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Neighbors Archives

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Dear Mrs. Web,

I have recently moved into a townhouse. It is lovely except for my next door neighbors. They are a pair of lawyers who are savvy about staying within the letter of the law and pushing the townhouse associationís rules. They have annoying behaviors such as claiming unassigned parking spaces in such a way that puts the rest of us at a disadvantage. They drive their motorcycles off their patios, filling our homes with exhaust and noise, and leave on bright floodlights for nights on end, which lights up my window and is annoying.

The other neighbors have adjusted to this pairís limit bending. I seem to be the neighbor most affected by their behaviors. Is there anything I can do? I'm about ready to lose my mind, it just isnít fair.

Now you know why the condominium next to these people was empty. If the condominium association is not able to back you and your neighbors are technically with in the rules of the association, I donít think you have much of a leg to stand on. 

I would buy a room-blackening shade and attractive drapes for my bedroom to block the light and I would stop expecting these people to behave differently. They are arrogant and self centered and they will not change. So, donít get yourself wrapped up in waiting for them to change and expecting them to do the right thing. They wonít.

Wait until the property appreciates enough, then sell and move.



Dear Mrs. Web,

Yesterday my neighbor stopped by to tell me they are moving. We have been good neighbors but not extraordinarily close. They are moving to another state, her husband has been transferred. She asked me whether we would let her 17-year-old son live with us while he finished his last year of school here in our town. She also offered to pay room and board. We donít know these people well at all and are surprised to find them wanting us to care for their son. What should we do?

I donít know. Do you want a 17-year-old boarder? You are under no obligation with these people. You can say no; it just would not work for you family.



Dear Mrs. Web,

I have 2 dogs. They use our yard and I do clean it up 3 times a week. My next door neighbor wants me to clean up immediately after the dogs. I work full time and have two young children. I just canít do this every day. How often should I clean my yard? Would there be a law about this?

I think you need to call your local city hall or town office and find out what the local regulations are. Perhaps the zoning or pet licensing office would help. My impression is that on private property it is your call as long as you are not creating a health hazard. I imagine that would depend on the size and digestive systems of your dogs.

You are going to need to make a choice about what is more important, good neighbor relations or the more relaxed approach.


Dear Mrs. Web,

This past summer, our neighbors told us they would like to put up a fence. We did not want it and told them to put it on their own property. Despite our objections, they put it our property line. We sold our house three months later and moved about 5 minutes away.

Today I received a telephone call from our former neighbor demanding $300.00 for our side of the fence. My lawyer says we are not legally obligated to pay. These people have been friends of ours for the three years we lived together in the neighborhood. These people are also aware that things are financially tight for us right now. Should I let our friendship end over $300.00? .

You will not be the first person whose friendship has cooled over money issues. Since you said you did not want to participate and since they continued on their merry way and are expecting a payment; I would say they donít want your friendship as much as they want $300.

If I were in your shoes, I would just say no. I would not want to have more than a casual, nodding acquaintance with neighbors who allow their agenda to roll over my needs, requests, and wants. They have no respect for boundaries. The world is full of thoughtless people, why pay to have some around?



Dear Mrs. Web,

Our neighborís daughter, Heather has become seriously mentally ill with schizophrenia over the past two years. This young woman has become paranoid and violent at times and has attacked family members and strangers. Although she lives in a group home in the city, she visits about twice a month. We feel so bad for her parents and sisters. My children are ages five, seven, and nine. They remember Heather before she became sick. I donít want the kids around her because I am afraid of what she might do, since there are times she is not in control of herself. But at the same time, I feel terrible about keeping them away from her.

Heather is no longer the girl you knew. Heather is now dangerous and unpredictable. Your first responsibility is to make sure your children are safe. And at this time, Heather is not safe for them. In the future when they are older or when her medications are more effective the risk will be smaller.  In the meantime, you can show your compassion towards Heather and her family in ways that do not include your children. Your family could help her family with their other tasks when Heather is having a difficult time. A covered dish or a mowed lawn is tangible evidence of caring.



Dear Mrs. Web,

This letter is about my neighbor and his dog. I work very hard to keep my lawn in nice shape, but I am tired of finding little "surprises" that his dog leaves behind. I have spoken to my neighbor about this many times but he just shrugs it off and says he will try to watch "Fido" more closely. My town does have a "pooper-scooper" law but it only applies to parks and public spaces. I try hard to be a good neighbor, but I am about at the end of my rope about this. Can you suggest anything?

Dog problem # 51: Most towns that are civilized enough to have pooper-scooper laws also have leash laws. Either "Fido" is on one heck of a long leash or he's running loose. I would ÖahemÖcollect the evidence, bring it over to his lawn and point out that watching "Fido" obviously is not enough. I would then pleasantly suggest a dog run to keep puppy in his own yard AND to comply with local leash laws.



Dear Mrs. Web,

I have a neighbor that has been relatively quiet for the past couple of years and recently got a dog. I understand that dogs will bark, but they tie the poor mutt out the dog during the day while they go to work and the dog barks all day long which is very distracting to me as I work 3rd shift and sleep during the day. I called and politely mentioned that this was very disturbing and all I got for an answer to this problem was "sorry, the dog will have to get used to being tied out, I am sure things will get better". This was 2 weeks ago and I am losing sleep! What should I do?

I would call your local police or sheriff's office and find out what the local laws say. In most areas dogs are not allowed to disturb the peace. Once I knew the force of the law was with me, I would use it and call the police repeatedly, daily if necessary, until the matter was resolved. In our area people who have barking dogs are warned once and then ticketed at $50.00 a pop. This can add up in a few days. Then catch up on your sleep.



Dear Mrs. Web,

I run a child care business from my home and am most disturbed by my next door neighbor who sunbathes in her back yard with nothing on but a skimpy bikini. There is really not much room in between our houses and parents of children have even mentioned it. I am embarrassed to say anything because it is her property. Who am I to ask that she is more modest around all of these children and parents?

I would check with a lawyer but I think you are going to need to buy a higher fence. Bushes maybe?



Dear Mrs. Web,

My neighbor next door has an uncovered well. It looks like a danger to the neighborhood children. I have asked him to cover it twice. Nothing has happened. What should I do?

Get together with a couple of other neighborhood parents and pool talents and resources to meet informally with that guy next door. Tell him you all would like to build something to cover the well to keep the kids safe and that you would like to do it as soon as possible. Talk about design options that would work. Couch it in the old  " we know you have been so busyÖ".  We want the children safe and you protected from liabilityÖNicely now!


Dear Mrs. Web,

Our neighbors just divorced and the wife and three children are staying on at the house. The husband has left. She is always calling to have my husband come over and fix the different household problems that come up. At first we felt sorry for her and the kids but now she seems to be calling almost every day. My husband works hard and has a lot to take care of here at the house. We have both talked about it and are at a loss of how to tactfully turn her down, we don't want to be un-neighborly butÖ

The best way to do it would be to tell her that things at your own house need attending and that you won't be so available. This should be said gently with a lot of "I am sorry" and shoulder shrugging and perhaps a suggestion of a low-cost handyman or a local retired gentleman who would volunteer his time. She probably doesn't even realize how much she is imposing.  Then you and your husband should discuss how much time and energy you are willing to give to help out this neighbor...and stick to it.



Dear Mrs. Web,

Our new neighbors have a ten-year-old boy who goes to school here in the neighborhood. After school he comes home and within fifteen minutes of being home he is over here at our house hanging around. His parents both work apparently. Our family likes him a lot but he wonít go home. Some nights he stays to six or seven and has supper with us. His parents donít seem worried about where he is in the evening. They just donít seem to take responsibility for his daytime hours. Sometimes he brings a book and just sits on our deck and reads. What should I do?

Well you have two choices. First, you could tell him when he is welcome at your home and give him a written schedule and be firm. Or second, you could realize the need behind the behavior and address it.

My guess is that he is afraid to be alone in an empty house, which is a perfectly normal reaction for a ten-year-old boy. Is there any way you can incorporate him into your afternoons as a helper or doing yard work? Talk to his parents. You could tell them that you would count on his help after school and they could call when they got home. The nearby adult recognizing that the child has a need and helping him over the hump has helped along many a child in life.



Dear Mrs Web,

The little boy who lives next door is in the hospital with cancer and it is starting to look like he won't make it. His parents and little brother are spending all their time down at the Medical Center with him. They don't have much family nearby and we have been trying to figure out how to help. We started mowing their lawn and picking up their place when we do our own. They don't go to any church. We do and were wondering whether it would be ok to ask our pastor to stop in and visit with them. We don't want to be pushy but we thought he might help.

I don't think it would be too pushy. This family needs every kind hand that can be made available. They can always say "No thank you." You are nice neighbors. How refreshing!



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