Neighbor's yard is full of junk

rubber_duckie_27May 7, 2007

We live in a quiet, middle class neighborhood. Neighbors will wave hello, but not much else (it's not a "close knit" sort of neighborhood although everyone is pleasant). Almost everyone keeps their home and yard reasonably neat and attractive. We bought our house in late winter last year and apparently the snow covered the junk in the yard of the neighbor behind us!

Our first introduction to "Bob" was when he knocked on our back door, drunk as a skunk with his young child in tow - he spent 45 minutes in our house (we were painting before moving in) and we had a hard time getting them to leave.

All summer long, he and his wife throw parties on weekends that last into the late evening, usually capped by a home fireworks display. They burn leaves/sticks/anything flammable in a large 55 gallon oil drum to provide lighting for these parties. It absolutely reeks when they burn leaves (which is against city ordinance - I have been tempted to call the fire marshal in hopes they'd be caught in the act). They allow their dog to run loose when they're home, including into neighbors' yards. Our dog (a beagle mix) is always leashed or on a tie-out (only when we're outside with her) and I do not appreciate his dog charging onto my property to harass our dog! We do not care that his dog is friendly, we don't want it in our yard without my permission.

They had an above-ground pool when we moved in. Shortly after we moved in, Bob decided to tear out his existing pool and installed a larger one. He matter-of-factly informed us that he didn't have a permit for the pool because it was too close to our property line, and asked us not to call the city's P&Z office on him. He has since constructed an elevated deck around the pool (again, no permit), and in the summer he attaches large halogen work lights to poles in order to provide lighting for evening pool parties.

There is a full-sized RV parked NEXT to his house in violation of city ordinance; all RVs must be parked at the rear of the property. It has not moved in at least 13 months. The windshield has a large blue tarp covering it where he shot it out on a camping trip (don't even ask how we learned this).

The entire yard is littered with pieces of lumber, stacks of wood (he cut down all the 100+ foot tall oaks in his yard last summer), old rusty 55-gallon drums, plastic drums of some kind, bags of yard waste, childrens' toys, a large trampoline, and a 4-wheeler with a metal cart on the back. This is on a quarter-acre lot! Frankly, it's a disgusting eyesore and insulting to all the neighbors who actually put a lot of effort into having nice lawns and yards.

We do not have a fence in our backyard, but are now saving to have one put in - likely next summer. Even once we save up for it, we're limited to 6' in height by city ordinance - that will not be enough. Right now we have some nice forsythia growing close to our property line and are planning to plant more.

Our city has an ordinance against blight, indicating that property owners are to keep yards and home exteriors free of rubbish, junk, and abandoned vehicles. I have a list of all of his violations and am considering starting to take pictures of the disgusting yard - we have an excellent view of the junk and rubbish from our master bedroom!

Would it be advisable to call the city? My husband and I are young (I'm 26, he's 28) and Bob thinks we're a couple of kids who will just let him do as he pleases. I don't want to cause problems but I can't be the only neighbor who's fed up with Bob's mess! Sure, you don't need a perfectly manicured yard and everyone occasionally leaves a rake or wheelbarrow out of a shed - but it is constant with him and the junk is EVERYWHERE in Bob's yard. It's dragging down my property value and I'm sick of always having to see his eyesore of a yard and home every time I sit on my deck or look out our bedroom windows. I believe the P&Z commission can fine him $90 for each offense, per day, until he cleans it up.

I worry that he'd know it was us who called, and he'd damage our property in some fashion (key our cars, drain his pool into our backyard, etc.).

As the saying goes, good fences make good neighbors and we intend to get that fence in as soon as we've saved up the money for it.

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This is the first time i've been on this forum. Hope nobody minds if i jump right in.

The problem in todays world is people do take revenge and you usually can't prove it. and you are left with an expensive mess of somekind as my DD learned the hard way.

Can you have a meeting with your other neighbors and several of you make a complaint. Take the problem to a local newspaper or tv media and let them "discover" the mess. Be kinda illegal and build a higher fence than 6'.
It would take a while but red cedar makes a great barrier. If his swimming pool is too close to your property line get a lawyer.
Your neighbor sounds like someone with out a conscience who could care less how you or anyone
else feels.

Good luck and be cautious whatever you decide.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 11:28PM
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Do you live in my neighborhood? We have SO many people like this where I live. I have learned to play hardball. You just can't be nice to these people.

Get the privacy fence put up asap. And then plant shrubs in front of that. And definitely call the city on this clown for his burning as it is an environmental issue. And the pool thing and the RV. As for the junk, it is probably going to be an ongoing battle. Cause when he cleans it up, he will just replace it with more junk.

If you feel threatened or get harassed in ANY way, call the police. And if you need to, keep a log of any harassment (verbal, or to your property). And as a last resort, video surveillance is available.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 11:06AM
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Like Oaklief, I don't post here, but have had neighbors such as these in the past. That's why towns/cities need to have ordinances, to prevent this kind of stuff from happening. When we moved to our area almost 30 yrs ago, we had a live and let live attitude. Getting stomped on and pushed around by ignoramouses since then, no more Mr. Nice Guy.
My suggestion: do your research very very well. Talk to the zoning officer or whoever enforces the laws in your township. Discuss with attorney. Document absolutely everything. You won't win any prizes from junkyard neighbor but in the end, I'm betting your other neighbors will thank you. Good luck, keep us posted - Ellen

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 1:25PM
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LOL, Klimkm....I'm in the same boat! My new privacy fence is being erected in a couple of days. I suggest that you do the same, Rubber duckie. I had to call the fire deparatment on a neighbor of mine who persisted (despite neighbor's complaints) in burning scrap wood, shingles, sticks, leaves and whatever in his back yard. In the middle of the city. My neighbor hasn't burned in his back yard since. Having two fire trucks pull up to your house with sirens screaming is a pretty effective deterrent.

1 Like    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 9:29PM
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i have never heard of requiring a permit for an above ground pool. in ground, sure you do, but above ground pools are easily moveable and thus no permit required in my area. heck, he could get the permit, put it up in an area that ia acceptable, then once the inspection is done take it down and move it back over. that is why in my area these are no permit required. the deck would require a permit ONLY if it is above 4 ft off the ground and only if it is permanent. i know of many people here who build 3 ft decks and set them on blocks so that no permit is required.

don't get me wrong, i feel your pain. i am just saying that in my area the only places that the things he is doing are unacceptable is in HOA areas. the only thing the city would touch would be the piles of wood and debris, for that they will get you.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2007 at 10:48AM
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does your city have an anonymous tell line? Might be one way to go if they do. Since our city installed a tell line, numerous gardens have suddenly become junk fee!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 8:00AM
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You my son, "rubber Duckie" need to get some nerve and talk to your neighbor. It is rude, sneeky, and cowardly, to go behind you neighbors back and tattle tale on him. If you do not live in the middle of nowhere, you are going to have to deal with people - get over it. He has made himself available to you by welcoming you to the neighborhood. It sounds like you are more at odds with his lifestyle, "drunk as a skunk " because it is against your (christian?) ways. Get a privacy fence, join his pool party's, get drunk, and live in peace. If the burning bothers you tell him your wife is allergic and you would perfer he not - if he doesn;t respect your wishes then call the police on him.

"Walt Whitmans Caution
TO The States, or any one of them, or any city of The States, Resist much, obey little;
Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved;
Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city, of this earth, ever afterward resumes its liberty."

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 4:54PM
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"It is rude, sneeky, and cowardly, to go behind you neighbors back and tattle tale on him. If you do not live in the middle of nowhere, you are going to have to deal with people - get over it. He has made himself available to you by welcoming you to the neighborhood. It sounds like you are more at odds with his lifestyle, "drunk as a skunk " because it is against your (christian?) ways. Get a privacy fence, join his pool party's, get drunk, and live in peace. If the burning bothers you tell him your wife is allergic and you would perfer he not - if he doesn;t respect your wishes then call the police on him. "

That is the stupidest thing I have read all day...but its still early here.

Take pictures and call the town on this drunk SOB. You don't want to be his friend. Let the town know that if they don't take action you will take action against the town AND call in the DEC to see what is decaying into the ground from the 55 gallon drums. People like this clown should move to a trailer park in #&%^%$R& county.

Don't even try to be nice to this guy. Do you think he is going to just clean up his act because you asked him to? No he won't. He needs to be forced to do it. He is violating the town laws so don't feel bad about calling the town.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 11:56AM
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Thru review of the prior comments - all the neighbors had to do was let the neighbor know that they were bothering them, just because they used the law doesn't mean they had to, and they corrected their action - just because certain people like "diyourselfer" have to be "forced" into doing the right thing, i don't believe that most people do - I believe most people want to do good and are good people. for example, if you ask for directions, everyone wants to jump in and help, You are not in an apt building - you have to live next to this person for a long period of time - piss off your neighbor and you will have to deal with the consequences - there are a lot of legal ways to piss people off - so if you want to fight, go behind his back. And no, that guy doesn't belong in a trailer - it sounds as though he has more money than rubber duckie - maybe rubber duckie belongs in a trailer, then he could call the landlord to handle his problems for him. Does the drinking make him belong in a trailer - more doctors than any other profession are drunks so ... there there is proof that diyourselfer's logic is flawed in other areas, so there is a possibility that there is flaws in all its logic.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 4:25PM
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Duckie, You are the neighbor on one side. Is there a neighbor on the other side? Do you know that person? If not, why not? Have you talked with that person about this issue? What is their reaction?

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 4:49PM
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I'm just wondering about the lights on the pole so they can see in the pool at night. Hmmmm....wondering how safe that is and if they risk electrocution. And burning fires without permits? That's really very dangerous.

I agree that talking to your neighbors is the first step - I do believe in keeping the peace whenever possible. But when your neighbors are risking your safety with burning trash and everything else they do, I think if talking to them doesn't work you are perfectly justified in taking it to the next level.

Good luck. BTW - Techny Arborvitae are excellent privacy trees - you can let them grow all in a row to form one long hedge that stands 8-10 feet tall. Watering with "Miracle Grow" does wonders.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 11:23PM
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i am sorry, but you have a right to enjoy YOUR property as you please, and he has a right to enjoy his as HE pleases. if he is within the letter of the law, then you have 2 choices, deal with it or move.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 11:20AM
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"we have a right to beauty". Many people have the same opinion. And like you, they feel that others should spend their time and money to secure it for you/them. How much of your time and money are you willing to spend for what I consider to be my "rights"?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 1:04PM
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The OP is over ten months old. I wonder what happened?

You recent posters are being awfully snarky. People don't have rights to do whatever they want to just because it is on their property. The OP had legitimate concerns about safety. If the town/city has ordinances concerning property upkeep they should be enforced. When they aren't it can and does affect others' property values. Maybe that is why the OP's seller sold in the winter when everything was covered!

With people walking away from their homes because of foreclosures, those houses can become a real blight on the neighborhood, and that definitely impacts property values.

Just as one bit of graffiti on a wall attracts more, so the blight can spread until the neighborhood is run down. People have a responsibility to each other: it's called community, and I am really glad that our neighbors take pride in their property and keep it well maintained.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2008 at 11:32PM
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well, in my yard there are 8 55 gallon drums, a trampoline, a swingset, 3 lawn/garden tractors, 6 cords of fire wood, 2 grills, 3 picnic tables, a dog pen near the house, another pen at the back of the lot, the 5x10 trailer for my mower, the lawn cart, and a bunch of 5 gallon buckets. if anyone were to approach me and demand i remove said items from my property, they would get a boot in their ass as a response. each and every items serves a purpose and each item is in IT'S place.

if the OP wanted to govern how the property around them looks, then they should have moved in to a HOA/Nazi controlled subdivision.

funny, but i seem to recall that our country was founded with the idea of "certain unalienable rights", including the right to "the pursuit of happiness", and to me tha tmeans the "junk" man should have to right to keep his property how he sees fit if it makes him happy and poses no direct threat to others. there are NO laws guaranteeing property values, so how his property affects others does not matter.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2008 at 11:05AM
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But would you consider (for your OWN esthetic reasons) putting up a shed of some kind for the tractors, buckets and mower stuff? Yes you may have the right to do whatever you want, but don't you yourself care about having a restful looking space vs whatever it now looks like?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2008 at 5:36AM
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i do have a shed for them, though most of the time the are sitting in the yard cause the shed is also my workshop. but my point is that what looks like a bunch of junk to one person may not look that way to another.

i recently saw a yard in East texas that had at least 25 old lawn tractors and farm tractors sitting in it. to me that was a beautiful sight. to others, i am sure it looked like a junk yard.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2008 at 10:00PM
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We have a horrid neighbor with the constant barking dog and the nasty yard. Talking to your neighbor about the issue is not always the best idea. We did that and we were not the only neighbors with an issue. They retaliated against us when they received compliance request/police visits from the city because they assumed every time it was us filing a complaint because we were the only ones to bring the issue to them.

I would file a report with your city codes department for any questionable hazardous articles, for overgrown lawn, call the fire dept. every time they burn something, call the police dept. when they are out partying late at night- that is a violation of noise ordinance or disturbing the peace in most cities.
Don't put up with it- you have the right to peace and quiet both in the visual and auditory senses.
To the people that do junk up their yards and find it a beautiful sight- think of the majority of your neighbors that don't. If you have one person on each side of you and one behind-that is 3 families that are potentially disgusted by your mess.
Also, why is that people with the dump zones for yards never put up a privacy fence? They leave it out in plain view and out of disgust the other neighbors end up shelling out money for a privacy fence.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2008 at 11:50PM
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Maybe you've read Dr. Seuss's story "Yertle the Turtle". Yertle declares that he's "king of all I can see". Some people, like my neighbor across the street, seem to think they too are "king of all they can see".

    Bookmark   May 4, 2008 at 12:52PM
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To the people that do junk up their yards and find it a beautiful sight- think of the majority of your neighbors that don't. If you have one person on each side of you and one behind-that is 3 families that are potentially disgusted by your mess.

well, considering that i live in a rural neighborhood outside the city limits, my yard is jus tlike all my neighbors. one guy a few houses up the street took 3 years building his 4000+ sq ft house. he finally moved in last fall. his yard has 5 non running, or at least never driven, vehicles, 6 4wheelers, and 9 piles of dirt. everything but the dirt was put there shortly after he moved in. he had the dirt hauled in about a month ago, and it has been piled half on his drive and half in the yard since then, he has spread maybe a couple of wheelbarrows full.

and no, hardly any of us have a privacy fence up either.

don't get me wrong, homes in my neighborhood sell in the mid-high range of local real estate. but then again, no one ever sells either.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 5:31PM
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I got a bit of a chuckle reading the original post and the follow-ups.

I see two sides to the story and I have been on both sides. I think that some communities go way too far in trying to regulate what a person may, or may not, do within the confines of their property. I also think that some people go way too far in what they "ask" (without asking) their neighbors to put up with.

I live in an older (20 years since construction) upscale neighborhood. Until the recent downturn in prices most of the homes around me were in the approximately half-million dollar price range. The neighbor behind me has two untrained dogs that bark and growl anytime I go into my back yard. The dogs have essentially destroyed the yard and have the run of the lowest level of the house, the patio door is left open year round. The front of this house is set back from the street and has no outward signs of the dump that is the back yard.

The neighbor to the west of me has a RV parked behind a fence but it is still clearly visible both from my house/yard and from the street. They leave all their garbage, yard waste and recycle bins in an area that is clearly visible from the street. Their garage hasn't had a vehicle in it for years.

The neighbors to the east of my house have two teen-age children. Sometimes they will be playing and making noise, especially bouncing a basketball. They usually have no less than two vehicles in their driveway. For the past week there has been frequent sound of an air rifle being fired.

South of me and adjacent to the eastern neighbors is a county greenbelt. The neighbors had planted ivy long ago and it has overgrown into my yard and into the greenbelt where it now grows over my fence along with blackberries.

And guess what? I live with it all. I don't cut my grass as often as it needs because the only one that can see it besides me is the neighbor behind me with the torn up yard. I still have some dead scrub trees from a windstorm of a year ago in my yard.

I haven't had my (single) vehicle in the garage for years but neither have most of the people in this area.

But except for my car nobody can see any of my yard so its unkempt condition is of no consequence to the community.

It would be wonderful if we could still live as they did generations ago, with the closest neighbor five miles (or more) distant so that nobody's individual lifestyle would clash with their neighbor's lifestyle. But we can't.

The original poster had some legitimate beefs in my opinion but they also had some pretty rigid standards they were trying to impose upon neighbors that were there before they moved in. I think there is definitely room for compromise on the part of all.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 9:53PM
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You can remove the junk yourself from your property. If it is metal you can even get money for it.
Since you didn't authorize the installation a light post on your property can't you demand it be removed as tresspassing or lack of easement or something?

    Bookmark   December 2, 2010 at 8:53AM
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**Since you didn't authorize the installation a light post on your property can't you demand it be removed as tresspassing or lack of easement or something?**

Ditto. Yes. The utility company can't install anything on your property without your permission. If they took your neighbor's word for it that the property line was here, when in fact it was there, that is THEIR problem, not yours. You may need to escalate slightly--step A is write a one-page letter (TYPED, not handwritten--make it look like a business letter) to the utility co. explaining that on X date, in your absence and without your permission, a pole (or whatever it's called) was installed on your property; that on Y date, you called to report it; and that now you are writing to inform them that this pole must be removed ASAP.

If step A doesn't work (which it probably will), you may need to spend $200 or so to have a local lawyer send a nasty letter to the utility company.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2010 at 7:13PM
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This is the very reason that one of my first question to the realtor and the seller is how are the neighbors and what are they like. One will never be happy and have peace and quiet with neighbors like yours.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2011 at 6:14PM
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but what realitor is going to tell you the neighbors as a$$s? What neighbors for that matter?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 2:16PM
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This is a great forum. I was brought up in a typical working-class neighborhood in the 1960s and 70s with the mindset of respect for neighbors. I cannot recall anybody ever having an annoying barking dog, raucous teenagers, annoying loud vehicles, tall blinding lights on poles, or junk in their yards. Fast forward a generation, and it seems like nearly every neighborhood has one or two of these fools as described above who move into what had been a peaceful, cooperative neighborhood but have no respect for the existing culture. Most likely come from a rural culture in which people are spaced enough so they don't bother each other no matter what. In fact, in rural culture, the main cultural value is "mind our own business and do what we want on our land", which works in that setting but NOT in closer quarters. So in they come with the penned-up or chained(as opposed to fenced) improperly-conditioned dogs, the bizarre lighting or decorations, the junk in the front yard, the cars on blocks, the jacked-up truck with no catalytic converter or muffler. They are offended when the existing neighbors complain because they have not made the adjustment to a more urban culture; they do not realize that THEY are the offenders. Now, to be fair, the reverse happens sometimes. A subdivision-type person may move to a 10-acre lot in a bucolic rural area, but then makes the mistake of complaining to the neighbor about the saturday afternoon gun practice or the noise created by the four wheeling in the woods behind the house, or tells the neighbor they should clean up their yard junk. People need to always be sensitive to the prevailing culture.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2015 at 3:00PM
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4 year old thread

1 Like    Bookmark   March 5, 2015 at 5:33PM
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