It can be frustrating to deal with a neighbor's dilapidated property. There are many parameters that must be taken into consideration and you must focus on the actions you are taking and be careful in your approach.
Method 1 of 4: Approach your neighbor
Step 1. Have a face to face conversation
Sometimes people are just not aware that there is a problem, so don't assume your neighbor views the situation as awkward. If you think something should be done, you should schedule a meeting to share your concerns with him. He may resolve the problem promptly after listening to you.
- Before you meet him for a face-to-face discussion, you should assess whether this is a better way to proceed. Not all neighbors are sociable and sometimes having a face-to-face conversation is not safe. It could even be dangerous. It is especially unwise to appear in someone's house uninvited. You can decide to handle the situation anonymously to avoid any physical damage or any kind of retaliation.
- If you do decide to go about it through a meeting, be prepared to say exactly what is wrong and provide a reasonable amount of time within which you think the matter should be resolved. You could put it this way: “I've always liked you as a neighbor, but I'm concerned about the current state of your house” and “I think in 30 days you can fix it. What do you think ? "
- There is an old saying that goes: “good fences make good neighbors”. If you'd rather avoid interacting with your neighbor about this situation and others to come, consider putting up a fence that prevents you from having a view of their property. Not having to look at his unsanitary house could solve the problem from your point of view and also keep the peace.
- If the neighbors are tenants, contact the owner directly. You can get information on the latter by going to the local authorities in your area or by calling the cadastre and topography administration (ACT).
Step 2. Discuss the financial impact
If you are intending to sell your home, then this is the perfect opportunity to report the emergency, while stressing that the issue could affect the value of your property. You might be able to remind your neighbor that this issue also affects the value of their home, which may provide financial incentives for them to resolve the issue.
Consider telling him that you want potential buyers to know that he is a good neighbor, and then offer to help speed up the problem so that it does not affect the sale of your property. It could literally come down to helping them clear the piled up debris
Step 3. Avoid a confrontation
When talking to someone about a sensitive topic, it's important to be polite to avoid making the situation worse. It is possible to deal with a sensitive subject without appearing aggressive or malicious. Gentleness is usually the best way to go.
- Prepare to counterattack and resign yourself to remaining diplomatic and calm even if your neighbor flares up.
- If the situation escalates, leave and consider coming back to discuss it at a later date.
- Having a good relationship even before a problem arises helps to resolve it. A cordial greeting given every morning for months can make a big difference.
Step 4. Avoid inflammatory language
Do not use accusatory or irreverent language. For example, using phrases like “awful” or “disgusting” can shock your neighbor and quickly make the situation worse.
Refrain from threatening your neighbor. Most people don't respond to threats nicely, so it's best to be respectful
Step 5. Respond instead of reacting
Before engaging in conversations with your neighbor, resolve to respond calmly. Reacting without thinking about the consequences could lead to a much worse outcome than necessary.
Method 2 of 4: Take stock
Step 1. Take notes
Keep track of what happened by taking brief notes, including dates, times and people involved.
Step 2. Take pictures
Take discreet photos of the unsanitary condition in which the property is vegetating. Being discreet can be helpful in avoiding an argument or altercation between you and your neighbor. It is very important not to break into its domain without authorization while you are trying to take stock of the situation.
Step 3. Make video recordings
If there is a particularly glaring event, you can record it as proof.
Whether it's taking photos or videos, you may find it beneficial to use your smartphone in subtle ways as it is often more easily accessible. Make sure all photos and videos are dated
Step 4. Make a list of other neighbors who have made the same observation
Identify other people who may have reported the problem or a similar situation in the past. Although it is strongly discouraged to gossip and create tension in the neighborhood by unnecessarily involving other neighbors, it is recommended that you identify those who could lend credit to your claims.
Step 5. Write letters
If you have had a face-to-face meeting with your neighbor, then send him a friendly letter to confirm and reiterate what you have discussed. You could send more as needed.
- If you plan to send a confirmation letter following your discussion with him, consider warning him so that he will expect it and not be caught off guard when you receive the letter.
- Make sure all letters are dated and duplicated for your records. You may be able to send the letters by certified mail to have an acknowledgment of receipt.
Method 3 of 4: Assess the situation
Step 1. Clarify your concerns
When trying to deal with the run down condition of your neighbor's property, it's important to put things in context before having a conversation or making any decision. Always keep in mind the importance of maintaining a good relationship with your neighbors, as long as it is up to you. While you are certainly able to handle the situation, you should not do anything that would unnecessarily create a hostile atmosphere or, worse, prevent you from properly enjoying the comfort of your own home.
Consider whether this is a recent issue that might be fixed soon, or if it is a long time ago. The situation could be due to a health concern your neighbor is facing that prevents him from reacting to the problem immediately. This is of utmost importance when you have elderly neighbors with reduced mobility
Step 2. Determine if your concerns are justified
Not everyone has the same concept of cleanliness and aesthetics. What seems unhealthy to you may be perfectly acceptable to others. Carefully examine the situation to determine if your concerns are really justified, and assess the risks and benefits of resolving the issue. You may find that the condition of your neighbor's house is already acceptable to allow you to leave the situation as it is in order to preserve the peace.
Step 3. Do your research
Obtain clarification on the issues in question as well as the planning laws and regulations in force in order to tackle the problem intelligently. Your neighbor's property may pose a safety risk or may be in violation of a sanitation law. A quick Google search will let you know.
It may be beneficial to seek out a cleaning company that offers affordable rates and can help with cleaning up your neighbor's property. While you are not expected to be able to afford the fees, your due diligence in coming up with a useful resource will be welcomed
Step 4. Discuss the problem with your spouse or a friend
Sometimes discussing a situation with someone else will help you determine whether it is necessary to take action. It might be beneficial to have a calm discussion with a sane person to make sure you're not overdoing it. Once you do something, it will be impossible for you to go back.
Method 4 of 4: Obtain assistance from the authorities
Step 1. Contact the condominium association
In France, there are condominium syndicates, owners' associations (ASP), free syndical associations (ASL) or even free urban land associations (AFUL) which could act as mediators for the resolution of neighborhood problems. If you've already spoken with your neighbor, but the problem is not resolved, consider contacting one of these associations to let them know your concerns and forward them the evidence you have gathered.
If you decide to handle the situation anonymously, contact the condominium association before chatting with your neighbor and ask to remain anonymous
Step 2. Identify local or municipal authorities
There are authorities empowered to help neighbors in resolving their dispute. Although problematic, your situation is far from unique and many homeowners have experienced the same problem. Local or municipal authorities can help you resolve it more quickly. Start by contacting the town hall.
You must be aware of what the local regulations provide to be a little clearer of the procedures in force in your jurisdiction. Apart from the condominium association, the various union associations and the town hall, the fire brigade and the police station can also help you, but it depends on the nature of your problem
Step 3. Find a mediator
If you do not have a condominium association or a union association empowered to manage these issues in your area and the problem is getting worse, consider contacting a mediation service who will help you resolve the conflict without triggering legal proceedings. A mediator is a third person who can help establish dialogue until the problem is resolved.
Step 4. Monitor the situation closely until it is resolved
You have to admit that this is an issue that might take a bit more time and effort to resolve completely. Before you begin, you should understand that raising the issue with your neighbor can create a conflict that could last for years. Prepare to initiate the process and come to terms with him as needed.
Some homeowners came to the conclusion that this type of problem was so unsettling that they instead chose to sell their homes (even though they had no intention of doing so) and move on with their lives. While this may be the last resort, you might think about it, but it will all depend on the complexity of the situation as well as your ability and willingness to relocate
Step 5. Consider going to court
You may not want to contact a lawyer until you have frankly tried to resolve the issue out of court, but there are times when the situation is so serious that you might need to hire a lawyer.
- If your neighbor is a tenant, there might be terms in their rental agreement that require a reasonable standard of cleanliness. Contact its owner and discuss the situation with him. You can get the latter's contact details by asking the local authorities or by calling the Cadastre and Topography Administration (ACT). You can also use an online service to do this, but expect to take out a few euros.
- Another way to stay anonymous is to send your report through your city councilor's office. The latter can forward the complaint without giving your name.
- In many cities, there are laws that help homeowners deal with such situations. You can file an anonymous report with the police, which may receive attention if there have been other such complaints.
- In each municipality and city, there is a fixed maximum number of pets that the owner can have. You can contact the SPA (Society for the Protection of Animals) or the local television station to report a case of animal abuse.
- In Belgium, the competent local authority is the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals. It can make the necessary arrangements to settle the matter.
- If after contacting your neighbor his response is negative, you will no longer be able to file an anonymous complaint. If someone else does, you could be held responsible. If you have the kind of neighbor who needs pressure from local authorities to keep their house clean, don't upset them. Sometimes, to keep the peace in the neighborhood, you just have to resort to anonymity.
- If the local authority cannot resolve the issue amicably, they may decide to send your neighbor a notice to clean their unsanitary property. If he does not comply with this notification, he could be prosecuted and paid a fine, but that depends on the jurisdiction.
- If you live in an apartment, consider incorporating a contact film in your windows. While doing this, you will still be able to benefit from the sunlight, but will not have to see the dirtiness of the neighborhood.
- There is a difference between "antisocial" neighbors and "unsociable" neighbors. Antisocials could be dangerous if you provoke them. If possible, assess your neighbor's temperament before discussing the condition of their property with them. If you think it might be dangerous, work with local authorities to provide some protection for you and your other neighbors.
- It is usually better to have a good relationship with your neighbor than to force them to keep their property as clean as you want them to be. A neighborhood conflict could create more serious problems. It's always better to create an environment where you stick together and keep the peace as much as possible.