Are Bad Neighbors Driving Your Good Tenants Away?
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neighborsYour Chico rental property may be a well-maintained, cozy unit with universal appeal and you might be the world’s greatest landlord, but what happens when a bad neighbor makes it hard for you to attract or keep decent tenants? While landlords have some control over what their own tenants can and cannot do in a rental property, there’s not much that can be done about bad neighbors on their own nearby property.

 

Here are three of the most common bad neighbor practices and some ideas on how you can minimize the effect the neighbor might have on your current and future tenants.

 

Bad Neighbor #1. Unattractive Property

 

Ugly House, its piles of junk, inoperable cars or a poorly maintained home and yard, an unattractive neighboring property can really drag your rental property’s appeal down.

 

Even if your rental property is well-maintained and landscaped, it doesn’t take much for prospective tenants to glance next door and wonder what kind of person they will be living next to if they choose to move in. Seeing bad neighbors and ugly property every day may be one of those things that prospective tenants feel like they simply can’t live with.

 

Cosmetically, you can minimize the view from your own rental property by using some creative landscaping methods. Consider installing a privacy fence between your property and the bad neighbor. Many cities allow fencing as tall as between 6 to 8 feet in the backyard. Try planting fast-growing trees that will soon be tall enough to screen out the trashy yard. If a view from one of the rental property’s window overlooks the neighbor’s bad yard, try installing dual blinds that only open at the top half, allowing light and a view of the sky while blocking out a downward view of the mess.

 

From a legal standpoint, see what kind of regulations the city has in place for yard or lot maintenance standards. Many cities have outlined minimum requirements for residents that include maximum grass height, keeping trash and junk on a property, inoperable motor vehicles, outdoor storage rules, maintenance for dead trees and other vegetation and keeping commercial equipment on private property. Get the law on your side and let officials know that the neighbor is violating city codes.

 

Bad Neighbor #2. Big, Loud Dogs

 

Dealing with the noise from a neighbor’s dogs can be one of the most frustrating things as a landlord because it can be a deal breaker for otherwise qualified tenants who love your rental property.

 

Similarly, neighbors who allow their big dogs to roam around the neighborhood can scare off prospective tenants who don’t want to risk living next to animals that are potentially unpredictable. Whether it’s the dog’s barking or merely the presence of big dogs next door, these bad neighbors probably don’t realize the difficulties they are causing you.

 

Most cities have regulations in place to deal with dogs who bark excessively or who are allowed to roam free. Check with the city to determine the standards for unreasonable levels of noise and especially how they pertain to dogs. Generally, louder noises are allowed during the day with a quiet period outlined for evenings and nights. Know what the law allows before you head next door to discuss it with the dog owner. If bad neighbors are unwilling to make changes, you and your tenants are well within your rights to call the police or animal control. With enough warnings and fines, the dog owners will either comply or lose their animals.

 

As a landlord, you might consider changing your rental agreement to allow prospective tenants with a dog. The reason for this is that current dog owners have a hard time finding rental properties that allow pets, so they may be less likely to turn up their nose at the neighbor’s animals. Also, current dog owners may be a little more tolerant of neighboring dogs because they have one of their own.

 

Bad Neighbor #3. Excessive or Late Night Noise

 

When your rental property’s neighbor has a habit of blasting loud music, hosting rowdy late night parties or working with power tools early in the morning, it can drive current and prospective tenants crazy. If you confront the neighbor about noise problems, it’s helpful to have knowledge of the city’s noise ordinances to back you up.

 

Similar to the dog regulations, cities generally have noise ordinances in place for certain times of day. Noise above a certain decibel level in the evening and night can be a violation, and therefore enforced by law. First, remind bad neighbors about the restrictions and politely inform him or her that you’ll encourage your tenants to report excessive violations. Then, give your tenants the information they need to make the reports to the police if and when the neighbor ever generates excessive noise during off hours.

 

You can also take certain steps to minimize outside noise from within the rental property. Windows are the primary entry point for outside noise, so make sure that all the caulking and weather stripping is intact and making a tight seal. You might consider installing multiple pane windows in the spots that face the neighbor’s property to better block acoustics from next door. Putting up soundproofing window covers, like shutters, window blankets or noise reducing curtains can further muffle outside noises for your tenants.