He Said, She Said: Junky neighbor habits making home sale difficult for Soldier, Family Print E-mail
Wednesday, 05 August 2015
By Shaun and Pamela Collins
Special to GUIDON
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Several years ago my wife and I bought our first home. We have worked every summer making the outside of the home as beautiful as the inside.

Our home, located in a housing development, had several great neighbors, until last year. The man who moved in next to us doesn’t do a thing outside his home. He doesn’t mow his grass; limbs that fall out of the trees just lay there, and the mold is growing up the side of his home. I asked him about it, even offered to mow his yard, and he said God was his landscaper and said he didn’t feel it necessary to keep the outside of the home neat. So a year goes by and I just grit my teeth when I see the house, but this year it’s a different story. We need to sell our home, and the realtor told us that our neighbor’s place would probably keep us from getting a good price on our home. Now my neighbor’s lack of lawn maintenance is hitting my pocketbook. We’re not in the city, so we really have no recourse to have any government agency force them to clean up their lot. What can I do?

HE SAID:  As there is nothing you can do to “force” him to comply, it’s probably a good time to go have an honest conversation with him.  Explain that you are trying to sell your house and explain how difficult that will be based on what the real estate agents have told you.  Do not be judgmental or ugly, as he will likely dig in his heels to spite you.  

Rather, ask him for his permission to help God in his landscaping duties, while your house is on the market (as a favor to you). Tell him you will do the work yourself, or hire someone to do it and that you will only do it to his specifications.

I think most people would understand and be willing to allow you this temporary request.  However, that brings us to a greater conundrum. Let’s say for the sake of argument, he relents and allows you to clean up his yard, mow his lawn and make it look pretty … then someone buys it, only to learn they moved in next door to a guy who is going to give safe harbor to snakes, rats and lord knows what other kinds of critters. They will have to grit their teeth every time they come home, and there will be nothing they can do about it.  

Is your desire to make the extra money on your house worth deceiving the new buyer? You know he will go right back to how he is, how is that fair to them? I really wouldn’t want to be you in this situation, but I would have to say, even if you do get him to let you clean up his yard, you have a moral obligation to inform any prospective buyers that he will let his yard go. You will get a lot more people in the door if his yard is clean, but think how you would feel if you were not warned and bought the house.  

SHE SAID:  This is a tough situation. My suggestion would be to talk to other neighbors and see if they would consider pitching in to spruce up his yard.

Get as many people as possible to help out. Then re-approach the individual and explain to him that as much as you understand his yard is his business, it is affecting the esthetics of the neighborhood and impeding your ability to sell your house.

Offer again to help him clean up around his yard and mow. If this doesn’t work, check with the county and find out if there is anything you can do. When people ignore their grass and lawn for too long, it becomes a safety hazard. This may give you a reason to seek help from the county.  

Finally, since your house is on the market, you could ask your real estate agent if she has any suggestions. I’m sure they have dealt with this type of issue in the past, and she may have ideas that haven’t been considered.  

Good luck.

(Editor’s note: Shaun and Pamela Collins were both career Soldiers with a combined history of military service spanning over a half of a century. They have been where you are, so if you are facing a difficult situation, ask them. Send your question to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it This column and other original content from Mr. and Mrs. Collins can be found at http://militarysuccessnetwork.com. The opinions expressed are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office or the GUIDON.)
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 19 August 2015 )