There’s a famous old saying that Robert Frost once used as the basis for a narrative poem that good fences make good neighbors. In Frost’s poem, he implies that fences don’t necessarily impact a neighborly relationship, but it doesn’t take a social scientist to understand why boundaries and barriers benefit people who live in close proximity to one another.
Whether you live in a condo that shares a wall with someone else or you have a stand-alone home, the people who live close to you can directly impact both the property value of your home and the quality of your life. When your neighbor becomes a nuisance, it may be time to sit down with a Pennsylvania real estate attorney to talk about your rights as a homeowner.
You have the right to the quiet enjoyment of your property
Property rights are some of the most misunderstood rights in the United States. Some people think that owning a property means they have the right to do anything they want on that property. That is true, provided that individuals do not break state, federal or local laws and do not impact their neighbors’ lives negatively through their actions.
For example, a neighbor who routinely violates noise ordinances by throwing loud parties or getting into fights with their children or intimate partner late at night can impact your sleep and therefore your health and job. A neighbor who fails to maintain their property can create an eyesore that reduces the value of your home, while a neighbor with an aggressive dog and an inadequate fence could keep you from feeling safe when you go out into your own yard.
Not every annoyance is a legal violation, although sometimes just having your attorney send a letter to a neighbor about an abusive or annoying behavior can help inspire them to change their ways. Generally, for you to take legal action, you need to show that the situation is offensive, seriously annoying or intolerable, constituting significant harm.
Be prepared to follow through with legal action
The sad truth is that people who are so inconsiderate that they don’t wonder how their decisions affect others will probably not even care if you advise them that their behavior is negative and disruptive. If, after speaking with an attorney, you believe that your neighbor’s behaviors or actions violate state law or your property rights, you may be able to file a civil suit.
Doing so will create an impetus for your neighbor to immediately stop their nuisance behavior. If they don’t, the courts may order them to stop and may even issue a financial penalty. Determining whether or not an annoying neighbor has broken the law isn’t easy. A Pennsylvania real estate lawyer can give you advice and provide options about how to address your obnoxious neighbor.