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What to Do if the House Next to Yours Is a Wreck

[Updated: Feb 06, 2020] Feb 06, 2020 by Maurie Backman
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When you bought your home, you may have noticed that the property next door wasn't exactly in top shape. But what if, through the years, your neighbors' house has gone from not the most attractive to a total eyesore?

Unfortunately, living next door to a wreck of a house can bring down the value of your home. And, it can make for a very unpleasant existence, as no one wants to cringe every time he or she looks out the window.

The good news, however, is that you don't need to resign yourself to living next door to ugliness. There are a few steps you can take to try to remedy the problem.

1. Talk to your neighbors -- and offer to help

Maybe the home next door to yours has overgrown grass, chipped siding, and a line of dead bushes because its owners are ill or elderly, and they don't have the capacity to keep it well-maintained. That's why a gentle conversation with your neighbors may not hurt. Politely explain that you've noticed that their home's condition has deteriorated, and offer to assist to the best of your abilities. That assistance could run the gamut from recommending a contractor or landscaping company to pulling out your gardening tools and getting your hands dirty.

2. Report the home to your HOA

If you live in a housing community with a homeowners association (HOA), it pays to report a neighbor whose home looks neglected (after giving that neighbor a chance to remedy the problem, of course). Chances are, that HOA has rules in place dictating how individual properties need to be maintained, and if the house next door is a total wreck, it's almost certainly in violation of those laws. At that point, the HOA will generally have the right to force the owner in question to make repairs or face fines and other consequences.

3. Complain to your township or local government office

If you're not part of an HOA, you can still lodge a complaint about the eyesore next door at your local municipal office. Chances are, if that house is really in disarray, it's in violation of some sort of local code, at which point your neighbors may receive a warning to fix the issues in question or otherwise face costly consequences.

4. Put up a barrier

If, despite your best efforts, the wreck next door doesn't get fixed, you can alleviate the problem by blocking off your home to the greatest extent possible. Put up the largest privacy fence you can find, or find trees or tall shrubbery that can help mask that unsavory view.

Take action

Living next door to an eyesore isn't great, but if that's what's happening, don't resign yourself to that misery. Instead, make every effort to sway your neighbors to take care of their home, and explore other remedies if they refuse.

Another thing: It could be that money problems are the source of that home's poor condition, in which case your neighbors may be looking to unload that property. If you have the appetite for a real estate investment, you could have a real opportunity to buy that home on the cheap, improve it, and sell or rent it at a price that works out quite well for you.

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