Most of the time, we are blessed with friendly, easy-going and accommodating neighbors.
Sometimes, however, we get stuck with unreasonable neighbors.
Over many years of practice involving neighbor disputes, I have found that, unfortunately, it can be that a permanent solution comes only when one party moves away.
But when you don’t wish to solve the problem initially by this drastic method, and attempts to reason and negotiate directly with your neighbor have failed, and if the problem involved is too big to tolerate or ignore, it may be time to seek a lawyer’s help.
The lawyer fills a number of important practical needs in this difficult situation.
- If the neighbor is actively harassing you or your family, your lawyer can obtain a court order against the neighbor prohibiting the harassment. If the neighbor violates the order, he can be brought into court on a new “order to show cause” why he should not be held in contempt and jailed briefly for contempt if the judge finds the order against harassment was willfully violated.
- Where the situation is less intense, your lawyer can write a letter to the neighbor that: (1) explains exactly what laws the neighbor is violating, (2) respectfully demands that the illegal conduct stop immediately, and (3) requests that the neighbor obtain legal representation for himself to allow the attorneys for the parties to attempt to reach a solution that is mutually acceptable – without incurring the expense and increased stress of resolution through a lawsuit. Usually the neighbor obtains an attorney, and usually the attorneys can work together to an acceptable solution. Often this takes the form of a written agreement signed by the parties that is recorded in the County Recorder’s Office and binds the later owners of both properties unless it is mutually rescinded.
- Where mutual settlement can’t be reached, your lawyer can file suit in court for you to obtain a court order, called an injunction, to temporarily, and later permanently, prohibit the neighbor from continuing to violate your legal rights. If the neighbor has caused financial/property damage by his violation of your rights, the suit can also seek financial compensation for the injury.
- In general, your lawyer serves as buffer and a guide to help you out of the trouble.