Need advice, neighbors make me nervous

bobblehead1July 24, 2012

Hi, I am a single parent to a now 17 year old. We lived in the same duplex for 15 years, then I bought an older 1924 2 bedroom bungalow at a great price (foreclosure), I put 20% down, no FHA. I had the bones and layout I was looking for, new furnace (had looked at some with really OLD furnaces), solid foundation. But not exactly in the neighborhoods I was looking in (they were a little out of my price range, had foundation probs., or the flippers would get them 1st).

My neighbors on both sides are terrible. One side (corner house) has a retired guy who inheirited the house from his dad who passed, and lives there with his wife and mentally challenged/weed smoking/drinking/thieving 32 yo son. Dad has nothing to do and works in the yard w/ power tools most of the day. They had 4 dogs, the 'wolf' passed away, but I suffered for 2 years with CONSTANT barking. I did go to them once, and was 'threatened' that "he owns the neighborhood" and "he will talk to his gang friends about me", ect. He has made it known he has a gun.

Generally he is TOO friendly and wanting to know my business. I get the feeling he watches me when I mow or shovel, and I dont feel comfortable in my backyard having a conversation, let alone in my backyard for 2 years due to his pitbull chasing barking and lunging at the fence at me.

I did go to the police when he 'threatened' me, and they simply told me it was his 'male bravado' and I shouldnt take it seriously (nice protection, makes me feel really safe!). About the lunging, animal control said "as long as its inside a fence, they cant do anything." I have been too intimidated to file a complaint with AC because I must leave my name. I did call there recently (just to vent...) and was surprised that now his pitbull has been declared "potentially dangerous" and must be on a muzzle with a 3 foot leash at all times (which though the barking has decreased DRAMATICALLY, he still lets it out w/o the above).

The son has set 2 small fires btwn my garage and the womans on the other side, has tossed liquor bottles in my yard, has called me names, smokes and sells weed in the alley, and has stolen from my backyard. This last dramatically stopped when I told the dad that I installed video surveillance (which I didnt). The son has been absent for about 4 months now...

On the other side is a 30 something woman who rents from her brother who couldnt sell his house for what he owed. She parties, has a loud pitbull, too., firepit all summer long at night, tosses garbage in my yard occasionally, and has also called me names (she is friends with son, above).

My son and I have stayed inside mostly, and I lost all enthusiasm for this house.

The neighborhood is not supportive like the last one I lived in.

Shall I prep this house to move? Is this too negative an atmosphere? I am living in limbo!! I am stressed out. Does it sound stressful?? Is it something I can overcome, or is it a losing battle that I should cut my losses? How do I sell this and where do we go? Do we store our things and rent for awhile? I need direction and help. I am very depressed about this whole situation!

The other side

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Shall I prep this house to move? Yes.
Is this too negative an atmosphere? Yes.
Does it sound stressful?? You tell me. In my world it would be very stressful.
Is it something I can overcome, or is it a losing battle that I should cut my losses? You've been there 2 years? What do you think?
How do I sell this and where do we go? Sell it any way you can and go somewhere you have investigated more thoroughly.
Do we store our things and rent for awhile? Not a bad idea if you can afford it and don't have another option.
I need direction and help. I am very depressed about this whole situation! Get your friends and family involved - you need support. Good luck with this and let us know how you proceed.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 8:19AM
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Seems to me you already know the answers to those questions....

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 9:11AM
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I agree totally with the advice above.

These are situations you: cannot change, cannot live with (safely). It's WAY past time to think of your child's safety and get out of there.

And please, before you settle on your next residence, walk up and down the street, (or hallways, if an apt. building) knocking on doors and meeting the neighbors. I would NEVER buy a place without doing that. One bad neighbor can make your home unsafe and unhappy for years to come.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 9:15AM
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I think the decision to move on could be a good one for you. However, I don't know that I would pack up and move on, leaving an empty house for sale. First, I would worry that the empty house could be broken into, or mistreated by the neighbors. Second, in a transitional/borderline neighborhood, I would think having a decent family in the house would tacetly signal to potential buyers that another "decent family" would like the house. I would think that it would increase your chances of selling.

Of course, all that being said, your safety and peace of mind are what really matter.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 10:55AM
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Tell the police about your suspicion of weed sales.

That at least might get them off their fat butts.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 12:58PM
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I think you should sell and get out of there, but I have no idea what the market is like where you are and how much you can afford to lose. Find the Realtor that sold you the house and see if s/he can help give you an idea of what you're up against.
I don't think it's a good idea to leave the house empty either, but if you are really imminently concerned for your safety or your son's - like if the neighbor starts showing off his guns - you've got to get out of there ASAP and not worry about the house.
If you have to cope with living there for a while, I would definitely get security cameras installed outside (including fake decoys) and also get the tallest, most solid fence allowed (brick or block wall?) put up as far as allowed around the house, including the front yard even if only a short picket fence is allowed. Then plant something spiky as a deterrent (bougainvillea, prickly pear, depends on where you live). Also get security for inside the house, or I wouldn't feel safe.
Keep a logbook of every interaction with all these neighbors and their dogs, date, time, exact quotes that you can remember. You really can't report every incident or you'll be a nuisance and you'll look like a troublemaker even though they're the ones causing it, but if you can show a pattern of threatening, dangerous, illegal behavior you'll look like the reasonable one in this situation. Of course, what you'll have to disclose to buyers is a whole other can of worms.
Be careful and keep your flak jacket handy!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 1:33PM
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Thanks for answering/replies! Yes, it is negative, and it would be best to move. I guess I have known this, but the thought of losing the home I worked so hard for and had such hopes for is hard. I planted the garden with perennials the first summer here (before the dogs and neighbors were just too much).

I have NO idea how to move now! I have a lot of stuff-- stuff I bought for the house (ladders, ect) and furniture, ect.

Should I sell, then what do I do with my stuff? Storage till I find another small affordable house?

One good thing now is that animal control has the corner house on their radar, so now they WILL take me seriously.

I will have to do this (prep house/move) step by step, as it seems overwhelming. Thanks for the support.

You are so right, check the neighbors out. I bought in winter, so it was harder. And I actually did meet the older guy (outside 'snooping' when realtor and I met) and first impressions were that he was just a 'friendly' older guy. You never know, appearances are deceiving.

One thing I would suggest to anyone in the future is to check the criminal background of neighbors if you can. The girl next door has a 10 year probation (over now but not then) for felony theft. And the older guys son has some convictions for meth and posession of weed in a car over 4.5 grams (or something) also no insurance (but you know for every conviction there are probably hundreds of incidents before getting caught).

Thanks again

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 3:49PM
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If it was me, I would sell. If I felt safe doing so I would keep living there while selling but if I felt unsafe then I would move out and sell the house while vacant (perhaps staging it so it didn't look so bare).

As far as the stuff you acquired, it falls into 3 categories (we sold a much larger house to downsize):

1. Stuff you don't want any more or don't need after you move but that is of value to others - Sell it. We used Craigslist for that kind of thing and it was worthwhile. For some areas, a garage sale might work.

2. Stuff you don't want any more or don't need after you move but that isn't worth trying to sell -- There is much more of this than category 1. Donate it, give it away, or throw it away. We used all of these. For the throw it away large items we used 1-800-Got Junk to come haul it off. Bear in mind, that many things may fall in this category that you spent a lot of money for.

3. Stuff you do want or need but that has value but you don't have room for - When selling it is best to declutter your home. We were also moving into a temporary rental before buying so we didn't have room for a lot of things. We rented a temperature controlled mini-storage space for about $130 a month (10 x 10 space as I recall). We had that rental space for 2 years while we sold our house and then rented for a year before buying. The stuff we put in there was stuff we wanted to keep that was not easily replaceable (books that aren't on Kindle and are out of print) or that had high value so it was worth the money to rent the space.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 5:41PM
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Although you seem like a pleasant person, I must say that I was pretty offended that you included "mentally challenged" in describing the undesirable son of a less than stellar neighbor. It would have been enough to indicate he sold drugs, did drugs, etc without using that term in a derogatory manner.

As a relative of a mentally challenged individual, I find the way you used this term as offensive as the "R" word.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 6:31PM
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I used mentaly challenged becuase he had a TBI. I am a nurse. I used it to describe the individual, not in a derogatory sense. I could have described him in a derogatory way, but did not. The fact is, he IS mentally challenged. We all have challenges, that is his. I guess I cannot please everyone.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 11:25PM
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Thanks to the others who have replied to this very stressful situation, in which I feel very much alone, and not supported by the community on (though I have tried asking for this support from the appropriate sources, there just arent any-- my old neighborhood was VERY supportive, and I miss that)...

Anyway, I am reading each of your comments and really taking helpful information on how to proceed from each. Thanks for the info on storage lockers, ect. This is a kind of first time situation for me, and so I have no idea how to proceed, and all of this is extremely helpful and I am grateful for it.

I will probably stay here while I fix the house up for sale, since I am doing it myself, in between working, it may take awhile.

But it does help to get this feedback and advice. THANKS

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 11:34PM
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All I can say is that I agree with everyone else who said to sell the house. It sounds incredibly stressful and generally unsafe. Sorry you have to deal with such an awful situation.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 11:46PM
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@RRAH - I'm almost certain everyone is maybe There are MANY people in our society which either have low IQ or not processing at the same speed as the norm which provokes them to conduct in manners/behavior that doesn't make sense. Please offer up a term in your opinion that will not offend anyone but captures this segment of our population which don't have the more popular 'bipolar, autism, etc.'?

Not to be confused with the ________ who have normal IQ and thinking but simply operate at mediocrity.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 9:40AM
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If you Do put the house on the market I would NOT have a sign out front. I don't think I would want the neighbors to know anything about your business until you are on your way out.

In our HOA we are not allowed to have For Sale or For Rent signs. It does not seem to affect the flow of viewers to properties for sale, as most properties are found on the internet, it seems.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 2:38PM
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Wife's friends in a similar neighborhood got a good deal from the insurance company when her neighbors kids torched her house.

You are well insured?

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 2:52PM
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LOL - Albert, are you suggesting she torch her house and hope they pin it on the neighbors?

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 3:52PM
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I'd get out of there as soon as possible. If you have the ability to do it, I wouldn't even care if I left the house vacant. I don't think I would install security cameras - that only broadcasts to potential buyers that you have security problems. Its unfortunate that you weren't clued in to how bad the neighborhood was BEFORE you bought, but I guess you'll be more careful next time.

Neighborhoods like that usually only get worse, so it's better off to move. But occasionally it surprises you, the bad people move out (they get arrested, drug overdoses, eviction, etc) and good people move in. So you never know.

Oh and Albert - sorry - I forgot she said the neighbor kid had already set some fires near her garage. I thought you were hatching an evil plan on how to get rid of the house fast! Sorry I misunderstood.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 4:05PM
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It is not the term which is bothersome. It is using the term like this "mentally challenged/weed smoking/drinking/thieving 32 yo son." In stringing it together with characteristics most would consider negative, the OP implies it is also negative.

The OP's second response confirms that she does not see what is negative. What does knowing the mental abilities of the neighbor add to her dilemma? Her addition of this information is similar to attitudes of past times when those with mental disabilities were locked away as they were perceived as dangerous, etc.

As for hypersensitivity-Not true, but I call them as I see them. If it causes a single person to reconsider his or her attitudes, than it is worth it to me.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 6:49PM
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rrah - sorry, but I think you're making a mountain out of a molehill. And let me apologize in advance if I just insulted any moles out there who ARE capable of building a mountain. Haha! You'll have to excuse me - I do have a strange sense of humor.

When bobble was describing her drug-addict neighbors as being "mentally challenged", I (and I think everyone else) knew exactly what she meant. Any "normal" intelligent person knows to stay away from drugs, right? So if you are a druggie, it is understood you are indeed mentally challenged. When this term popped up, not for one minute did I think she was insulting the "real" mentally challenged.

And while we are on this subject - why is it REALLY so insulting to call someone "retarded"? I always thought that was the real medical term. I even looked it up: "slow or limited in intellectual or emotional development or academic progress". OK, so what's so wrong with that? I mean, I don't go around calling people "retards", because that indeed IS rude. But if I see someone who actually is mentally challenged, I may call them mentally retarded and think nothing of it. I am really sick of all the extreme political correctness this society has fallen into. It has created a lot of over-sensitive people, and the tiniest little mistake, and people want to start a war over it.

Hey, I am not very good with algebra (among other things), so I am also considered "mentally challenged" by some people - and I could really care less what they think anyway.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 9:00PM
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Why people are not allowed to perceive "mental challenged" as dangerous? It could be a fact since their decision making process is not as comprehensive as none mental challenged, therefore they could behave differently to the point that may harm themselves or others.

You are hypersensitive, it seems because you are a relative of a mentally challenged individual, each time people use the words "mentally challenged", you hear a "derogatory" tone.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 3:37AM
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rrah: As I stated to you earlier, I am DESCRIBING the person factually. If YOU take it to be negative, then it is your perception, nothing more. I never spoke derogatorily, I stated the facts. And if I included that this person is mentally challenged, I think that is significant because his reasoning ability/thought process is impaired, coupled with a conduct/personality disorder, which makes dealing with that person as a neighbor quite difficult, if not impossible.

I asked this forum for help with MY stressful situation, but if you need further help with support surrounding/regarding your relative, I am hoping you can find an appropriate forum for that where you can find support to deal with your own situation.

I am sorry, I can't address your situation or feeling surrounding your perceptions on this thread any further, thanks for understanding.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 9:18AM
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"If it causes a single person to reconsider his or her attitudes, than it is worth it to me. "

Stiffing actual discussion is a hallmark of Balkanization.


    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 11:34AM
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It reminds me of when our university newspaper briefly had a policy of not saying "white, black, light complexioned or dark complexioned, Caucasian, African American, Hispanic or Asian" in the descriptors of the suspects in their campus crime reports. The only thing they didn't leave out was "male,female".

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 7:12PM
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You poor thing. You do need to move. But keep your head about it. I was in a similar situation, only worse. The stress was so bad, I'm surprised I'm still alive. Just to be clear, it was not the last house I sold, but the one before that. You can do a search for "Neighbors from hell"--I'm sure I shared the story. But long story short, it involved me getting assaulted with a hammer, robbery, the poisoning of my dogs, vandalism, harassment, guns, fires... Oh, I could go on and on.

Sometimes, no matter how careful you are, you can't tell that you are buying next door to the neighbors from hell. I actually purchased that house FROM the neighbors from hell; they were my only neighbors; and at first I thought we were going to be great friends. I liked them! That lasted about a month before they started in on me because the woman was... can I say "psycho?"

Anyway, I loved the house and endured all that for two years until the assault and the poisoning of the dogs and then I wished I would have left when I was first considering it, about a year into it. But how was I going to sell that place when the market crashed and without the neighbors knowing because they would have sabotaged the deal? As it was, they were piling up junk on their land (this was in the country) to annoy me because I'm a clean freak and then setting it on fire to scare me. Cinders would float over to my 100-year-old wooden farmhouse. Every day the pile was getting higher and higher. Not only was it dangerous, but it was a real eyesore--truck tires, tractor parts, animal cages, household trash. I knew I had to get out of there lickity split before it got worse and I couldn't GIVE the house away.

I priced it right. Luckily I didn't owe more than it was worth and I priced it to sell. I had to think, was my sanity, or maybe even my life, worth X amount of dollars? That was crucial.

I did NOT put a for-sale sign on the lawn. I didn't even put advertisements in any of the local publications (I was a FSBO) because I was afraid the Evils (that's what they were known as) would see it and find out I was selling. I leaned my for-sale sign against the house in the back yard so that when potential buyers came around, I pretended like I was getting ready to put it up. I also scheduled my buyers to look at the house when I knew the Evils would be unlikely to be around because whenever I had company, they'd start yelling things--obscenities, etc.

I felt bad for a long time selling that house to the buyers but in my defense, it was priced to sell and they got a deal. (It sold in about two months to maybe the fifth person who looked at it.) Also, they were meant to be there. They were instrumental in getting the Evils arrested and the Evils' house eventually went into foreclosure and my buyers are very happy there. We've become friends and we talk about the Evils often and enjoy sharing the stuff we hear about them through the grapevine. Lots of karma going on.

So get out of there. Price it right. Don't put up a for-sale sign. And in the meantime, keep your enemy close. Try to get along with those neighbors. In fact, if I was you, I'd try to befriend them. You don't want them to know you're selling. They will know why and it will get them mad at you and make things worse. Later, if they find out, by that time you will be friends and you can make up some sad excuse about a death in the family or something. You have to do what you have to do to save your sanity and get out of there.

Personally, I don't rent. I just go and buy another one because I have a child in school and I can't keep changing her schools, plus I have horses. I always ask for some time after closing before I have to move out. I buy the next one "contingent upon the successful closing" of the one I'm selling. It's hairy but I'd rather do it that way then move another time. The worst part about doing it this way is if you find a house you want to get and then the buyer of the house you're selling can't get a mortgage. It's very hard getting mortgages nowadays and the last house I sold, I think I lost three people I was in contract with because the banks rejected them--one of them two days before closing.

I hope this was helpful. Very long. I guess I am making up for lost time because I haven't been on here a while--busy fixing up my new place.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 12:18AM
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Do you move? Absolutely. I was in the same position, roughly 15 years ago, I had neighbors from you-know where.

I suspected they were into crime, and was right. The neighbor "was gone for a few months" just like yours. Later, I found that he was in jail, on weapons posession charges. Another source told me that the family was involved with organized crime, though I never verified that.

Living in my previous house was horrible, to say the least.
I couldn't stand to turn onto my street, on the way home.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 7:22AM
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Luckily for me the last twit that was a neighbor was only renting.

I loved a fallen tree that was blocking her driveway after a particulalry vicious thunderstorm on night.

"My husband is an important man, and the tree that fell from your yard is blocking my driveway."

At about 5:00 AM on the phone.

Virginia is like many other states, SHE is responsible for the tree removal on HER land & driveway.

I went out, looked at the tree, saw her yelling, told her good luck with cutting up her portion, then went back in to some breakfast.

She even called the county police who looked at the tree, saw it was not blocking a sidewalk or street, and then told her to call a tree removal service (I listened from my back yard).

She sputtered at the cop about "no service" and stomped back inside.

That eveneing when I did remove the portionon my yard and measure to fix my damaged fence, she was out again now complaining she could not find anyone who could come for the better part of a week.

I cut up my portion with my chain saw (Bradford pear is solid stuff inside) and saved a few pieces to use for small items (and even gave another woodworker down the street about a four foot length around 11 inches in diameter).

The was out again when I decided to take the rest of the tree down (45 years old already split Bradford pears are not going to last much longer) that I was taking down a "county tree."

The state of Virginia owns almost all roads in the state rarely the counties, and the tree was 4 feet inside my yard from the sidewalk.
Not a 'parkway strip' tree that might be state owned.

They had also dumped leaves that autumn on the street.
We do not have leaf vacuuming in our area (few areas in the county want to create the 'special tax district' to pay for the service) so they need to be bagged for the trash leaf pickup.

The new neighbors are pleasant and we have had them over for cookouts a couple times now.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 10:31AM
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I am so sorry to hear about your problems with your neighbors. I am also in between two difficult neighbors. I took one of them to court for nuisance, harassment, and threatening an animal. The other side I reported to Building and Safety. It's helped a lot. It's been a long haul. I tried to sell my house twice, and couldn't. Karma seems to be catching up with them. They sent a tatoo'd drug dealer over to try and scare me. He would bounce a ball outside my bedroom window at 11:30 at night. Then he would blare music and accelerate his car. I started talking to him and flattering him. Told him that maybe he could become a professional seemed to work. I've also met some other neighbors who are nice and told them what was happening. We have a terrible drug problem here. I got a German shepherd and she really guards the territory. It helps a lot. They are afraid of her. The worst guy and his wife both have cancer now. I feel like they are self destructing. I hope things get better for you.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 8:48PM
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Now sell the house, re-start a new life

Here is a link that might be useful: Flower Fields Way, Carlsbad, CA

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 6:05AM
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