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Neighbor Nightmare--Need Advice

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#1 of 87 OFFLINE   Carl Miller

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Posted June 15 2002 - 03:50 PM

I'm new to our neighborhood, just moved in a few months ago. Unfortunately, I've got a troublesome neighbor to one side and I could use some advice. I'll try to keep the situation short as possible. Problem started when they knocked on our door last month and asked if we'd remove the tree that is in our front yard, but hangs over their property. The tree drops nuts onto their cars, and the nuts leave stains. I like the tree, it's one of the few left on the block at all, the guy has another driveway he doesn't use for reasons he just won't explain (the one he uses isn't the original, it's an add-on) and frankly, it gives us some sense of seperation blocking the view of his teenaged sons and absorbing some of the constant basketball bouncing that thumps 3 or 4 hours a day. Speaking of thumping, the sons, both in high school, live in what used to be rented as an illegal apartment on the side of house that faces our side. They have seperate everything from the rest of their house, pretty much go unsupervised (drinking, parties and noise well into the early a.m. hours on weekends) and worst of all, blast their pretty powerful stereo every day the moment they get home from school and most all the weekend. Its loud enough so that it actually sounds like it's being played in my house. We've asked the kids to turn it down, which they do, but only for 10-15 minutes before the volume goes up again. The parents are often home when their stereo cranks, and I really have no idea how they tolerate it. Needless to say, when I've spoken to the parents, they're unwilling to do anything because of, I think, the tree. Then we have the garbage, which is piled up on the side of their house. Lots and lots of garbage, open pails, assorted junk and such. It smells, looks bad and I've spotted a couple of mice popping in and out of their garbage area already. And now, back to the kids. They constantly ride their bikes across our lawn to save a few feet. No big deal, except they managed to ride over and bust one of our sprinkler heads, twice in the past 3 weeks. The father, of coure, said I had no proof they were responsible and refused to compensate me for one (I let the first one go)of them. Of course I have proof the sprinkler head was broken by their kids, the bike tracks across our lawn run right over the head. And finally, to top it off, a neighbor told me of "the tree incident" with the prior owner of our house...Seems the tree has been an issue for years with this guy, so much so that he once attempted to poison the tree with deck sealant, and the tree was in fact repaired by a professional...which answered one of my initial questions to the realtor which was "why does the tree have a big black seal"? Turns out the repair guy did it to repair the damage caused by the sealant. To sum up, the last tree discussion we had with them is that I offered to clean their driveway once the nuts started to fall. I told him I'd wash off the stains, and clear the nuts off his property. He in turn offered to pay for the tree removal. I told him he had whole other driveway he could use, and he said he was entitled to use whichever one he chooses. I don't want to complain all the time to them or their kids, but this is ridiculous. No way I'm going to spend my entire summer listening to their kids music from 5:30 when I get home until 10:00 on weekdays and for about 8-10 hours each day on weekends. Even if I used the tree as a bargaining tool to get him to quell their kids music, there's no way he'd live up to such an agreement based on what I've gotten from this guy so far, which is a total lack of willingness to compromise about anything. So, what to do? Any advice on how to go about handling this mess? I've actually been tempted to point my stereo speakers and sub out the window facing their house and give them a nice little taste of what it feels like. But, tempting as it may be to rattle their windows, I just don't want to put the other neighbors through that and refuse to sink to that level.

#2 of 87 OFFLINE   Jeff Kleist

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Posted June 15 2002 - 04:21 PM

Tear gas in the apartment would work Posted Image

Tell him that you'll trim the tree if he can promise you peace.

#3 of 87 OFFLINE   Ken Wagner

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Posted June 15 2002 - 04:22 PM

Carl buddy, have you stepped into it or what? Let me start by saying I'm no lawyer and anything I might say here is not to be construed as legal advice. Now, since this seems to have been going on since the last owner, I wonder if you may have some recourse against the previous owner. Kind of like them not telling you about a termite problem when they sold to you. A lawyer could probably give you this advice if it is applicable. Next, please don't make any promises to clean or remove anything. If you do this guy will most likely use it against you later. The trash could be a health department issue. I'm sure the city has an ordinance about trash containment. Same for the noise the kids are making. There usually is an ordinance about nuisance noise or hours that loud music must be turned down. Lots of cities are passing laws to make loud car music a minor violation. As far as them riding bikes across your lawn and breaking the sprinklers, use a video camera to tape them in the act. Dad can't refute taped evidence. From what you've said this guy wants everything his way. Chop the tree down to make me happy but I can use any driveway I want. He sounds as spoiled as his kids. What kind of parent lets their teenage boys live by themselves? If I were you I'd try to get my money back from the owner or sell the house as soon as possible. Sorry to say but you'll never get along with this guy, EVER!!! To quote a line in The Holy Grail, Run Away, Run Away!!
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#4 of 87 OFFLINE   Sean Conklin

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Posted June 15 2002 - 07:49 PM

I think I would take the Ozzy Osbourne approach, and chuck wood chunks and Ham at the house!

#5 of 87 OFFLINE   Scott Weinberg

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Posted June 15 2002 - 09:40 PM

Can you trim the branches so that nothing is directly over his property? That way you can keep your 'foliage barrier' and he'll have no legitimate gripes. And then you can start bitching at HIM for being such a rude and discourteous neighbor. Then kick him in the balls.

#6 of 87 OFFLINE   Brad_V


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Posted June 15 2002 - 09:43 PM

If the tree limbs are over his property, he can legally cut them down if he wanted. It's tough to say without seeing the actual items, but I'd think at least a tree trimming is in order. *Your* tree IS dumping crap on *his* property, after all. It's his driveway, so he should be able to use it if he wants without fear of your tree dropping crap on his car and driveway. The stuff with the kids is secondary and should be addressed separately, I would think. Maybe he'll be more inclined to help you out if you help him out. And if he doesn't get nicer after you do the tree, then you give up on him and just start calling the police for the kids' noise, etc.

#7 of 87 OFFLINE   Paul_D



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Posted June 15 2002 - 09:59 PM

[quote] Can you trim the branches so that nothing is directly over his property? [quote]
That's the first thing that popped into my mind as I read your post. Don't give him any amunition. That way, if you need to ask him for anything, he will have no other recourse but to acquiesse to your request.

Also, slightly off topic, be sure and avoid the trap of writing words in your post that you don't know how to spell, as I have done, as I believe it makes you look stupid. :b
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#8 of 87 OFFLINE   Carl Miller

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Posted June 16 2002 - 02:49 AM

Thanks guys! When we met this guy and talked tree for the first time, I told him he was free to trim it. His reply was that nearly 40% of the tree would have to be trimmed and that he'd have to call a professional in to do it in order to keep the tree healthy, and he didn't want the cost of that. When I told him I'd have it done, he replied that it was only a temporary fix that would leave him having to keep after me about the tree in the future. The bottom line is that he just wants the tree cut down, period. For whatever it's worth, I'll freely admit here and now that I haven't had the tree trimmed at all. My fault for sure, and I guess I should do it, but given everything else going on with this guy and his attitude, I'm not very inclined to do it. Technically speaking, he built that driveway under the tree on what used to be his front lawn. Same place the tree dropped nuts and stuff, only then it was just grass. In civil court, where this would go were he to ever sue me for damages, he'd probably lose. As far as ordinances go, I don't know if it's a legal driveway or not. The people across the street told me he built it himself 10-12 years ago. Moving is something I approached my wife about but she is dead set against selling. She thinks we'd never find an equivalent home on our budget, and she's probably right. I guess I'm going to have to start calling the cops about the music, though I hate to do that because it's going to invite other problems with those kids. Hopefully, the whole blasting music thing is just a phase that will pass. I don't know, the Ozzy approach sounds the most fun to me. My feeling is that even if I ended up cutting the tree down, I'd get nowhere on the other issues. The parents turn a blind eye to everything that goes on there and pretty much let their kids live unsupervised..Not a sign of a parent who gives a damn about what they're kids are doing with or without our tree being there. Maybe my wife will change her mind once school lets out and these kids are home all day, every day.

#9 of 87 OFFLINE   Francois Caron

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Posted June 16 2002 - 03:02 AM

Have you tried asking the police for some help in resolving these issues?

#10 of 87 OFFLINE   Bill_Weinreich


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Posted June 16 2002 - 03:24 AM

[quote] Have you tried asking the police for some help in resolving these issues? [quote]
Unfortunately, it's a cival issue and unless a law is being broken, the police will not get invloved about the resolution of the problems.

About the noise? Maybe a half dozen SVS's will drown it outPosted Image

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#11 of 87 OFFLINE   Jesse Leonard

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Posted June 16 2002 - 03:48 AM

[quote] Technically speaking, he built that driveway under the tree on what used to be his front lawn. Same place the tree dropped nuts and stuff, only then it was just grass. In civil court, where this would go were he to ever sue me for damages, he'd probably lose. [quote]

No, you would loose. The lenght of time that nuts have been falling on his property has nothing to do with it. The fact is, your tree is dropping stuff on his car.

If I were you, I would just trim the tree so nothing can fall on his property. Who cares if he wants the tree removed. Who cares if he feels that he will have to keep after you to keep it trimmed. Just keep it trimmed back and there is nothing he can do.

If the music annoys you and you feel as though you have asked him about it enough times, then call the cops. It seems like a shitty thing to do as a neighbor, but it doesn't seem like this guy is the neighborly type. Afterall, you should feel at home and peaceful in your own house.
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#12 of 87 OFFLINE   Jeremy Illingworth

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Posted June 16 2002 - 04:04 AM

I agree that you should trim your tree so it no longer hangs over his property. Then he should have nothing to complain about. I just did some pruning on my and my neighbour's trees and it wasn't very hard. As the the garbage and music I don't think you have any choice but to call the police/city and complain. Especially if the garbage is attracting rodents. jeremy These threads sure make me glad I have good neighbours. I'm considering getting to know the new neighbours at any potential house when I move before I commit to a house.

#13 of 87 OFFLINE   Jeff Ulmer

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Posted June 16 2002 - 04:46 AM

It is not your business to trim anything on his property, if he doesn't like it, he can pay to have it trimmed himself. If he put his driveway where he knew nuts would fall I'd say you have a case. If he continues to be an asshole, you might want to make a few calls to the health department for the garbage, and the permit departments about the driveway and side building. Two can play that game. I would also find out what the bylaws for noise are in your area, and if they violate them, call the police, and do so every time. If this ever did go to court, you would have grounds for harrasement. The fact that he tried to poison the tree (which is illegal - it's your tree, I'm not sure what law that falls under) shows he is not being neighborly. You should also talk to your realtor about possible actions against the former owner. Obviously this was a known issue. As for the sprinklerheads, I would somehow create an obstacle that protects them and takes away this driving lane. A blackberry bush is always a disincentive....

#14 of 87 OFFLINE   Alex-C



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Posted June 16 2002 - 05:36 AM

I certainly wouldnt enter any verbal agreements with a guy like that. What assurance do you have that he would keep up his end of any kind of bargain ? Unfortunately, the legal way is the best way to go. Only do what is legal about the music, garbage tree etc. I wouldnt do anything "as a favor" because he sounds pretty unreasonable and it will just eat at you when you have made amends and he hasnt. BTW, I just had a tree trimmed in a new house I moved into and we had to have about 40% of the tree trimmed. It was about $200 and there was no way I could have done what the professionals did. It was a fairly big tree, prob. about 40 feet high.
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#15 of 87 OFFLINE   Bill Catherall

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Posted June 16 2002 - 05:58 AM

[quote] It is not your business to trim anything on his property, if he doesn't like it, he can pay to have it trimmed himself. [quote] I hate to say it Jeff, but you're wrong about that one. When a tree that is on your property has branches that cross the property line, those branches are not the neighbor's responsibility. They are your responsibility to remove when he requests. Your property is infringing on his. He may - at any time, and without permission - cut them off up to the property line...regardless of what damage it causes the tree. It is his legal right...not obligation.

#16 of 87 OFFLINE   Carl Miller

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Posted June 16 2002 - 05:59 AM

I'm going to do the neighborly thing (grudgingly) and pay to have the tree trimmed professionally. But it's not coming down, not ever. After that, I'll discuss the music situation with him and put up some hedges to combat the bike path. Love the berry bush idea, but then the berries will drop on his driveway and we know where that will lead us. You guys are right, at least I'll be coming from the standpoint as having been cooperative when I do this. I'm sure he's going to be a moron about everything else though, but we'll deal with that as it comes. Just to clarify about this driveway. I realize it has nothing do with how long nuts have been falling. The point is that house has it's original driveway built on the other side of the property as is the pattern on the entire block. He knowingly built that additional driveway under that tree, and I doubt very much there would be any legal support for a claim that I have to accomodate him in this matter or be held liable for any damages. It wouldn't at all suprise me to find that the driveway itself is illegal, something I'm going to look into. As far as going back to the realtor or the seller, I'm pretty sure the quitclaim covers them both for this, but I'll check into that as well. This does seem like a good excuse for a home theater upgrade though...c'mon honey, we need more power so we can hear our movies over their stereo...

#17 of 87 OFFLINE   Sean Conklin

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Posted June 16 2002 - 06:19 AM

So no one likes the Ozzy approach? Posted Image

#18 of 87 OFFLINE   DennisHP


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Posted June 16 2002 - 06:44 AM

If it were me, I'd trim the tree and then build a fence as high as zoning regulations allows. Or, if that's not possible because of zoning regulations, plant a hedge which can grow as tall as it is destined to be and is not succeseptible to building codes. This would not only stop the bike traffic, but would also help allieviate the noise and the sight of the trash. Also, see if you can get other neighbors to help petition the noise. Peer pressure could work unless the guy just doesn't get it.

#19 of 87 OFFLINE   Inspector Hammer!

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Posted June 16 2002 - 06:45 AM

I do Sean, sounds like the guy could definatly use some form of "Ozzy Persuasion"! Posted Image

BTW, check your e-mail.
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#20 of 87 OFFLINE   Patrick_S



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Posted June 16 2002 - 07:05 AM

[quote] He may - at any time, and without permission - cut them off up to the property line...regardless of what damage it causes the tree. [quote] In the state of California if you recklessly trim a tree to the point where you damage it and the tree dies the owner can indeed seek damages. It happens all the time.

You can of course within reason trim the tree but if your trimming contributes to the tree's death again you can be held financially responsible.
I would have a pro trim the tree and after you trim it if it still drops items on his property, (who knows the wind could still blow the items over to his property) don't give it a second thought. By the way, never offer to clean up his property especially after you trim the tree. Cleaning his property is his responsibility, not yours.

Also, since he has been so willing to "go to the mattresses" a call to the city concerning the garbage, the noise and the potential illegal building are definitely in order.

Sadly you are going to have to be in this for the long haul. It is truly a game of attrition, do everything legally and slowly but surely thugs like this generally fade away.

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