Can I Sue My Realtor for Not Telling Me About an Abusive Neighbor?

Newsweek – “Ask the Experts”

By Maria Azzurra Volpe On 10/7/23 at 7:00 AM EDT

Dear Newsweek,

I live in Southern Oregon and I have a neighbor with a small house and small backyard and 15 full-grown male huskies. He is not directly behind me but we share a corner.

Some background. Until August 27 last year, I was a surgical technician and owned two small businesses in Northern California. I have two sons, one of whom I have conservatorship over. He is 24 years old with high-functioning cognitive disabilities and lives with me. I am single and have been for many years. I ran my businesses while working full-time to provide for my family.

Everything changed on August 27, 2022. While out riding ATVs in the mountains of Northern California in an area called Dutch Flat with my younger son, who is 22, I took a turn way too fast and was thrown into a large cedar tree. I only weigh 100 pounds. My body wrapped itself around the tree and my life flashed before my eyes.

I was knocked unconscious and awoke to the sound of my panicked son’s voice. After a few minutes, I sat up and thought “holy cow I’m alive!” I knew I did have some damage but little did I know how much. I spent the next 6 1/2 days in the trauma ICU. I had fractured eight ribs, and punctured my lung. I’d also broken my pelvis on both sides, broken my lower back, and had a bad concussion, internal bleeding among all the scrapes and bruises.

After six months, I realized I would not be able to go back to work or my businesses, which meant I could no longer afford to live in California. Since travel was painful, we set out to find a house via virtual tours with a realtor in an area we wanted to move to.

After being outbid on home after home, we found a house in a good neighborhood that had been on the market for 141 days. We made a low offer knowing that it must need work. We had the house inspected and it turned out pretty decent.

We arrived at the home in April of this year to immediately find out why this house had been on the market so long. Something that the inspector and our realtor failed to mention. We went into the backyard and were instantly met at the corner of the fence with 10-12 barking and growling huskies. Even our Great Dane ran back to the house.

Fast forward to now. We never get to sleep through a night because of the howling and barking, which is affecting my recovery. It’s constant throughout the day. But the worst thing of all, the owner will not pick up the feces of the dogs. His backyard is all dirt and slopes downhill towards mine and my neighbor directly behind him, so needless to say the poop runs downhill. If you can imagine the amount of urine and feces produced by 15 huskies, it’s bad!

Both my son’s bedroom and mine face the backyard. We are unable to open the windows due to the smell. And the flies are in the thousands, making it impossible to sit on our backyard patio. After inquiring with the other neighbors, there have been many complaints but nothing has been done. I’m a pretty feisty person, and because the market was so hot, we paid a pretty penny for this house and I wasn’t having it. We confronted the neighbor with the complaints and in a very vocal and obscene way he told us to mind our own business. So all of us neighbors on every side of him called animal control and tried to get the ball rolling, thinking that if everybody complained, maybe something would be done. It had been months, and nothing had changed.

But we began to notice that he hits and kicks the dogs, and they do not look healthy. So I went upstairs and started filming from the window. I collected hours and hours of video and took it in. And finally, we are getting results. It turns out he has never licensed or vaccinated any of the dogs. He has been kicked out of two rental places for the same reason and has incurred thousands of dollars in fines. He thought by buying the home he currently lives in he would go unnoticed. The dogs are still there, but the county is working on having them removed and rehomed. Some of the neighbors are complaining that property values have been affected and are talking lawsuit. So I guess that’s something and the dogs will go to better homes.

Karen, Southern Oregon

When You Catch The Offending Neighbor in The Act, Do Not Hesitate to Call The Police

Featured Expert:
Andrew A. Zashin is the managing partner of Zashin & Rich, where he leads the firm’s family law and international family law practice groups. He has represented parties in some of the rare family law cases heard by the Supreme Court.

I am sorry to learn of your circumstances. The neighbor in question has created intolerable conditions for you, and all of those who live near you. This situation must come to an end, not just for the people in your neighborhood, but also for the dogs in his possession. These animals would be better off as “rescues” and both the dogs and humans in the area would be happier and healthier if this particular neighbor would change his or her ways. So, what should you do?

It seems you have already taken some proactive and productive steps. Specifically, you have organized your neighbors. You have confronted the bad neighbor about the environmental conditions they are responsible for creating. Sadly, this has not been enough.

But it is a first and necessary step. If the neighbor in question is a tenant, I would raise the stakes by speaking to their landlord. It is the landlord’s responsibility to make sure that their tenant is not a community nuisance. Second, you have not only physical proof, that is, the surroundings, but also documentary evidence, and videos you can take to court that prove the unnecessary cruelty meted out to dogs in this neighbor’s possession. This was a smart move.

You should also document the noise, both at night and during the day. Most communities have ordinances regulating the amount of noise permitted and when it is permitted. Noise pollution, like other kinds of environmental pollution, affects the quality of people’s lives. It is something that local governments should, can, and will regulate. Further, when you catch the offending neighbor in the act, do not hesitate to call the police. Most probably the police will make it the dog owner’s job to control his pets.

Third, you have learned that beyond the neighbor’s mistreatment of the dogs, he has not vaccinated his pets, which creates a hazard to others in the neighborhood. This has brought forth a county investigation. One hopes that the country will act to remove the dogs from this negligent owner immediately.

Finally, you mention “lawsuits.” I think you and the neighbors would be well advised to hire a lawyer and pursue several causes of action against this neighbor. Specifically, the diminution of your respective property values comes to mind as a perfect case for damages. Pursuing damages, collectively, for the lost value of your properties is the kind of incentive that often changes people’s bad behavior.

This article originally appeared on Newsweek – “Ask the Experts.”

2023-11-10T13:38:03-05:00October 7th, 2023|Neighbor Disputes|

My Neighbors Are Throwing Dog Poop In My Yard

Newsweek – “Ask the Experts”

By Lucy Notarantonio On 8/13/23 at 6:00 AM EDT

Dear Newsweek,

I’m 73 years old and I live alone. I have owned the property for 34 years and 11 years ago, my neighbors from hell moved next door. They are in their 40s.

For for the first eight years, at least three or four times a week, I would have 10 to 30 or more kids in my front, side and backyards with the parents outside. They would be having parties and blocking my driveway at all hours of the day and night.

The dad used to walk through my backyard when he pleased so I rang his wife to complain. I have also called the police on a regular basis but that never did any good.

The police would talk to them but as soon as the officer would leave, they’d go right back into my yard. The kids would get bats and start hitting rocks and golf balls at my house. Then they would get mad because I called the police.

The most recent incident occurred a few months back, I was working in my yard and found a lot of dog poop. I had seen the man shoveling dog poop in his yard the night before. I called the police and they told the police that my property line is wrong and that is their property and they can do what they want.

I even took my property survey to the police to prove my property line is where I said. They rent the property so they should have spoken with the landlord about the property line instead of being so mean and evil.

So finally after 11 years they get a citation and I built a privacy fence on their side only because at this time I can’t afford to fence all of my property. But the fence is extended almost all the way to front of my house, about 15 feet away from the curb.

Next time they decide to be a Karen, harass me, bully me or cause me any more mental stress we will be in court. After 11 years of hell it was time to get the owner of the property involved and I only communicate with him. I feel that at my age and with my health, I don’t need this kind of treatment and I need to find a way to legally deal with these people.


Get a Lawyer and Gather Concrete Evidence

Featured Expert:
Andrew A. Zashin is the managing partner of Zashin & Rich where he leads the firm’s family law and international family law practice groups. He has represented parties in some of the rare family law cases heard by the Supreme Court.

Dear Reader,

I am sorry to learn of your situation. Sadly, what you are experiencing is more common than you might imagine. Unfortunately, the steps you have taken to appease your “neighbors from hell” have proven fruitless. I will suggest some additional actions.

First, document everything that happens in real time. If you see your neighbors shoveling dog feces into your yard, take a video of it. Take pictures. Telling anyone about what happened later is one thing. Proving what they did, capturing the offending parties in the act, with verifiable details of where and when—documenting the time and place with background or audio by calling out to them on video—is an entirely different matter altogether. Then, armed with this evidence, go to the police supervisor. It will be much harder to ignore a complaining citizen with concrete documentation.

Second, get a lawyer. Dealing with a matter like this should not be expensive. The cost, however, seems insignificant compared to the misery these neighbors are causing you. A simple letter from a lawyer manifesting your seriousness to neighbors, the police, and the landlord, may resolve the matter. Such a letter, putting the responsibility on the landlord to control his tenants, will take the burden off your shoulders and put that burden on the landlord, where it belongs. The landlord is the person, after all, who allowed these tenants to rent his or her property and behave like this in the first place.

Finally, your lawyer, armed with the video and photographic evidence you have already collected, is in a better position to file a lawsuit if necessary. It is realistic that your lawyer, either through negation or litigation, can recover your legal fees and expenses from the landlord. I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck.

This article originally appeared on Newsweek – “Ask the Experts.”

2023-11-10T13:38:03-05:00August 13th, 2023|Harassment, Neighbor Disputes|

I Sued My Neighbors, Now They Are Harassing Me—What Should I Do?

Newsweek – “Ask the Experts”

By Maria Azzurra Volpe On 5/21/23 at 6:00 AM EDT

Dear Newsweek,

I have neighbors who were new six-and-a-half years ago. From the very first day they were here, they began harassing me and trying to run me off of my property. I am 58 years old, disabled, and on a fixed income.

After three years of continuous harassment, including directing a high-intensity spotlight into my home for 584 days and nights, I was forced to file a lawsuit, pro se. After Covid and all the usual delays, we were to have a trial in October of 2022.

I was on my own against four grown bullies with good jobs and their attorney, so we settled before the trial and they paid me $2,000. They are not supposed to harass me anymore, but in the meantime, they installed two flag poles next to the property line and the flag clips make a harsh, annoying metal-on-metal banging noise.

It doesn’t affect the neighbors because they are only here on the weekends. I have to listen to it all day long and cannot go in my yard at all without hearing it. I can even hear it in my house. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

The most amazing thing about this is that the two couples, the harassers, who own the property have very good jobs. One woman works for a children’s hospital as a database manager and her husband is a civilian employee at a U.S. Army arsenal. The second couple consists of an advanced-practice registered nurse, and her husband is a business owner.

I would love to know what I am supposed to do about this. They have no intention of letting me live in peace.

Jackie, Arkansas

Document Any Incidents of Harassment

Featured Expert:
Andrew Zashin is an adjunct professor at the School of Law, Case Western Reserve University, and a managing partner at the Zashin & Rich law firm.

Dear Jackie,

I am sorry to hear about your situation. It is unfortunate that you have had to endure such persistent harassment from your neighbors, and I understand how frustrated you must be with the ongoing noise from their flag poles. There are, however, a few things that you can do to address the situation and hopefully find some relief.

First, review the terms of the settlement agreement that you reached with your neighbors in court. If the agreement specifically prohibits them from engaging in any further harassment or disruptive behavior, you may be able to take legal action if they continue to cause problems.

Consider consulting with an attorney to discuss your options and determine if there are any legal avenues available to you. While this may end up being costly, it may be worth it if it brings you peace of mind.

Second, you should try speaking with your neighbors directly, or through an intermediary, and politely express your concerns about the noise from the flag poles. They may not know how disruptive it is for you, and they may be willing to make changes to reduce the noise or relocate the flag poles, especially if they are at risk of violating the agreement that you reached in court. From duct tape to foam or rubber-covered flag clips, there appears to be many cost-effective, noise-reducing solutions for loud flag clips. They may be willing to purchase the same if it means not having to go back to court.

Next, you could consider mediation with your neighbors. A neutral third party can help facilitate a conversation to address the issue and find a solution that works for both parties.

If speaking with your neighbors directly or through a third party does not resolve the issue, you may need to consider taking more drastic action. This could include filing a complaint with your local government or homeowners association, or even seeking a restraining order in court if you continue to feel threatened or unsafe.
In any case, it is important to document any incidents of harassment or disruptive behavior from your neighbors and keep track of any communication or attempts at resolution.

Keep a record of the times and duration of the noise from the flag poles, as well as any other incidents that occur. You could also consider recording the noise with your phone, or another recording device, to use as evidence. This can help strengthen your case if legal action becomes necessary.

This article originally appeared on Newsweek – “Ask the Experts.”

2023-11-10T13:38:03-05:00May 21st, 2023|Harassment, Neighbor Disputes|
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