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Dealing with Bad Neighbors at Your Howard County Rental Property

We have all had a bad neighbor or two who have driven us crazy in the past. Dealing with bad neighbors at your Howard County rental property can be even more frustrating. Terrible neighbors can affect a property’s desirability and make it extremely difficult to keep your unit filled.

Renters typically evaluate a potential property by more than just the price point and interior features. It even goes beyond amenities to include the property’s community and neighborhood. Just as the right price can make or break a signed lease, the right (or wrong) neighbors can mean the difference between rented or vacant!

Even the most beautiful, fairly priced property, managed by a top Howard County property manager can be a tough sell if the neighbors are undesirable.  While a landlord has some degree of control over their own tenants’ behavior, there is little that you can do to control the actions of the neighbors around the property.

Below are some common bad neighbor behaviors and tips on how to handle them!

#1 EXCESSIVE NOISE

Whether it is a feuding couple, a late-night party, or working with power tools all day, excessive noise from the neighbors can drive even the most reasonable tenant crazy. It can be hard for a landlord to discover noisy neighbors since most complaints come from late-night disturbances, which may result in a few annoying phone calls from your tenants.

  • SOLUTION 

The best remedy for loud neighbors to familiarize yourself with local noise ordinances, which put limitations on hours where noises above certain decibels are allowed. A call to the police to report noise violations can result in fines or tickets for the offender. If you have issues with noisy neighbors, remind them about the community restrictions and politely inform them that your tenants are encouraged to report excessive violations. 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.

A landlord can also take specific steps to minimize the effect of outside noise heard from within the rental property.  Make sure the caulking and weather stripping on windows is intact and creates a tight seal to reduce outside noise. You could also consider installing sound-reducing window treatments or dual pane windows to reduce the impact of exterior noise on your tenants.

#2 TERRIBLE PETS!!

An incessantly barking or aggressive dog can give the neighbors a lousy reputation and scare tenants away. Poorly behaved animals also fall into this category if they act menacing to your tenants, destroy any property, or the owners fail to pick up after their pets. Dealing with neighbor pets can be one of the most frustrating situations for a landlord who may lose perfectly qualified tenants who are not ok with the neighbor’s animal situation.

  • SOLUTION

Check with the city’s ordinance on animal behavior, which may have specific regulations about barking dogs and dangerous behavior. Give your tenants information on who they can contact to report any issues to local authorities. Another creative solution for attracting tenants that may be hesitant to live next to a neighbor with an annoying pet is to consider allowing pets at your rental property.  It can be difficult for renters with pets to find pet-friendly properties, so they may be more accepting of bad neighbors if they need to secure a rental that allows animals. A dog-owning renter may also be more tolerant of a neighbor’s dog because they have one of their own.

#3 RUNDOWN/CLUTTERED PROPERTY

Piles of trash, cluttered yards, broken down cars, overgrown landscapes – real estate eyesores that stand out are signs of a bad neighbor.  An unsightly yard or rundown home can bring down the property value of the whole neighborhood.  Even if your home is updated and well maintained, you could face a challenge when finding tenants that tolerate living in such an unattractive community.

  • SOLUTION

If a neighboring house near your rental property looks like it could drive potential tenants away due to its displeasing curb appeal, you should do your best to minimize its visibility from your property. Check with local city codes about fence heights and consider landscaping options that provide some privacy for your tenants that keep the unattractive property out of sight.

You can also check with your local ordinances about acceptable yard maintenance standards. Some cities have regulations about allowable grass height, trash or junk on the property, inoperable cars, outdoor storage rules, maintenance of dead trees or vegetation, etc.  Report any violations of city codes by the neighbors to help increase your property’s desirability.

You can pick your tenant for your Howard County rental property, but you can’t pick your neighbors!

Confronting a problem neighbor too often can create an angry situation for your tenants who need to deal with them every day.   A landlord faces further challenges when dealing with bad neighbors because having a good relationship with your neighbors can be one of the landlord’s greatest strengths.  Good relationships with the neighbors at your Howard County rental unit will help protect your investment. Your neighbors can be your eyes and ears for any lease violating behavior by your tenants and even give you a heads up if there is a maintenance emergency while your tenants are out of town.

Just as a bad neighbor can drive tenants away, a great neighbor can encourage great tenants to stick around.  Work towards building a great relationship with the neighbors through a friendly disposition, open communication, and positive interactions.  If you do need to confront a problem neighbor, approach the conversation rationally with problem-solving goals in mind rather than accusations.