3. Contact local government or an attorney
“If polite talk and offering to help doesn’t work, then it might be time to call your local town or city,” says John Graff, CEO of Ashby + Graff Real Estate. “Depending on the specific nature of the eyesore, your local government may be able to intervene. Try contacting your local city council member or try the building department.”
In fact, some municipalities, like Philadelphia, where Antonella Colella practices law, have a hotline dedicated just for this purpose. “If a property is unkempt on the outside, with tall grass, or trees that need to be trimmed or cut, for example, you can call a city number and a city official will inspect the property and issue citations.” Colella also points out some cities have nuisance ordinances that may be applicable to particularly sloppy neighbors. “If you have a home that is in disrepair or looks abandoned, you can file a nuisance complaint and have the city inspect as well.”
Tom Simeone, of Simeone & Miller in Washington, DC, notes that a nuisance in legal terms means that “the condition causes a negative effect on the neighbor’s land, by virtue of an odor, loud noise, rodents or loose running pets.”
“A nuisance is the use of land in a way that interferes with someone else’s use of their land,” says Simeone. “If reporting the conditions to the county or town government does not work, then it may be worthwhile to retain an attorney to write a letter requesting that the conditions creating the nuisance be stopped. If a letter does not work, a lawsuit can be considered, although that is expensive due to attorney fees and litigation costs.”
4. Obscure your view
If kind requests and involving the authorities just aren’t working, then you can get creative with landscaping to obscure your view of your neighbor’s home and yard. Fast-growing trees like Leyland Cypress and American Holly are low maintenance and are a way to both screen your view of the messy property and boost your own curb appeal. Though more costly, you can also put up a privacy fence that blocks your view.
If you’ve got a green thumb, try a living wall or a vertical vegetable garden.