How do I get my neighbors to clean up their yard

Dear Liz,
My neighbors are nice people but they seem to have absolutely no pride in their property. Their yard could easily be confused for the town dump and is littered with two broken down cars, a ton of plastic yard toys for kids that I have never once seen any child actually play with, and honest to God, trash. It is such an eyesore. How do I tell them to clean up their junk without offending them?
– Mr. Clean

Dear Mr. Clean,

Oh, yikes. Having a neighbor with an eyesore house or yard is not good for a few reasons. First, it can bring your property value down. In 2013, Richard L. Borges II, the president at the time of the Appraisal Institute told the New York Times that  “When calculating the value of a property, an appraiser also factors in surrounding conditions. Neighborhood nuisances like an overgrown yard or a persistent odor could in some cases bring down the value of adjacent homes by 5 to 10 percent.”

It can also be unsafe. If there is trash being left out that could attract wild animals. Broken down cars could be leaking dangerous fluids into the ground. And if there are kids around all of this junk the risk of injury and accidents could be heightened.

All that is to say that I think you are correct to be concerned about the condition of your neighbor’s property. Here are a few ways you can tackle this problem:

  1. If you are on friendly terms with your neighbor then have a frank conversation with them about the problem. They may not fully understand why the condition of their yard is a concern.
  2. You could even offer to help clean up the yard. It may just be that they honestly don’t know what to do with all that junk. The cars could be scrapped for metal (the metal scrappers will even come and pick up the offending vehicles), the yard toys could be sold in a yard sale, and maybe even rolling up some sleeves and helping to pick up the trash. You never know, they might just need some friendly help.
  3. If you try those options and they don’t seem to be working then you could call your town officials and ask them about local ordinances, ask for advice, or even ask them to get involved. They may have had other complaints about this same property or others like it in the same town and may have good tips on how to approach the situation.

Whatever you choose to do, be kind and thoughtful in how to approach your neighbors.

Good luck!

~ Liz

If you have a question for Dear Liz and her team of experts just drop us an email at