Dealing with Bad Neighbors

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Dealing with Bad Neighbors

aptsherpa · Mar 15, 2006

You haven’t gotten any sleep in two weeks because the neighbors above you seem to be part of a marathon, practicing every night by running from their bedroom to the kitchen, the bathroom, the living room, and even down the stairs. And of course, the neighbors on both sides of you are having a competition to see who can drown out the other’s music at 3 in the morning. What about the neighbor whose dog pees all over your patio furniture? What do all of your neighbors have in common? They make your life hell and just renewed their lease for another year. What can you do? Learn how to deal with a bad neighbor.

Now, not all neighbors are bad, but there always seems to be those few that just seem to find their way near your apartment. Of course, if that’s the case, what can you do? Can you break you lease because of a bad neighbor? Well, it depends. Here are a few situations of bad neighbors, our suggestions of how to handle them, and what you have a right to do.

Loud Neighbors:

I live in a bottom apartment and new tenants just moved in above me. The problem I am having is that all day and even up to 12:30 am they are jumping and banging on the floor, the banging is very loud and to the point of giving me a head ache. I have asked them not to be so loud and to consider that they are above other people and to be considerate of this, but as of yet they continue, I am kept up late and woken in my sleep due to the noise. Is there any thing I can do?

Sincerely,

Sleepless Nights

Dear Sleepless Nights,

After some research, the main thing that you need to do is to keep a paper trail.

This being said, there should be a clause in your lease that you should refer to when writing the company you pay rent to.  You should mention that you are writing because you have lack of quiet and enjoyment, refer to the clause in your lease, and describe the problem. i.e. the new tenants jump and bang on the floor until 12:30 in the morning.

After you send them a certified letter you should give them a “reasonable amount of time” to respond, which is usually 7-10 days.  If your landlord hasn’t taken ANY steps to solving the problem within this time, you have a right to sue them, but you still might not be able to break your lease.

Remember this is not legal advice because we are not a law firm.  This is only our recommendation.  If you need more help, please contact the Tenant’s Council in your area.

Neighbors with Pets:

There’s a clause on the website that states dogs should be less than 35 lbs and no aggressive dogs would be permitted in the building, but my neighbor has a pit bull. Can I get out of my lease?

Sincerely,

Dog Catcher

Dear Dog Catcher,

If your landlord is aware of your neighbor’s situation and ignoring their policy of having only dogs less than 35 lbs and the prohibition of aggressive dogs, then there are a few things to first consider.

First, you should check your lease to see if it states this clause that you found on the website. If it is in your lease, then you should contact the company you pay rent to and notify them of situation by certified mail, return receipt. This will ensure that your landlord is aware of the animal situation. As a tenant, you are entitled to the name and address of the owner of the company and mangers of the apartment complex.

You must then give the landlord a reasonable amount of time, 7-10 days, to begin solving the problem. After this time, you have a right to sue the landlord and should consult an attorney. Although you have a right to sue, you most likely don’t have the option of breaking your lease.

If after you check you lease, you cannot find the clause that was on the website, your case is not that strong. You will need to prove that there is a health and safety issue from the animal to be able to get out of your lease. Look in your state’s property code to verify that it is considered a health and safety issue. In Texas, it is in Chapter 92 of the Texas Property Code (Code 92.201).

If you are unable still to find this, then you will either have to find a buyout clause in your lease, or deal with your neighbor.

Remember this is not legal advice because we are not a law firm.  This is only our recommendation.  If you need more help, please contact the Tenant’s Council in your area.

What can I do if the neighbor above me allows their pet to pee all over my patio? It has already ruined my furniture and plants. Can I break my lease?

Smelly Patio

Dear Smelly Patio,

It’s a shame that your neighbor above you appears to be so irresponsible. The first thing you should do is to make sure that your rent is fully paid. If your rent is not fully paid, your landlord has a right to evict you from your apartment, lock you out of your apartment, and does not have to acknowledge your requests.

Once you’ve made sure that your rent if fully paid, you should notify your landlord by certified mail of the fact that the neighbor’s pet above you has ruined your property. This is to keep a paper trail of the situation in case you need to go to court. Your landlord then has 7-10 days to make any action towards a solution.

If your landlord promises to pay you for your furniture, cleaning, etc, be sure that you have your landlord put any promises in writing, with their signature, and a date. With landlord-tenant laws, it is difficult to uphold anything verbal from a landlord, it must be in writing.

If your landlord does not take any action towards a solution to your situation, then you have a right to sue to landlord. However, you might not be able to break you lease. If it comes to this, please consult with the tenant’s council in your area.

Remember this is not legal advice because we are not a law firm.  This is only our recommendation.  If you need more help, please contact the Tenant’s Council in your area.

The moral to our story is this: Be sure to have a paper trail of everything you give your landlord, give them a reasonable amount of time (7-10 days) to correct the problem, and then, if your landlord hasn’t taken ANY steps to solving the problem within this time, you have a right to sue them. Good luck with your neighbors, remember, you may still have to live with them after the lawsuit, so try not to burn any bridges.

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