Monday, February 14, 2011

Dealing with Neighbors

Shannon O'Brien of Gatehouse News Service posted an article on dealing with neighbors.

By Shannon O'Brien - GateHouse News Service

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - You've bought a new home -- possibly your dream home.

It has the office space you've always wanted, that extra bedroom for guests and a luscious backyard. All your inspections for the plumbing, the roof, the electrical wiring, pests and everything else have come back clean. It appears the house is perfect.

But after you move in, you discover the one variable you hadn’t considered: your neighbors.

It can be difficult sometimes.
“I think it is interesting that when you buy a house, the sellers are required to disclose any lead or radon problems, but not that the neighbor is a problem, which is so much worse,” says Rhetta Jack of Springfield.

When we asked readers to tell us how they handled bad neighbors, it touched a nerve. Some of these neighbors might even make friendly Mr. Rogers take his sweaters and fish tank to a new ZIP code.

- Jack recalled having neighbors who would shoot paintballs at her windows in the middle of the night, or throw projectiles over the fence at her when she was in her yard. "I jumped for joy when they were evicted," she says.

- Debra Lowe of Chatham reports her frustration with a former neighbor who had a floodlight that was set on a timer. The light shone through her back door, forcing her to keep the curtains closed for fear he could see inside. And she said the authorities told her their hands were tied unless the neighbor "actually did something physically to us," Lowe said.

- Robert Rodgers of Chatham says he once endured a neighbor who threw garbage, leaves or downed limbs over the fence, and that the neighbor often made rude comments or called his children names.

Other horror stories include neighbors who made physical threats, stole items, piled junk in their yards, blasted their stereos loudly or even made racially insensitive comments.

For some, the problem was solved once they moved; for others, they are still living through the nightmare of having bad neighbors.

So, we asked Lt. Jeff Berkler of the Sangamon County Sheriff's Department how to handle some common complaints with your neighbors when they don’t seem too … neighborly.



Loud noise

Most municipalities have noise ordinances. Anyone who violates these ordinances could face fines of several hundred dollars.

But the noise allowance often is different during daylight hours, Berkler said.

"If someone calls and says someone is mowing the grass at 7 a.m., there isn't anything we can do about that. But if it happens at 3 a.m., then we can do something," he said.
The noise reading on a decibel meter (noise meter)

If a neighbor is playing music too loudly, bring it to the neighbor's attention. He or she may be unaware that it's bothering anyone. But if it's a party late at night and there’s a lot of noise, it’s probably best to call authorities first, Berkler said.

"If there’s alcohol involved, there’s no telling what kind of reaction you might receive if you go and tell them to keep the noise down, so it’s best to call authorities," he said.


Projectiles and verbal assault

If someone throws stuff at you, the situation becomes an assault, Berkler said. And you have the right to contact the authorities.

Verbal assault is a little more complicated.

Berkler says if your neighbor says, "I'm going to come over there and punch you in the face," it becomes a physical threat and a reason to contact authorities.

If your neighbor is verbally harassing you but is not posing an immediate threat, there may not be much legal action you can take, except to document the harassment and then possibly pursue it as a nuisance complaint.

Some cases, such as personal injury or property damage, may be handled in small claims court. According to the Illinois Attorney General Web site, the maximum judgment allowed in small claims court is $10,000 plus costs. You can choose to represent yourself or hire an attorney.

However, if you wish to file for an injunction — asking the court to prohibit an individual from doing something — you'll likely need an attorney’s help. . . .

Read full article here.

And note: most municipalities also have ordinances that dictate what a neighbor can't do. You might want to look up your noise ordinance to see what is against the law.

Note: links may have been added herein for supplemental information. - The Daily Decibel

Further Information

If you've been reading The Daily Decibel, you probably know that we often suggest wearing earplugs to block -- or drown out -- neighborhood noise.

But some people have asked, "I don't want to wear ear plugs, because I won't hear the alarm to get up in the morning. How do you hear the alarm so you can wake up in the morning?"

Here's one suggestion: get an alarm clock with a bright strobe light. The bright light is designed to wake you up when the alarm sounds off. This is good for when you don't want to wake your family members. It's good if you don't want to disturb other persons.

Or, you can get a vibrator alarm clock to either attach to your wrist or put under your pillow, and it vibrates. If you check sites that sell items for deaf or hard-of-hearing persons, those kinds of sites.

You can also just get an alarm clock radio and turn the volume waaaay up to a blasting sound! Hopefully, that should wake you!

Yes, little Cookie, it can be too loud sometimes. We feel your pain.

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