Author Topic: Problematic neighbor situation  (Read 4571 times)

KaizenSoze

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Problematic neighbor situation
« on: April 08, 2015, 12:49:31 PM »
I don't want to get into the gory details of my neighbours marriage problems. So, I'll keep it simple, she still lives there, he does not but isn't far away. He is still paying the mortgage, utilities, and homeowner fees for her. What he is not doing is maintaining the property. The house is bad shape, huge cracks in the stucco, rotting wood. This has been going on for a few years. At one point the wood siding was off, insulation exposed, for months. The siding is back on but only partially painted and there are birds nesting in the part rotting parts that were not fixed. Keeping lite on the details, we are on good terms with the wife, she has always been nice to us. The husband is friendly but nothing happens. The wife had says she wants a divorce but the husband has done nothing and she doesn't have the money to pursue it herself. We have tried to guide her to free service w/o success.

We guess the house has not been put on the market because they are underwater. And they are short on money to fix it up. Though the husband seems to get a new expensive sports car every few years.

Here's the problem. We are the adjoining townhouse. FIRE is planned tentatively for no more than five years from now. Probably less. That means selling our house with the decaying wreck next door. The neighbour on the other side told they had planned to rent their house because the figured it wouldn't sell for a good price with the wreck next door.

The odd thing is we live in a planned community. If you know anything about Reston, VA, they have a very strong association but nothing has been done about the state of the house. The association is very quite about on going disputes, but it's been years.

Open to suggestions. We're sympathetic to the wife's situation, she's stuck in the house with almost no incoming. She would have to move out of the area if the house sold. At the same time, we do have to protect our interests. 

Sibley

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Re: Problematic neighbor situation
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2015, 12:58:49 PM »
Try talking to Code enforcement/building department. Local city hall, etc. If it's in that bad of shape, it's probably getting to be a danger. They may already be aware of it, but they'll know what your options are.

Also, talk to the HOA or whatever the community governance is. That's why they exist, to take of issues like this. They can be as quiet as they want, but if everyone starts screaming about it they'll have to respond.

I get that you like the wife, but the husband's actions are hurting your property values, plus whatever danger the structure poses. Make it clear to her that it's not personal, and if she gets upset with you just be polite and sympathetic but firm that the problems have to be dealt with.

Gimesalot

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Re: Problematic neighbor situation
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2015, 12:59:43 PM »
Is there a city blight hotline?  We have a similar situation and I called the city.  Supposedly, an inspector will be sent out if there is merit to my complaint, the case will move forward.  In New Orleans the city can and has taken blighted properties away from owners.  They are auctioned off at rock bottom prices with the agreement that they will be fixed and on the market in less than a year.

Something similar might be available in your area.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Problematic neighbor situation
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2015, 01:07:26 PM »
Have you reported the property to the HOA or community board - whichever enforces the neighborhood rules? Have you attended any meetings to speak directly to the board/HOA? They should be enforcing minimum standards of upkeep in exactly this type of situation. I would be much more aggressive about keeping in contact with them.

If it's as bad as you say, and has been going on for years, then it hasn't really got anything to do with the couple's separation; they're just lousy homeowners and shouldn't be owners if they can't maintain the property to minimum standards. I can't even imagine how nasty the insides of the property are if that's how the exterior is neglected.


BlueHouse

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Re: Problematic neighbor situation
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2015, 02:05:31 PM »
First, hi neighbor. I used to live in Reston.  I think you may need to rethink your approach and your thoughts on what is fair -- because you may end up on the short end of the stick on this.  I applaud your patience so far, and in the interest of keeping your own sanity, I suggest the following:

Reframe the entire situation, and look at it as if you are maintaining a nice neighborhood.  Maybe other neighbors will help out too. 
1.  why is it the husband's responsibility to provide maintenance and upkeep for the house?  He's already paying the bills for wife to live there for free.  I would think maintenance is a small price for her to pay to live in a lovely town like Reston.
2.  If you were close friends with any neighbor, you would probably be over there helping with the house maintenance.  So maybe just go over and help.  You may get a wonderful friendship out of it and maybe she can repay you with a homemade meal once a week, or dog-walking, or gardening, or something else that she may have natural abilities for.  Or maybe you'll just be teaching her how to put up siding and paint.   
3.  Consider this "your Detroit" and do whatever it takes (yes, your own time and your own money invested in order to keep your house above water)  I know it's not fair, but then who ever promised life would be fair?

As an aside, my relatives live on a golf course that was recently bought by someone VERY rich and with a public personality.  He purchased the home next door to my relative for his infrequent visits.  He's rarely there, so he has no idea that his deck has wood rot or that the people he's paying to maintain his house aren't doing a good job.  My relatives will be going to the nursery this weekend to purchase plants and they will plant them in HIS yard because otherwise, they have to look at his ugly-ass A/C unit.  My relatives have done landscaping projects and have also cleaned off his deck because they're the ones who have to live with it.  They've called the groundskeepers to let them know that his pipes were frozen, and they've picked up trash and decaying wood from his property and disposed of it properly.  Sometimes I look at it and think "you should just call the news and let them know that this famous person is a derelict homeowner" and other times I think my relatives are just being neighborly.  If this were the previous homeowner, whom they were friendly with, they would have done the same with no expectations of repayment, just because. 

Sorry for the long response.  Do what you can to remain sane.  That's really what matters. 

KaizenSoze

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Re: Problematic neighbor situation
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2015, 02:12:56 PM »
Have you reported the property to the HOA or community board - whichever enforces the neighborhood rules? Have you attended any meetings to speak directly to the board/HOA? They should be enforcing minimum standards of upkeep in exactly this type of situation. I would be much more aggressive about keeping in contact with them.

If it's as bad as you say, and has been going on for years, then it hasn't really got anything to do with the couple's separation; they're just lousy homeowners and shouldn't be owners if they can't maintain the property to minimum standards. I can't even imagine how nasty the insides of the property are if that's how the exterior is neglected.

Reston has two levels of home associations. The local association is very aware of the situation but the husband is paying the dues which greatly limit their ability to force action. I'm pretty sure higher Reston association has been notified by the local. Most of the enforcement occurs when the house is sold, which does not seems likely anytime soon.

KaizenSoze

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Re: Problematic neighbor situation
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2015, 02:24:52 PM »
First, hi neighbor. I used to live in Reston.  I think you may need to rethink your approach and your thoughts on what is fair -- because you may end up on the short end of the stick on this.  I applaud your patience so far, and in the interest of keeping your own sanity, I suggest the following:

Reframe the entire situation, and look at it as if you are maintaining a nice neighborhood.  Maybe other neighbors will help out too. 
1.  why is it the husband's responsibility to provide maintenance and upkeep for the house?  He's already paying the bills for wife to live there for free.  I would think maintenance is a small price for her to pay to live in a lovely town like Reston.
2.  If you were close friends with any neighbor, you would probably be over there helping with the house maintenance.  So maybe just go over and help.  You may get a wonderful friendship out of it and maybe she can repay you with a homemade meal once a week, or dog-walking, or gardening, or something else that she may have natural abilities for.  Or maybe you'll just be teaching her how to put up siding and paint.   
3.  Consider this "your Detroit" and do whatever it takes (yes, your own time and your own money invested in order to keep your house above water)  I know it's not fair, but then who ever promised life would be fair?

Sorry for the long response.  Do what you can to remain sane.  That's really what matters.

You make some intriguing suggestions. We are not close friends with the wife, just good terms. We try to be good neighbours. I know you were not suggesting otherwise. I shovel her sidewalk for instance, we keep an eye on her, she has some health issues, she uses our wifi because she doesn't have the money. The whole situation between the couple smells. I don't think he's maintaining her in good faith. I'll leave it there.

Though the amount of problems with the house is beyond my limited skills, but the stucco repair might be possible for instance.. Interesting. Not sure if the husband would go for it. There is the whole liability issue if I make a mistake.

KaizenSoze

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Re: Problematic neighbor situation
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2015, 02:26:59 PM »
Is there a city blight hotline?  We have a similar situation and I called the city.  Supposedly, an inspector will be sent out if there is merit to my complaint, the case will move forward.  In New Orleans the city can and has taken blighted properties away from owners.  They are auctioned off at rock bottom prices with the agreement that they will be fixed and on the market in less than a year.

Something similar might be available in your area.

You're right! The county does have a blight report site. I'm just gathering options right now but thanks for that!

mtn

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Re: Problematic neighbor situation
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2015, 02:35:12 PM »
Outside suggestion: Suggest to buy the place, either for what it is worth or what is remaining on the loan, fix it, and you reap the benefits.
Assuming that doesn't put her in the streets.

BlueHouse

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Re: Problematic neighbor situation
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2015, 02:39:27 PM »
http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/states/virginia/homeownership/buyingprgms
Virginia Affiliates of Habitat for Humanity - through volunteer labor, builds and rehabilitates houses for families in need

Maybe try something like this?  Hard topic to bring up if you don't know her too well.  Hell, I'd even write in to extreme home makeover or something like that to see if something could be done.

danny9m

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Re: Problematic neighbor situation
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2015, 05:23:12 PM »
In nj, town home exteriors are the responsibility of the association.


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sweetkerryline

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Re: Problematic neighbor situation
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2015, 05:59:15 PM »
Try talking to Code enforcement/building department. Local city hall, etc. If it's in that bad of shape, it's probably getting to be a danger. They may already be aware of it, but they'll know what your options are.

Also, talk to the HOA or whatever the community governance is. That's why they exist, to take of issues like this. They can be as quiet as they want, but if everyone starts screaming about it they'll have to respond.

I get that you like the wife, but the husband's actions are hurting your property values, plus whatever danger the structure poses. Make it clear to her that it's not personal, and if she gets upset with you just be polite and sympathetic but firm that the problems have to be dealt with.

I second the response. I had a friend in Tysons (obviously not quite the same location) with a similar issue a while back and she got it resolved by reporting to regulators out that way.

bruce88

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Re: Problematic neighbor situation
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2015, 03:52:14 AM »
Or,
try waiting them out by moving to another home and renting your current home out.  We used a similar tactic when the housing market tanked and we had a job relocation.  Since we didn't want to "give the house away", we rented it out for 3 years, then sold it when the market rebounded.

Renters are not as picky about the condition of nearby homes as potential buyers are, so you should be able to rent it for enough to cover your expenses, maybe more since there is a shortage of rentals currently in much of the USA. 

It could be that in a couple of years, your neighbor will move and the house will be restored by new owners.  You could then sell it, or move back if you want to take advantage of the tax free status of selling your personal residence.

If the situation never resolves, you will still have a nice rental property, which will greatly improve your odds of early FIRE.