Disputes between neighbors can occur over any number of things. From noise to encroachment of trees and other landscaping to a neighboring property that’s not maintained, these disputes can escalate when one or both parties is intractable.
Some of the more serious disputes that can result in lawsuits often involve property boundaries. There may be an issue with a fence or wall on what is legally the next door neighbor’s property, for example.
Increasingly, invasion of privacy disputes are common. A neighbor may have a drone that flies over your walled-in yard or outside your windows. Security cameras that take in adjacent properties can also be an invasion of privacy.
If you’re selling your home, you may feel like that’s just a problem the new owners will inherit. Often, however, these issues either must be resolved before the house can be sold or at least disclosed to potential buyers.
“Active neighbor disputes” can even lead to what’s called “external obsolescence” in real estate parlance. That when a property depreciates in value because of some type of external factor that the property owner can’t remedy on their own.
Why you should try to hide the problem
It’s almost never a good idea to try to keep the issue from prospective buyers. Failure to do so could land you on the wrong side of a lawsuit. If there’s any kind of boundary issue, that’s definitely something you should get resolved before putting your home on the market.
Unless resolution is required by a third party – for example, with a boundary dispute or a potentially hazardous condition on the neighboring property – it may be necessary to resolve it with the neighbor prior to trying to sell your home. This may be the only way you can sell the home – or at least get a reasonable price for it.
Mediation can cool things down and help you find a resolution
If talking with your neighbor isn’t helping, you may be able to get them to agree to mediation. If the alternative is a lawsuit, they may agree to engage in mediation, which is faster and less expensive than going to court.
If mediation doesn’t work or they don’t abide by the agreement you reach, you still have the option of a lawsuit. However, mediation provides a chance for both parties to sit down with an unbiased mediator, which can diffuse some of the tension that’s likely built up and help each party understand the other’s point of view. It’s worth learning more about it.