Should I sue my neighbor? Help, my neighbor has sued me. These are statements all lawyers have heard. Usually the neighbor dispute involves an argument over a boundary and/or property line. These problems are very sensitive and have the possibility of costing a homeowner thousands of dollars in property value. For example, if your lot is 50 x 100 and your neighbor has built a fence that intrudes two feet onto your property and runs 100 feet, you have just lost 200 square feet of property. In the San Francisco Bay Area, that amount of property could easily add up to thousands of dollars.
Another common legal problem between neighbors involves noise. This is especially true with condominium owners, apartment tenants, and duplex tenants. Condominiums, apartments, and duplexes share a common wall. As such, noise travels through it far easier than housing lots.
The final common problem has to do with a neighbor constructing something that blocks your view. This usually occurs with an addition to a home or a landscape change, such a tree that blocks a view or sunlight.
So what can be done about neighbor boundary and/or property disputes, neighbor noise, and neighbor construction that blocks your view?
The first step is an informal discussion with your neighbor. It is possible that your neighbor might not even be aware of the problem and will gladly make changes upon your request. Believe it or not, this does happen. However, if you are reading this you have probably tried this solution to no avail.
Legal solutions to these problems can be quick and effective. The solution to each one of these problems is slightly different. Neighbor noise can be solved by requesting help from local law enforcement, property management or a home owners’ association. If these solutions do not work, talk to an attorney to find out if a civil law claim of nuisance can be applicable to your situation.
Solving boundary line disputes usually begins by hiring a qualified surveyor to inspect the property. Once your surveyor confirms your property lines have been breached, work with your attorney to file an injunction with your local Bay Area court. An injunction is simply a court order that requires someone to take action or not to take action. In this case, if the property line has already been breached, say for example, your neighbor built a fence on your land, the court can order it to be moved.
Finally, neighbor construction which blocks your right to a view or sunlight can be a bit trickier. There is no law that allows you the right to light and air. Unfortunately it is perfectly legal for your neighbor to construction something that blocks your light or fresh air. However, there is a growing trend in some states that allows exceptions for environmentally friendly energy use, such as solar panels. Additionally, local CC&R’s may also have exceptions. For this reason, it is important to discuss your case with an attorney before any action is taken.
To read more about potential solutions to neighbor problems click here.