How to Deal With the ‘Neighbor From Hell’

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey

A messy neighbor can hamper your property–by as much as 20 percent off the market value, says Sid Davis, author of A Survival Guide to Selling a Home (AMACOM, 2005), who is also a real estate broker.

No one wants to live next to the neighbor with the overgrown yard, broken stair railings, littered yard, and completely neglected property.

So what should you do if you find that your property is living next to the “neighbor from hell?”

A recent Universal Press Syndicate article by Ellen James Martin provides tips from Davis on how to resolve the problem amicably. 

  • Try to reason with the neighbors. Maintain a positive attitude when you approach them and don’t get a crowd of people to go with you, just you or one other person. You may find that they are willing to fix the problem.
  • Volunteer to do the work yourself. “This is not about fairness,” Davis says in the article. “This is about getting the dump next door cleaned up so you can sell your house for a decent price.”
  • File a formal complaint. You can do this with your neighborhood association or local government office. This should be done as a last resort. You and your neighbors may be referred to a mediator to attempt to resolve the issue, Davis says.

Just don’t ignore the problem, Davis says, because your potential buyers certainly won’t.

Read the full article >

Melissa Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine's award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

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  1. Anything you can do to improve the “curb appeal” of your home is worth a shot. I had a seller who approached their neighbor about the color of their fence and the next day the neighbor was out there painting the fence. You never know what neighbor will do until you speak to them. Great post!

  2. David Donnelly

    I had a property for sale with a neglected property that backed up to it.
    It had all the usual problems, but the worse thing was the 3 appliances on the back porch. Not having the skills to tactfully ask them to remove the appliances, I asked the owner if he wanted to sell the refrigerator, range, and dryer. He said $60 for all 3 so I bought them and had them hauled to the scrap yard.

  3. Working with a messy neighbor can help the whole neighborhood!!

  4. I listed a home and next door was a abandon house. I found a neighborhood kid mowing his lawn and offered him 10 a month to keep the lawn mowed. Gave him the $10.00 dollar. I sold the home and I only spent $30.00.