RE Q&A: Neighbor’s Property Is an Eyesore


There are “nuisance property” remedies, along with disagreements on what constitutes a nuisance. If an HOA applies, start there. If not, talk to the city.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Question: Over the last three years, our neighbor’s property has been getting more run down. He does not live in the house; it needs maintenance, and the lawn is out of control. The list goes on. The property is an eyesore and is driving down property values along with our enjoyment of our home. What can we do? – Karin

Answer: Property owners may use their property the way they want as long as they do not violate any rules and do not impair their neighbor’s right to do the same.

Lawyers use the term “nuisance” to describe a situation where someone uses their property in a way that interferes with their neighbor’s peaceful enjoyment of their home. Examples of nuisance include unreasonable amounts of noxious smells, smoke, and noise; directing water drainage onto someone else’s land; and posting indecent signs or pictures.

Letting your property decay to where it is hurting neighbors’ ability to enjoy their property can also be a nuisance.

What is seen as a nuisance can vary in each situation. As with most problems, speaking with your neighbor about it is a good starting point. They might not know of the situation.

If this does not work and you live in a community association, contact the property manager to get them to intercede.

You can contact your municipality if you do not live in a planned development.

Poor home maintenance can sometimes rise to the level of a code compliance issue. The threat of fines, if the situation is not resolved, can be a great motivator.

Unfortunately, if the matter is not worked out, you will need to hire a lawyer and go to court. After being correctly asked, a judge can grant an “injunction” ordering your neighbor to maintain the property, at least to a certain minimum standard.

If your neighbor still does not maintain the property, you can return to court to have them held in contempt of the injunction order, which has serious consequences.

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