-growing bamboo screen.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2006 at 4:02PM
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This neighbor of yours is enjoying this waaaaaaaaaaaaay too much! If there truly are no city or state zoning laws (and I can't believe the state of MA is that lax) that govern the way he keeps his place, you've got two options:
1)Move out of that neighborhood but make sure you do your 'homework' about the next neighborhood you move into.
2)Fertilize your line of trees and ignore (completely ignore) your neighbors and encourage the rest of the street to do the same. If he thinks he's not getting the attention he's seeking, he might just decide to move and bug someone else.

Good luck and I'm sorry for all your troubles.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2006 at 12:28PM
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Have you considered calling the E.P.A. I know from experience that they get on these things pretty fast. It seems pretty easy for others to tell you to just move, however your property value has to be zilch, and why should some slob force you out of your home. Sad that a nice little town has no zoning. I live in a town of four thousand and we have zoning. If you live in a run down dump you are given three warnings to clean it up or it will be demolished, if your yard grows up in weeds, again you are given written warnings, and then the city comes out and cuts it, and you get the bill.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 7:05PM
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Since the people obviously don't care how they live,and it sounds like they are converting their property into a dump,I think I would add some of my own trash to theirs. I would tell any one I knew,"if you have trash to get rid of,old furniture,whatever ,just bring it here and throw it off the truck,whatever". Of course don't get caught. Maybe eventually the zoning will do something to them for running an ilegal dump yard. I doubt he would want a bunch of old couches and trashey furniture thrown in his yard that wasn't his,it might get him into gear to clean up. Drastic situations call for drastic measures. Perhaps you should take it to the local TV news chanel. You know the saying "the wheel that squeaks the loudest get the grease." I wish you good luck.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2006 at 7:28AM
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I really sympathize with you. I just wonder how much negetivity you and your kids are picking up from engaging with this "neighbor." I can bet these eight neighboring children are picking up their parents attitude toward you and your kids as well. God help you if you have a family pet and the fire starter escalates his behavior. Seriously, it may escalate and if you are scared as an adult (which you should be) imagine the effect on your children.

I wouldn't want to put me or my kids in constant contact with this family for a thousand reasons that you have already stated. Think of the "best friends" they aren't meeting and the negative image of yourself that you are presenting by continually engaging with this neighbor. Just seeing their house probably triggers stress, doesn't it?

You have done a really thourough job researching your options. Give yourself an A+ for effort. Don't let this bully steal your joy. Be thankful the neighbor kids don't attend your children's school, and let it go.

My advise: Know when to walk away. Talk to a realtor about the real market value and reinvest this emotional energy into a new positive venture. You don't need to move today so be picky and jump when the opportunity arises! This is a short time when you have your kids at home with you. Cherish it.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2006 at 3:21PM
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This thread is a month old, but hits home. I moved after a 1 1/2 years in a brand new home, surrounded by beautiful mountins and trees, due to the same situation. Did not lose any money on the house but it took me 3 mos to sell, longer than the norm for the area and due to the neighbor....from buyer responses.

During the time I lived there I called the city, wrote letters and had the fire department out 3 times. Guy was burning everything imaginable in his garage and smoke would fill my house. Old car parts and junk he would haul home to "fix" were piling up. No one would do anything and told me they couldn't go into the garage unless they had a warrant. He also had a scanner and would shut down burning before they got there. Family was rude and would never leave me alone if I went outside to garden or enjoy the place. There is more I could write about this situation, but would end up being a book. And...these people were renters. The landlord told me to be nice and try to make friends with them, that at least they paid their rent.

I became ill while living there and was placed on oxygen at night, completly healthy before, first time in years to even see a doctor. After 3 mos. in my new home, tests now show no problem and am off of oxygen.

The problem with going too far (EPA, etc.) is when you do sell and if anything is found (still think he had a meth lab), it would have to be disclosed. It boggles my mind what we have gov. agencies for.

I finally became weary of the situation and hated the thought of moving. As much as I didn't want to, moving has turned out to be a wonderful decision with wonderful neighbors.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 6:48AM
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i have to add my 2 cents. i really think sameboat needs to relax a bit. i agree that it sounds like a very unpleasant view and awfully unfriendly neighbors but you did see it when you bought the place and it is their life. i think you have gone overboard (excuse the pun) in your attempts to deal with it and i agree with pjb999 that you are most likely as irratating a neigbor to him. really, calling his mortgage company!?! that crosses a line, imo. remember...it IS a free country! and btw, how can this *depress* your property value when clearly you bought it w/ the nuisance so you benefitted by the depression. zero sum game. accept or move.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2006 at 4:49PM
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Was you neighbors house like this when you moved in? If so, I do not understand why you would buy a place next to a hideous and dangerous eyesore.

It sounds like there is no way this guy is going to clean up his act. You are either going to have to let it go or go yourself. It sounds like living next to this place is taking years off your life. Life is too short.

If you do decide to move I would suggest you find a gated type community that really spells out and enforces what you can do with your home. Or do like one of the other posters suggested and buy lots of land with no neighbors.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 2:39PM
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A couple of thoughts about landscaping (it is what I do): There are landscapers that specialize in screening, but this is something you can do some of yourself. I don't know what town you are in but there are several nurseries that sell very mature trees in New England. I don't know about the Northshore in MA but Cavicchios west of Boston is good -they sell wholesale, but you can look around their lot and get a landscape installer to make your purchase. Even better for you, if you don't know much about trees, is Sylvan nursery in Westport; the property is small enough that you can explore it without a vehicle, but do set aside a big chunk of time if you go. You could detour there the next time you go to the Cape. They are a little pricey but have an excellent selection of mature trees and shrubs. They focus on wholesale but will sell retail. You can tell them exactly what you want: fairly inexpensive mature fast growing trees and shrubs for complete visual screening. Birches are pretty good as they grow fast, can be multi-trunk and are inexpensive (Betula Nigra, Heritage is least suceptible to borer beetle). Young white pines are cheap and provide a lot of coverage for several years until they are mature.

A lot of those Mcmansions built on the Cape have serious screening with mature plantings on their property. The owners move in and realize don't want to see their neighbor's or for their neighbors to see them (so they lose the ocean view, but I digress...). Two weeks later, full blockage. Drive around and borrow a few ideas. If you turn this into a creative process, maybe it will help dissipate the intense bitterness that is ruining your home experience. I advise you to avoid bamboo as is it is mostly invasive and very very difficult to remove once established.

Anyway there are a lot of options and whatever the cost, it would certainly be a lot less expensive than the financial hit you would probably take trying to sell your house in this market. You can create a total visual screen, a substantial sound screen and get back all of the cost in added property value if done well.

Good luck moving on with your life and ignoring the chaos next door. If you don't really believe he is crazy and is open to compromise, there is a nonprofit that provides low cost mediation services in Cambridge. I used them once for a professional conflict and was so relieved to finally feel like I could move on from the conflict and know that the opposing party would also move on. I didn't get my way during the mediation, but it got rid of 2 years worth of stress. A bargain for $400. Both parties split the subsidized cost of the mediation.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 2:45PM
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re landscaping: Make sure you have your property surveyed and you know the property boudaries with absolute certainty - otherwise you could enter a whole new level of hell in the landscape inferno!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 3:05PM
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Thank you Renograce. We called a few tree nurseries throughout MA and for thousands of dollars they will move mature trees. We happen to have a tree farm a few doors down. They offered to sell us 7 trees for less than $1,000 and hooked us up with a guy whose business card says "I dig trees" (do you love it?). So for just a little over $1,000 we are getting 7 (SEVEN!) 11 - 12' tall arborvitae transplanted next week!!! The spring was way too wet and the trees were under water for a lot of the time so he couldn't dig them out. Then the summer was too hot and we didn't want to stress the trees out. But next week he's coming. I'm so excited. We've been visiting our trees once a week all summer long. lol Happy Birthday to me. And if hubby gets me digital camera I will take before and afters to show you all! I am planning a little water feature in front of the trees (water fountain or something) and it will give us privacy so we can sit outside and not see their mess.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 7:13PM
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OK the trees are in. They are just a little scruffy but will fill in in about a year or two. I am so excited. And today was my birthday and I DID get a digital camera! I'll take photos tomorrow. We still need to trim back the neighbor's tree branches that are preventing sunlight from hitting the trees. My husband is digging in a water filtration system for each tree so instead of standing there with a hose we just turn the water on and it goes right to each tree. I think it is going to look fantastic.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 10:16PM
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(drum roll, please) Tadaaa! We were bummed out about the gaps in the middle trees but they assured us it will fill in. (If my husband was home when they were putting them in he would have asked that the fuller trees be placed in the middle, oh well.) It is drizzly and dark this morning and when the sun comes out I'll snap more angles so you can see what I'm hiding.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2006 at 9:12AM
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Well here is just the tip of the iceberg that we are hiding. The leaves cover a lot but they'll be falling soon:


And here's my view now when I drive up:


It's a good thing.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2006 at 3:02PM
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Your arborvitae look terrific. I admire your solution.
I wasn't able to link from your posting but I found the pictures by typing your name into photobucket's search.

We had problems when we moved into our house with an elderly neighbor who was physically very well but mentally was descending into paranoid dementia. We had a scary couple of years, before her son went though the legal process of having her declared incompetent. She told everyone that my husband was the head of a cult of Indian rat worshipers. I was painting the window frame in an upstairs bedroom when I saw her stop her car in front of our house, sneak into our yard and put a dead rat on my son's tricycle seat. Bad memories.... The thing was, she was very intelligent and charming, when we first moved in I couldn't understand why she had no other friends.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 9:45AM
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Looks like you've done all you can short of moving. We have had a bit of a similar delimma but not NEARLY as bad as yours and we did have protective covenants that helped (after several registered letters). I did not read all of the posts but as to parking heavy equipment out front... check your local ordinances. Many counties and/or cities prohibit this.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 2:08PM
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Nice trees. Good solution. Be thankful your neighbour's yard is not filled with barking chained dogs or he's running is running an illegal body shop. My friends and I have suffered with both.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2006 at 5:40PM
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Is it possible that you and several neighbors can approach your town government about an eyesore law. If enough people can encourage this type of regulation, they may be moved to enact appropriate zoning laws.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 10:46AM
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I really hate HOA's and neighborhood covenet's but these are the reasons they exist. I like the idea of basic, bottom line really bad city/town legislation so people don't feel they have to resort to having a HOA or live in a state of total stress.
The only alternative is to sue. Pain and suffering, stress, fear, loss of property value.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2006 at 2:03PM
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Any success yet?

We have county codes which are enforced in areas where the city's hands are tied. I am in an unincorporated area that was zoned farm back in the 30s and it needs to be changed because the density of the housing is so high and the houses are old and in disrepair.

We have a neighbor whose home is in terrible repair, no junk in the yard though. Here are list of county codes and ordinances that may help you out:

The following are declared to be public nuisances prejudicial to public health, but are not inclusive of all conditions or acts that may give rise to the creation or continued existence of a nuisance:

(1) Collection Of Carcasses : To allow the carcass of any animal or any offal, filth or noisome substance to be collected, deposited or to remain in any place, to the prejudice of others. Carcasses of dead animals or any part of decaying animal matter, not buried or destroyed or collected within twenty four (24) hours after death.

(2) Throwing Or Depositing Offal : To throw or deposit any offal or other offensive matter, or the carcass of any dead animal, in any watercourse, lake, pond, spring, well or common sewer, street or public highway.

(3) Corruption Of Water : To corrupt or render unwholesome or impure the water of any spring, river, stream, pond or lake, to the injury or prejudice of others.

(4) Diseased Animals : All diseased animals running at large. This is to include any animal determined by the health officer to be vicious.

(5) Manure And Garbage : Accumulations of manure, rubbish, garbage, refuse, junk vehicles, human and industrial, noxious or offensive waste, except the normal storage on a farm of manure for agricultural purposes.

(6) Housing Of Animals Or Fowl : The housing of animals or fowl fifteen feet (15') from the property line to residences, schools, hospitals, public buildings, playgrounds, parks and other places, if said animals create sanitary or health problems to persons or property in close proximity to them.

(7) Abandoned Appliances : To allow an abandoned refrigerator, stove, washer, dryer or any other such device to remain on any premises that does not have the doors locked and/or latches removed.

(8) Open Wells : To allow any open, dug or bored well to remain open without suitable protection such as an approved cover.

(9) Abandoned Structures : To allow any abandoned building, mobile home, shed or other manmade structure to exist which is dangerous to public health because of its condition, faulty construction or lack of proper repair.

(10) Spillage From A Vehicle : To allow the spillage, scatter or loss of refuse from any vehicle used to transport refuse.

(11) Adulterated Food : Adulterated food offered to the public for consumption.

(12) Offensive Privies, Vaults Or Garbage Cans : Privies, vaults or garbage cans which are offensive and which are not flytight, vermin and rodent proof, or do not comply with the requirements of this chapter.

(13) Insects, Rodents And Other Pests : Every owner of a dwelling shall be responsible for the extermination of any insects, rodents, or other pests therein or on the premises whenever infestation is caused by failure of the owner to maintain the dwelling in rodentproof or reasonable insectproof condition. Furthermore, whenever infestation exists in the shared or public parts of any dwelling, extermination shall be the responsibility of the owner. However, every occupant of a dwelling unit shall be responsible for extermination within the dwelling unit when such occupant shall be responsible for infestation.

(14) Refuse Storage And Disposal : No person shall place, leave, dump or accumulate any garbage, rubbish or other refuse in any dwelling, dwelling unit or multiple-dwelling.

(15) Noxious Weeds : Every owner, lessee, renter or tenant being in charge of or being in possession of lands shall control the spread of and eradicate noxious weeds on such lands, using such methods for that purpose and at such times as are approved and adopted by the director of the Illinois department of agriculture. (Ord. 99-260, 10-12-1999)

Unless the context otherwise requires, the term "litter" as used in this Article is hereby defined to mean, but is not limited to, the following:

(1) Any garbage, trash, refuse, debris, rubbish, or furniture.

(2) Grass clippings, tree limbs, or other lawn and garden waste.

(3) Newspapers, magazines, glass, metal, plastic or paper containers, or containers of other packaging construction materials.

(4) Abandoned vehicles, motor parts, and oil.

(5) Carcasses of dead animals, any nauseous or offensive matters of any kind.

(6) Any object likely to injure any person or create a traffic hazard, or anything else of an unsightly or unsanitary nature, which has been disposed of improperly. (Ord. 77-67, § 2, 5-10-1977)

(a) No person shall dump, deposit, throw, discard, leave or cause or permit the dumping, or depositing or discarding or leaving of litter upon any public or private property in this County, or upon any river, lake, pond, stream or any body of water.

(b) There shall be no dumping as described in subsection (a) of this Section unless:

(1) The property has been designated by a local unit of government as a proper litter disposal site, and the litter is disposed of on that property in accordance with the applicable rules and regulations of the State pollution control board.

(2) The litter is placed into a receptacle or other container intended by the owner or tenant in lawful possession of that property for the deposit of litter.

(3) The person is the owner or tenant in lawful possession of the property or has first obtained the consent of the owner or tenant in lawful possession, or the act is done under the personal direction of the owner or tenant and does not create a public health, safety, nuisance or fire hazard.

(4) The person is acting under the direction of proper public officials during special cleanup days.

(5) The person is lawfully acting to or reacting to an emergency situation where health or safety is threatened, and removes and properly disposes of such litter when the emergency situation no longer exists.

(c) No person shall dump, deposit, throw, discard or otherwise dispose of litter from any motor vehicle upon any public road, upon any public or private property or into any river, lake, pond, stream or body of water in this County except as permitted under subsection (b)(1) through (5) of this Section. (Ord. 77-67, §§ 3-5, 5-10-1977)

Any person who violates any of the provisions of this Article shall be punished as provided in Section 1-11 of this Code. In addition, the court may order that the person convicted of such a violation remove and properly dispose of the litter; may employ special bailiffs to supervise such removal and disposal and may tax the costs of such supervision as costs against the person so convicted. The penalties prescribed in this Section are in addition to and not in lieu of any penalties, rights, remedies, duties, or liabilities otherwise imposed or conferred by law. (Ord. 77-67, § 7, 5-10-1977)

(a) In case the owner, agent or occupant of any premises or lot neglects or fails to clean up and remove all garbage, rubbish and other refuse, after due notice and time specified by the Health Officer, the Health Officer may request a private hauler to remove such materials and the expense incurred shall be billed to the owner, agent or occupant.

(b) In case the owner, agent or occupant of any premises or lot neglects or fails to exterminate any infestations of vermin or rodents after due notice and time, as specified by the Health Officer, the Health Officer may cause such vermin or rodents to be exterminated and the expense incurred shall be billed to the owner, agent or occupant.

(c) If the charge for cleanup or extermination remains unpaid, it shall be made a special lien against the property at the next tax roll. Such lien shall be such notice to all persons from the time of its recording, and shall bear interest at the legal rate thereafter until satisfied. (Ord. 99-260, 10-12-1999)

Go to the county level with your problem.


    Bookmark   December 13, 2006 at 5:33PM
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No luck. It just gets worse. He was out there the other day moving junk around and we thought hmmmmmmmm...maybe......But then he dumped a pile of cinder blocks in the cleared space. Cinder blocks, old tub, old rusty shelving. It's outreageous. I just try not to look beyond the trees and hope we can sell at a later date. The real estate market is lousy up our way and we have to finish remodeling the kitchen anyway.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2006 at 10:45PM
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You need to reinforce your trees or fertilize them to get them to get them to grow faster. The junk could possibly harbor standing water which creates a health hazard in that mosquitoes could live in it... yeah... that's the ticket. The county can do something about health hazards you know.

We did buy our property cheap because the neighbors house was a blight. And unless we can buy the property and raze before we go to sell. We likely will have a difficult time selling and will likely have a 20-40K less than what our house is worth. The bad thing is that they still value your house at what it looks like on paper, not taking into account that your home is worth XX less because of the condition of the neighborhood. So they value the house more than what we could get for it and are paying taxes on that amount.

Makes me mad. I mean, how could someone live in a house that has not been painted for 30+ years? They don't want to paint or reside so they have hung tarps up on the house now. Don't they see their house is literally disintegrating? And my neighbors are not disabled or elderly either. They just don't care. And these people just bought a new boat, and they get new cars every two years. They have screwed up priorities.

I only complained once when their unfinished addition collapsed and it became overrun with feral cats that were taking over the neighborhood. I was constantly bringing kittens into the local animal shelter. they started the addition 13 years ago when we moved in... I thought... hmmm... they are fixing up that house maybe it won't look so bad when they are done with it... 10 years later... addition never got finished and it had collapsed.

I just planted some very tall bushes so you don't see it very much anymore. Best thing you can do is screen them off. Good luck. Keep on complaining to your county about the possible health code stuff.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2006 at 10:28AM
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Kitchen remodel started - called it "My Icky Kitchen" if you want to follow it in the kitchen forum. You can see the neighbor's house through the window so you can see what that eyesore looks like. You can't see the mess though, just the side of the house. We've definitely decided to just whip together the kitchen (as nice as we can make it)and sell. Here's hoping shutters and clever window treatments will help to sell.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2006 at 3:21PM
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Kitchen remodel started - called it "My Icky Kitchen" if you want to follow it in the kitchen forum. You can see the neighbor's house through the window so you can see what that eyesore looks like. You can't see the mess though, just the side of the house. We've definitely decided to just whip together the kitchen (as nice as we can make it)and sell. Here's hoping shutters and clever window treatments will help to sell.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2006 at 3:22PM
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Have you considered lattice? Makes a great cover, and you can get ivy and other stuff to grow on and over it.

If you still want to find out who has his homeowner's, well, you could take a walk over there and fall or something. Back and knee injuries are expensive, and they're covered by homeowner's, aren't they? :)

    Bookmark   January 5, 2007 at 10:45AM
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I have read your comments regarding the city saying they can do nothing. If premises are rat infested, they are required to act by law. This becomes health hazard and if your city has no ordinance developed, the state or county should have health procedures to deal with this. Surely they have a health and safety code. The more agencies all neighbors call will be great and can produce results. Many reports/complaints to city, county, state will alert them something needs to be done. Your property could have impact from any rodent infestations. Diseases are carried by rodents. Their family is at danger.

(1)Call County Child Protective Services - children may need to be protected from health hazards if house infected with rodents - if hoarding is issue & it may be this also is issue for children - children have been taken away from parents because of this - these children need protection - I would think this would be big issue. If house has openings for wild then health hazards exist for children. Agencies need to protect children. Pressure them if no action done soon. Show lots of concern for the children. Call State CPS if you have to.
(2)Call County Adult Protective Services -express health concern for adults living on premises - health hazards- have many calls placed to APS by as many neighbors as you can. Keep Pressuring. Do repeat calls. Call State APS if you have to.
(3)If your neighbor is threatening - call police and file anonymous complaint if possible. Call police and express concern about - video tape him at all times. Attempt to catch him doing something illegal. Do not do anything yourself. You must keep distance. Lay low around him - attempt to get agencies working.
(4)Call all council member and insist to vote on getting ordinances passed to deal with issue. Many other cities have these ordinances. If a petiton must be started then start a petition
(5)Attempt to get as many neighbors as possible to call each and every organization mentioned above
(6)Call your county & state health department - check on their laws and ordinances. They have to be concerned about health hazards. Legally state laws may cover your city. Check.
(7)Call Code Officer in your City.
(8)Call the Fire Department in your City if you suspect a fire hazard. If house rat infested fire hazard does indeed exist. Also hoarding in house creates fire hazard. As you are next door neighbor your house is at danger also. Get them involved also
(9)Call news media/newspapers. Let them know if city will do nothing. Let them know if Child Protective Services, Adult Protective Services, County and State Health Department, Fire Department, Police Department, Code Officer will do nothing. What can they do about helping get health hazards taken care of? Have pictures available. Any openings in house are an alert - pictures. Pictures of rats, skunks, wildlife important to support your request. Etc.

The more that call and pressure, the more likely action will be taken. Just keep in mind these people are workers. And most workers are overwhelmed with the amount of work they are required to do. Polite pressure and push may have to be placed. Health and safety are the big issues to be concerned about. Possible Rat infestation is required Health department issue to be addressed. I would assume your city does have a Health and Safety Code. All of this comes under Health and Safety. Know your codes so you are not just being stalled. Child Protective Services is anoher big action for you to undertake. Some of these people you are talking to are usually elected officials. Hope they want to get re-elected. Remember to be polite at all times. Show respect for neighbor, but highest concern about important issues mentioned.

As for the people who are hoarding homeowners, they have a psychological disorder. Hoarders have Obsessive Compulsive Disease - Hoarding is an arm of this OCD diagnosis. Usually they also have other co-morbidity existing psychological conditions as well. They lack healthy mental judgment. These people unfortunately can not see what they are dong nor what harm they are doing to others. I feel very sorry for these people, but their issues must be dealt with. Neighbors can not do it. These individuals will usually not do it on voluntary basis. The more you confront them, the more combative they can become and the hoarding usually increases. Only when they have no choice and are forced by agencies will mess be cleaned up. And usually is through gotten court order by city to do.

I live in California and my next door neighbor is a hoarder.
I have been going through same problem. Neighbors are quite upset Home prices here are very expensive with just lots averaging $1,000,000+. And keep in mind these are not "rich an famous" lots. These prices are just Marin County prices. I am five minutes from San Francisco so prices high. City of Mill Valley finally declared house a health hazard and dangerous building. You may go into Mill Valley City Codes via internet - do search. Neighbors had to be out by June 20th. Neighbors had county health come in and they got extension to July. City had taken plenty of pictures and went to court to fight for family eviction and persuade courts to allow city clean up of house - over ride county health department extension order. Judge shocked at pictures and readily gave order and over-ruled county health inspector. Marin County Health Inspector was a jerk!! Hope he does not have a job any longer. Elderly woman was taken away via ambulance. Adopted 40+yo son taken away police car. City Subcontractors are moving into their fourth week of cleanup tomorrow. They were averaging three large debri boxes a day. Now they are down to two a day. House and yard had heavy rat infestation. House was piled with garbage to ceiling all way through house. House had only pathways. All of this hidden behind drapes. City suspected, neighbors too - we were all correct and was much worse than thought. Odor of house was horrible. Ventilation machine were set-up outside and vented throguh windows. Crews are wearing protective clothing , high grade masks, rubber boots, gloves, hats, etc. As of last week - third week - exterminator still has not eliminated all of the rats. Last known count caught were 60+ at end of two weeks. And these were just ones found. They are using anticoagulant + traps so some will not be found. Lights and water were turned off due to hazards and possible fire. Homeowners must pay for all costs to clean house up. No word yet - will house have to be torn down. Since multiple agencies(like I mentioned above + others) have gotten involved it has now become a serious situation for these homeowners. Homeowners have been put up in hotel while all of this is being done - they will ultimately pay. Set up by the agencies. Many neighbors did call to complain, and insisted on action. Now situation is in hands of the agencies and the courts. Neighbors will be billed for costs through Tax Collector. Nonpayment for cleanup will result in tax collector seizure of their house. Confidentiality is being respected well by these agencies, so I will not know final outcome for awhile. Only time will tell. House was worse clean up this subcontractor has ever done during their 20 years in business.

I hope this helps you understand I too realize what you are going through. Good luck and with right amount of pressure you can too. Really sounds like rats may be a problem and that in itself is a must take care of by any city. And the children's safety. So sad we must go this far. My neighbors too did not do anything voluntarily. We all tried to no avail. I am a nurse and realized probably would not be done. All is so sad as it was something that they could have prevented, but their illness prevented them. Smile - and they still don't understand. I was not surprised due to my research on hoarding.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 12:56AM
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We are on the market. It's just consumed me. Thank you Sharon for your e-mail. I feel I've done everything I can short of instigate a really hostile situation with this neighbor. I will be extra picky when I choose this next home and assume a "what you see is what you get and it can get worse" attitude.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 7:21AM
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Please note my registered name has been changed from Sharon to Hajni. I responded yesterday to sameboat re: hoarding neighbor and problems. First of all I do want to say thank you for acknowledging my email.

I have reread my email and wanted to clarify a few things. I do not want anyone reading my post to feel I am an snoopy neighbor causing problems for my neighbors. Actually I was last of the neighbors to still be giving my blind elderly neighbor rides. But I was still quite concerned about issues.

This elderly neighbor was working with an attorney here in Marin when her sister died a couple of years ago. That attorney did eveything in his power to get her to accept help and confront her adopted 40+ son's problems. Son's problems include multiple arrests for theft, inability to get or hold a job, etc. He is also a college graduate. This son does recycling. And has difficulty selling his finds to a recycling business. Lets his mother go around in dirty clothes. She can't see clothes are dirty, or maybe doesn't care anymore. I have contact with this adopted son's sister, and she told me of attorney's concern. This sister is quite nice, and lives in another state. She is a competent person, and concerned herself. But she does have a full plate herself. Her husband was diagnosed with cancer. The mother(my elderly neighbor) was a dominant person, and when this sister left at 17, she was disowned. Some issues of physical child abuse apparently did exist. The high school had helped her seek counseling. I was unaware of all of this at the time. She went to live with a friend's family that had befriended her when she confided with her friend. Only when my neighbor's sister died and left part of estate to the sister/adopted daughter did my neighbor's contact with her begin again. She is in precarious situation as she just started communication with her family after 28 years. She realizes Gar's position in family's household. She actually got a letter from my neighbor saying not to worry if she tries to call. She was told they are living elsewhere while house is being cleaned. She has to respect my neighbor's decision to hide what is actually going on. She just wrote back and gave her contact numbers to call her if needed. This was her way of opening door to call her and/or should situation get worse. Presently she has not been invited to help. She feels can do nothing at present, but hopes she may be asked. Or City asks about other relatives, and they call her.

Both of these neighbors are most definitely in an apparent co-dependent relationship. She defends him totally. And possibly her dominance in household has now changed. Adopted son may now actually be the dominant person due to my neighbor's blindness and possible difficulty dealing with issues due age and disability. This son's arrests - she has defended him saying he never committed crimes he was accused of, but fact is he plead guilty to all arrests. Has been on house arrest at least twice that I am aware of. The elderly neighbor's blindness keeps him from going to prison. He does not tell her the truth about his arrests and charges per this elderly neighbor. She actually told me she has talked with his attorneys and found information he told her is not true. I said it was all sad. Told her she had to be careful as his problems could seriously come to affect her financially as well. I told her she really needed to get him psychological counseling help since he continues to have problems. Told her I was concerned about her. Of course nothing ever done.

My actions have been to go to great lengths to get her social service help. Social service per request of her attorney, and they actually came to her house. She wouldn't let them in, nor did she follow-up with them. She totally declined. Attorney kept suggesting. These were private social service workers she was referred to. They were not county social service workers. I was asked to attempt to refer and convince her all was just to help her realize programs were available for her. But legally a person does have a right to decline help on a voluntary basis. I feel she knew house was a mess and didn't want anyone to see. This is a pretty typical reaction of a hoarding family. Only when agencies declare hazards is individual forced to actually comply legally. Our voluntary sincere efforts to help were met with more isolation and distancing two years ago. And her declines of assistance. And sadly this is medically expected reaction.

Family arrested - APS request to police for assistance. Attempts to get voluntary psychological counseling and actual talks to counselors once they were arrested on 5150 were to no avail. I am not sure how this developed. My guess is APS is agency that proceeded ahead. Psychological evaluation probably revealed problems apparent, but legally declared not sufficient deficient impairment to function in house at that time. My guess is health and fire hazards still issues and had to become the next focal point stances of the city. APS had to have major concerns also and their involvement continued. APS is definitely involved presently. This explanation is from my professional experience knowledge how process actually works.

I did not place any of the multiple actual first calls. I have since. My main concern is health and safety for everyone. Everyone has been on alert since clean up has started. All pets are kept inside or yards checked before letting animals out. Secondary poisoning of our pets, the un-targeted animals is a real issue. Neighbors have had to bait their yards as clean-up has continued. Special attempts to secure houses and yards more were done prior to cleanup. As we all know rats can scatter, when their home is taken away. Rats are leary of new surroundings, but will relocate if forced. And this is the fact - rats are being forced out- their home refuge being removed. City has warned all neighbors of this fact. City went around house by house or letters sent to households they did not talk with. We received business cards and phone numbers to call should questions arise. My research verifies all the issues involving rodent infestation. City is attempting to decrease this possibility as much as possible. City did not even indicate which house. They have been very careful.

I do want to say City of Mill Valley is known for it's friendly attitude. They have been great and very patient in attempts to help this family cleanup on a voluntary basis. The swimming pool had contaminated water in it for years also. Mosquitoes a concern. West Nile Virus is here in Marin County. Several cases. Animal Heart Worm is an issue - one neighbor's dog diagnosed a year ago. Neighbors refused city's request to voluntarily empty pool. Realize several issues were present that city legally had to act upon. City is legally required to act according to state/county/city laws in place. And they have tried very hard. I do not believe they wanted any of this situation to proceed as far as it has gone.

Family actually had two weeks notice to finally clean up prior to them being evicted. Eviction to temporary housing could have been prevented. A process is available that they could have used. Adopted son must have been dealing with issues, and no real clean up was ever actually done, and he most certainly did not take care of properly for his mother. He said he had extension papers from county but could not produce documents on the morning of June 20th. So they were both removed.

I personally advised them they really needed to hire someone to empty all out before deadline. I told them consequences could be serious if they didn't. And I hated to see anything happen. I recommended it would be cheaper to hire crew to just take all away. Empty the pool. They just had no choice anymore since notice given. She then proceeded to asked me if I could haul away garbage in my new SUV. I said no as I has already had a rat get into my old SUV. Cost of repair amounted to 3,000+ for my insurance company - I had to pay $500 deductible. I could not take anymore chances. They were not aware of my problem before. And I was not attacking in anyway, just explaining why I Would not do. Family was actually upset I said no, and immediately and defensively stated they did not have a rat problem when I explained my reason for refusing. They stated and claimed rats were coming from creek behind us. I told them I was not accusing and was sorry she misinterpreted my reasons, and I was just stating why I could not haul anything. So sad. And not surprising. They have always been quite good at attempting to get help free. And quite pushy to get what they want. I have been aware of this all along. Sometimes I could do, sometimes just declined, or had to alter their requests to make sure I remained in control.

REACTION OF DANGEROUS STRUCTURE NOTICE BY THE HOMEOWNERS- They ignored all my kind advice I attempted to give when dangerous structure notices were placed on house. Adopted son was actually saying all was taken care of and both seemed they were taking the notice very lightly. She actually said she was not concerned. She told me they could not evict her as she is a homeowner and she has rights. She was not worried. She still claimed yard and house was not a mess. I saw it was horrible, and realized denial present and issue was serious. I was very polite, realizing I could not change their mind.

All neighbors here are very friendly. They respect a neighbors privacy. Several did call and they finally admitted once they were moved out for cleanup. Their main concern was for the neighbors health and safety and their own safety. I have since called and expressed my concern as well.

I professionally know this situation needs to be taken care of by the agencies. I have tremendous empathy for these neighbors. Professionally, I sadly realize these neighbors can not admit their problem, nor can/will do anything on a voluntary basis. They are psychologically unable to do so. I also realize they may/will be able to return to home once premises are cleaned. They legally will have to pay bill, but any Tax Collector liens may/will still take some time. Maybe not. I am still not sure how soon costs have to be paid. She does have rights as she owns property outright. Hoarding from adopted son will likely continue and situation has high percentage of chance to reoccur. This is so sad as she had always kept house neat in past. Question is - psychologically how does she contribute to the hoarding?? Has she become a hoarder too?? I have not fully analyzed her contribution to date.

I look upon the situation as a "tough love" consequence due to continued ignorance and abuse of rules. You can feel sorry for people/person, but realize they must face any consequences as a result of their continued actions. All is sad, difficult to do, and sad to realize you can not offer to help. Any offers of help now are just enabling the condition further. This son actually asked me if I would take her in. I was advised this would not be wise, and that many legal issues existed. I did not want to either, and said this is a situation I could not do. Told them unfortunately they now needed to deal with agencies. I was told they are mad at me. This is an expected reaction, but can realize reaction since I had remained somewhat friendly but quarded. Agencies must be given full responsibility and control over this issue.

This is how the hoarding homeowner neighbor situation has progressed here in our small town. I am not sure how any of this helps some of you who have a hoarding neighbor. I hope many of you realize health and safety are issues that are very important to those hoarding neighbors, and to you, and the other neighbors. All neighbors need to be alert to recognize any/all health and safety issues. Hoarders and the home situation do invite these health and safety issues to develop. Junk inside and outside a home create wild animal/rodent refuge and they do multiply quickly in number.

Brown rats carry some diseases, including Weil's disease, cryptosporidiosis, Viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF), Q fever and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. In the United Kingdom, brown rats are an important reservoir for Coxiella burnetii, the bacteria that causes Q fever, with seroprevalence for the bacteria found to be as high as 53% in some wild populations.[46]

This species can also serve as a reservoir for Toxoplasma gondii, the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, though the disease usually spreads from rats to humans when domestic cats feed on infected brown rats.[47] The parasite has a long history with the brown rat, and there are indications that the parasite has evolved to alter an infected rat's perception to cat predation, making it more susceptible to predation and increasing the likelihood of transmission.[48]

Surveys and specimens of brown rat populations throughout the world have shown that this species is often associated with outbreaks of trichinosis,[49][50] but the extent to which the brown rat is responsible in transmitting Trichinella larvae to humans and other synanthropic animals is at least somewhat debatable.[51] Trichinella pseudospiralis, a parasite previously not considered to be a potential pathogen in humans or domestic animals, has been found to be pathogenic in humans and carried by brown rats.[52]

Brown rats are sometimes mistakenly thought to harbor bubonic plague, a possible cause of The Black Death. However, the bacteria responsible, Yersinia pestis, incubates in only a few rodent species and is usually transmitted zoonotically by rat fleas - common rodents include ground squirrels and wood rats. In short, a brown rat may catch fleas that have plague, but cannot contract the disease itself, whereas other non-rodent species like dogs, cats, and humans can be bitten by diseased fleas or come in contact with an infected animal and then become infected themselves.[53]

DISPOSAL OF ALL DEAD RODENT CARCASSES. Individuals are advised to wear gloves and masks prior to picking up carcasses. Bleach should be poured over entire body front and back before picking up. Let sit for a few minutes. Put in plastic bag and seal. Put in garbage. Change your clothes immediately.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 6:46PM
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Some times I wonder if an inordinate interest in the details of the lives of others is an obsessive/compulsive disorder.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 7:15AM
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"Some times I wonder if an inordinate interest in the details of the lives of others is an obsessive/compulsive disorder."

Sometimes perhaps, but more likely the lack of a life of one's own.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 9:51AM
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i just saw an article on foxnews website today that show JUST how far people are going putting their nose's in other folks business. a guy took his kids to a park and was taking pictures of HIS kids as they went down the slide. the other folks at the park called him a pervert and said that he was taking kiddie porn pics to put on the web. for taking pics of his dressed kids sliding!

folks need to STFU, get a life and MYOB.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 10:54AM
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Perhaps you wouldn't be so smug and insensitive to this woman's plight if it were YOUR hard-earned lifetime savings going up in smoke because of the outward actions of your neighbor. How someone can construe her concern over the loss of her investment as somehow constituting meddling in her neighbors business is beyond me. In fact, by the neighbor's own irresponsible non-private behavior, it is they who are imposing in their neighbors business.

What quality of a life is it to sit around on the internet posting comments that add nothing other than get a life? sheesh.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 7:01AM
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phxphun, my response was not to the OP who started this thread over 2 years ago, but was to Sharon. at the time i responded i did not see the 2nd post where Sharon changed her name and clarified a couple things. in her first post it came across to me like she recommended calling all sorts of agencies to take care of a problem in a neighbor's home. Child protective services should NEVER be called on awhim, and too often now folks use them to settle personal disputes when the kids are NOT being mistreated. i had a friend lose their kids for over a year because someone who disliked them called CPS claiming neglect. as is often teh case, CPS rolls in all overzealous and assumes abuse first and only later RELUCTANTLY finds no further reason. they never admit they were at fault, they just say they find no further reason to withhold the kids.

if you had read the thread at all you would see that the OP took MY ADVICE 2 YEARS AGO and now is finally moving.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 1:39PM
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davidandkasie, I completely understand why you thought my post was addressed to you. However, it actually was not. I was responding to the two posts immediately prior to yours, which struck me as nothing more than quick jabs that offered nothing substantiative to the discussion. I apologize for the confusion, I should have made it clear whose comments I was addressing.

By the way, I did read the entire thread and while I didnt agree with your advice to move, I can appreciate your perspective.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 4:58PM
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I'm having the same problem. Our neighbors house is a dump. We just bought our house almost a year ago. We are first time home buyers so we din't really investigate the neighbors house too much before we decided. Big mistak on our part. We are in no position to sell.. His house towers over our fence & the door that he uses to in and out is right there. we only have one way to get to the backyard and thats on his side. It's horrible. He has a crawl space under his house and you can see all the garbage under there. I can only imaging the rats. He has a dog that he keeps outside. I see a flea color on the dog (and those don't work- trust me I have 3 pets) We recently had to spend a bunch on money to have our house sprayed. I think the fleas are coming from his house because he also doesnt not cut his grass and everything is way over grown. Trash litters his yard and he doesnt not have the garbage man pick up his cans. So what it looks like is that he throws his garbage in the yard. sometimes I smell something burning- I think he burns the garbage that he does not throw in his yard. He has holes in his house. I saw birds going into it. Also, I always feel like he is staring at me. He put up black curtains on the side that we see. I hardly go out back anymore. Once he found out that we are sick of it and we told him that his property is bringing down everybody's value's of their homes in the neighborhood. He started to try and clean up a little bit. But his house is ruined and too old. It needs to be demolished. The sad thing is he has a 10 yr old boy that is forced to live like that. He has a hose going in his back windows. He refuses to sell his property and move. I looked up and found that he bought his house from someone (I'm thinking maybe his Mom) but he bought it for $10.00. So he probably refuses to move because he doesn't owe anything on it. I think were stuck. So I started to build lattice things that I attach to the top of our 6 ft wooden fence. We don't have much money to do all the work at once. So I'm doing slow.... I have big plans to block the view but it cost so much for building materials. This whole thing has me very stressed. And my anxiety levels are through the roof. I'm scared of him, I think he's a weirdo. He works during the day but he comes home at the same time everyday and does not leave his house till the next morning and on the weekends he never leaves. He comes outside when it gets dark. He put a dog house right next to our fence. I hate fleas, rats and I know they are over there. I have photos placed on a blog. Check it out.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 4:03PM
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angie, i find it hard to believe that if his place is that bad you did not see it when you looked over your home before the purchase. it sucks, but hopefully you won't make that mistake again!

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 8:46PM
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Oh Angie I feel for you. I am the OP and we SOLD our home and moved a couple of towns away to a beautiful spot. We sure did check out the neighbors this time around. We checked out every window. We went online and did an aerial search of the neighborhood. We found a lot of homes for sale next door to hoarders. It was pretty surprising to see so many. Anyway, I feel like a different person since moving. I drive by the house every now and then and see what I left behind. It breaks my heart to see my beautiful old home but then I look next to it - the ladders, the junk, the holes...we had to price our home to sell and listened to the Realtor's suggestions to price it according to the market. We sold in less than 30 days. Amazing Grace.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 7:53PM
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Angie I tried to view your blog but the link said I had to have an invite?

    Bookmark   January 15, 2009 at 2:21PM
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I am glad to see you've moved on. You sound a lot happier.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2009 at 12:39AM
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I am like a new person.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 4:13PM
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