Thursday, December 17, 2009

Neighbor or Nuisance

We live in a townhouse here in Bowie. The problem with townhouses is the close proximity to your neighbors. As a general rule, I want to be a decent neighbor.  At the very least, I want to let my neighbors be and respect their rights and space.  At the same time, I would expect them to be considerate of mine.

Being in a townhouse, I do not reasonably expect that I would never hear anything that goes on next door.  For instance, there have been times when I have heard people running up the steps next door.  Other times, you can hear the stereo blasting next door.  It is reasonable to hear a little bit of it, it is not reasonable to feel the walls vibrating, or to hear it late at night.

There is one neighbor that I am having a rather difficult time with of late.  It is a fairly young guy, or group of guys that are renting the house next to us.  There are a couple of issues with these guys in regards to noise.  First, is the music.  The other day, I came home from work a little before 7pm.  For nearly two hours, the stereo was blasting to the point where I had a hard time hearing the TV in the room I was sitting in.  I went next door to ask the guy to turn the music down and I could still hear it for another half hour.

They also have a dog.  They put the dog out on the deck for hours on end.  The dog will sit outside and bark for an hour or more.  I have had to go next door at 11pm to ask them to bring in the dog that had been whining for over an hour underneath my bedroom window.  According to the City of Bowie code,
Public nuisance animal shall mean any animal which unreasonably annoys or threatens humans, endangers the life or health of other animals or persons, which reasonably causes offense to human senses, or which substantially interferes with the rights of residents, other than its owners, to enjoyment of life or property.
The term “public nuisance animal” shall include, but is not limited to, any animal which:
(6) Excessively makes disturbing noises, including but not limited to, continued and repeated howling, barking, whining or other utterances, causing unreasonable annoyance, disturbance or discomfort to neighbors or others in close proximity to the premises where the animal is kept or harbored;
As I have said, we have gone next door to complain about the noise multiple times on both the music and the dog.  Yet, they continue to be oblivious and repeat the same actions time and time again.  I have yet to get to the point of calling the authorities to complain.  Although, I did email animal control to inquire about the regulation on barking dogs, and they sent somebody out to speak to our neighbor.

So I am seeking the advice of my wise readers.  A recent City of Bowie newsletter stated that they do not recommend confronting the offending party.  So far, this is what I have done.  My question would be am I just a grumpy old man or am I justified in my complaints?  If justified, at what point do I cease going over to ask them to quiet down the music or dog and call the Compliance Office and have them deal with the neighbors?  

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  1. Funny. I personally like the fact that you tried to work it out on your own before considering calling the authorities, but I can see why the City of Bowie would never recommend that you do that - given the litigious nature of our society and any potential liability their recommendation may carry.

    We have a neighbor who calls the police about everything - or at least a lot of things. The most recent one was where landscapers were running leaf blowers at 7am on Thanksgiving Day at another neighbor's house. I personally would not have done that, and the incident was certainly more isolated than the habitual offenders that live next door to you. Our cop calling neighbors once figured out that their kids had a rockin' party while they were out of town, and they told us that we should have called the cops on their kids, and they recommend that we do that if it happens again! Go figure.

    In your situation, I think that you will never successfully convert your neighbors into being the responsible neighbors that you wish they were - no matter how many times you call the authorities. Perhaps the only change that might be made in your favor is if the dog were taken from them. The risk of that scenario is that you create enemies next door, and the enemy that you don't know may be worse than the dog that you do know. I think it all boils down to that risk/reward scenario, and taking that risk is a personal choice. I wouldn't fault you for taking either approach.

  2. It's a tough one. I had a couple of friends who went through this same problem and had to move. I don't know the laws where you live but here in San Francisco there is a law where if there is noise after 10:00 PM the police will come out.

    I really am at a loss here for a solution because you are dealing with their pet. If it were loud music of something of that nature then it would be easier to deal with. You could always try fighting fire with fire, turn up the radio or tv or pound on your walls and see what happens. Last resort I think would be the police.

    Good luck and I hope you find a solution.

  3. Who knows, Mike. I try to be somewhat tolerant of the music and dog,and would rather not call the police or animal control, but when it goes on for more than an hour or late at night it's frustrating. Especially when I have to turn the TV up so loud that I can't carry on a conversation in my own living room

    Poetic, it is actually both the dog and the music.

  4. I live in a townhouse as well.I have one common wall with one of my neighbors,the common wall is made of cinder block from the basement up to the roof.Than the usual drywall on the inside of the units.and a set of garages between my other neighbor.most of the time all we hear from the common wall neighbors is when they are useing the shower if we are in the bathroom as well.Big Pets are a No-No.



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