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Advice about Unkempt Neighbors
We live in the Berkeley Hills and look onto a bay view over houses below us on the other side of the street. The people in the house directly across the street from us have recently added a mishmash of blue lawn furniture and old chairs and stools on their pitched roof. They must sit up there at night because I've never seen anyone up there during the day -- just the ugly furniture in full view. It's a real eyesore and I'm wondering if I have a right to ask them to remove it when they're not using it or if there are any regulations about using the roof of a house this way? I've never met the people who live there, so I'm hesitant to introduce myself with a complaint. LC
We have a neighbor who has turned their yard into a junkyard. They have several large, defunct items that sit unused--torn patio umbrellas, a broken down gazebo, a non- functional wheeled popcorn cart, etc. A while ago, it seemed they were cleaning up the space, but several new items have since appeared. The area is so crowded now that items are causing our shared fence to bend. They also recently installed a giant tarp over their ''treasures'', which flaps and makes noise in the wind. Our shared fence is not high enough to block our view of their yard, so it's in plain view for us. It's a tremendous eyesore. Not only are we tired of looking at it, we are worried it will affect our already-dwindling property value.
I know I should just approach them and ask them about cleaning it up, but they have not been very friendly in our limited interactions. It's also a multi-family house, and I'm not entirely sure who is responsible for the yard. I know some cities/states have nuisance laws that would potentially apply here, and could force them to clean it up. I've done a cursory Google search, but can't find what I'm looking for. Does anyone know whether such laws exist here and if this type of situation would apply? Who would I call to deal with this? The city? We're in El Cerrito, if that matters. I am normally a live-and-let-live type of person, but I'm really tired of looking at their junk. I also recognize that this is likely hoarding behavior, and maybe a forced cleanup would get these people some help. Any advice on how to deal with this situation would be appreciated. Thanks! Junkyard Neighbor
Hi, our neighbor has this huge pile of trash in his yard. Basically the majority of his yard is filled with mattresses and furniture and basically everything else he's ever gotten ''rid of'' during his 30+ years in his house. We live in an upscale part of Oakland and when we bought our house 5 years ago we basically couldn't see much of the heap. Well, times have changed and they've been remodeling and now there is so much there that we can see it from throughout our house. The most terrible part is that the owner's brother actually cleared out a bunch of stuff and had it on the curb for the solid waste pick up day, but the owner made him put it all back in their back and side yards. Huge disappointment. Is there anything that I can do legally or through using government channels to get him to clean this up? Any ideas of how to deal with this? Because it's viewable from our house now, it's probably affecting our home valuation besides the simple trashiness of it all. -tired of the trash heap
Of course, Oakland city services are a tad bit overwhelmed at the moment, so don't get your hopes up too high. But at least you have some recourse. Jennifer
D. Property Inadequately Maintained.
1. Property which is not kept clean and sanitary and free from all accumulations of offensive matter or odor including, but not limited to, overgrown or dead or decayed trees, weeds or other vegetation, rank growth, dead organic matter, rubbish, junk, garbage, animal intestinal waste and urine, and toxic or otherwise hazardous liquids and substances and material. ...
2. Property which constitutes a fire hazard or a condition considered dangerous to the public health, safety, and general welfare,
3. Property which is likely to or does harbor rats or other vectors, vermin, feral pets, or other non-domesticated animal nuisances,
4. Property which substantially detracts from the aesthetic and economic values of neighboring properties...
7. Property including, but not limited to, building facade, window, doorway, driveway, walkway, fence, wall, landscaped planter or area, sidewalk, curb and gutter, and edge of street pavement on which dirt, litter, vegetation, garbage, refuse, debris, flyers, or circulars have accumulated,...
10. Property on which recyclable materials are openly stored. ...
11. Property which is not securely fenced or adequately lighted to prevent illegal access and activity related to the dumping of garbage, waste, debris and litter.
Here are a couple sources for enforcement:
http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Government/o/CEDA/o/BuildingServi ces/s/CityCodeEnforcement/index.htm Carrie
Last Christmas the house next store went up for sale. The sign out front disappeared in the spring but there was no change in ownership that we could detect. Everyone on our block kind of keeps to themselves so we didn't know anything for sure. Slowly since then the neighbors disposed of their household items sometimes leaving furnishings or discards on the curb. When we returned from our outing on Father's Day it appeared that they had moved beyond the random give aways and abandonded the house... windows were left open on the second story, a matress & box spring and bedside furniture was strewn about the front yard as though they left in a hurry. It was all kind of creepy for a few days. Since then they have returned about once a week. At first they just seemed to be cleaning up behind themselves. Then we noticed that the visits were less about cleaning and more about foraging. Last week the door disappeared off the shed in the back yard (that they had been renting out illegally). Tonight they came back again and we could hear (and see through the windows) that they were stripping all of the molding out of the inside of the house.
Now normally I am a live and let live kind of neighbor. I know times are tough. I know they bought that house at the top of the market and clearly even renting out every room in it they couldn't make their payments. I get that it makes more sense to walk away from the house... but this is beyond walking away. Over the past few years there have been two other houses on our block that have taken more than a year to sell even with significantly reduced prices, and both of those were fixed up.
At the rate the neighbors are going we are destined to be the long time neighbors of a wreck that can't be sold. I'm worried that it will attract nothing but vermin. (We had a huge racoon problem when the other houses were vacant.) And what if they pull the electrical and plumbing out? Could they cause damage that will affect our home? Is there anything that we can do to stop what is going on? advice please
The removal of things like molding may disturb you, but technically the house is still theirs (unless a notice of default is posted on the home) and short of taking the wiring and appliances, so far they've done nothing technically wrong.
I understand that you are worried about your home. But as a regular mom/family who is going through the heart-breaking process ourselves, it isn't easy. We come back every weekend and mow the lawn and make sure the house (we are now renting elswhere) is still in good shape. Your neighbors come and go probably at weird times as to avoid looks and embarassing questions. As for us, we came up with an elaborate story so our neighbors wouldn't think less of us. Our short sale is in month four. I was the breadwinner in our family and was laid off a few months back.
So, my suggestion: keep an eye out but rememeber that this isn't easy for anyone. Lukcy we are not homeless
If you think the owners are local and reasonable, you might try East Bay Community Mediation (EBCM), which will do a formal mediation with you and your neighbors, so you will get a timetable for actions you can both live with.
Recently a long-abandoned house in Albany was sold (the city forced the owners to sell) after neighbors delivered a petition and contacted the local paper.
Group pressure is the way to go. --watchful neighbor
According to Zillow, about 30% of Alameda Co. homeowners are ''under water'' in their mortgages, and I imagine that some in desperate straits are going to consider just vacating with everything that's not nailed down (or nailed down that well...). Friend and Neighbor
I agree with other responders that you might be able to gather information either by talk to the neighbors directly, or by looking the house up on Zillow. You might also do a search for foreclosed houses in your area, and see if the house is on the list. (I think you can look by address.) Besides the one response telling you absolutely nothing helpful whatsoever, you seem to have received a bunch of responses with good advice such as contacting the City Manager, and trying to find out which bank owns the house/the mortgage. From your post, it seems highly unlikely that they are entitled to be stripping the interior molding and such at this point. Obviously you are well aware that this is a difficult situation for everyone, you are just trying to prevent a bad situation from getting even worse. I hope your city authorities are responsive, and I hope you can dig up some info regarding the bank entity to contact. Good luck!
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