Neighbors – These Days

I live in a deed restricted community of about 200 houses about 35 miles north of Tampa, FL, in the $100,000 to $200,000 range, built around 1990. The yearly fee we homeowners pay is partly used for a landscaping company’s grooming around several ponds and for maintenance of our two electrical entrance signage areas. Our fees are also supposed to go for any legal action needed to collect any tardy or non-paid yearly dues. A couple years ago our homeowners’ board and members voted to resurface a portion of road that had gotten too badly potholed, added a beautiful fountain in one of the larger ponds, planted crepe myrtle trees in some common areas, etc. We used to receive a newsletter each month letting us all know what the board had been up to since the last one and I always volunteered to deliver that newsletter on my street.

Unfortunately, our most active board member moved away and for some reason the board lost its oomph and kind of fell apart. Now we get a newsletter once a year along with a yearly member’s meeting. Enforcement of the bylaws that kept our neighborhood looking nice, like lawns mowed and edged, trees and bushes trimmed, houses painted and roofs cleaned of algae, etc., have gotten lax and rentals have been allowed.

What’s happened is big companies or small groups of people like the “flippers” you see on TV are buying up houses and renting them to people who have no direct interest in this community. There is a county law that disallows cars to park on the street or on the lawns, for instance. The renters don’t care, so they do it anyway. And many renters are not taking care of the properties they live in. Those of us who have purchased homes here risk becoming “bad” neighbors if we say something. Many of us old timers are concerned about lower property values. Our homes are already almost thirty years old and many of us have remodeled insides and re-sodded outsides in order to maintain healthy values.

Directly next door to me is a group of unrelated people living in a single family dwelling in what they term a “blended family.” The problem is, I don’t see the same people all the time coming or going and there are multiple cars parked in the street at night, which is not allowed. When these people first arrived, I went over and introduced myself and I got first names of some of them, but no full names. They were very vague. I told them if they needed anything or needed help in any way, I’d be glad to do what I could. Most neighbors on my street know one-another, so this secretive behavior from them confused me.

This “family’s” house is on a corner, so the front and one side are very visible. The property was immaculate when they moved in and since then it has gone very quickly downhill. They don’t mow the lawn, edge it, take any care of the lawn, trees, bushes, and have left bright white sandbags left over from hurricane Irma outside along my side of their house along with a kayak (strictly a no-no according to our by-laws). I tried to tell them nicely, but they don’t care and they ignore all the rules.

Finally at the request of some of my other neighbors, I resorted to reporting them to the homeowners’ association board so a letter of encouragement could be sent to them. I had given them a copy of the by-laws when they moved in since they told me they had not seen them. The president of the board told me to just call our county code enforcement office. What used to be handled by the board is now expected to be handled by the citizenry of the neighborhood. I was concerned about retribution problems, but I waited until I saw mold appearing on the outside of their sunroom and the grass was two feet high and I saw a rat. It was time I did something.

Luckily the county was swift in acting and the people mowed today and a truck came and cut up all the dead tree branches and cleaned up the flower beds these neighbors let die from lack of water and care. So it took almost a year for these people to realize that they had some rules they had to follow or else fines would have to be paid. I’m just praying it doesn’t take that long for them to mow and clean up again.

I spent $3,000 on new sod just two years ago and I have a monthly service that keeps it healthy. I also have a regular man who mows my lawn, and edges and blows the grass off the street. I really don’t want these neighbor’s weeds to spread into my yard. Other homeowners feel the same way. I can’t understand why people don’t want to live in a neighborhood that looks nice. The whole neighborhood used to be really friendly, too. Now many of the long time neighbors are not happy with the renters and that causes tensions.

Anyone have a suggestion or solution? I’d really like to hear!!! The most logical is to forbid rentals, but I don’t think that’s possible.

 

 

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland. Join her here each 11th of the month.

11 Comments

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11 responses to “Neighbors – These Days

  1. What a hard situation to be in. I’m sorry other people’s poor behavior is affecting you and your property values. It sounds like you’ve already tried everything I might suggest. Maybe if they are reported often enough they will change their ways or move!

    • It certainly is a puzzle. I guess time will tell. If they continue the bad behavior, I’ll call code enforcement sooner. If they continue with the good behavior, I’ll compliment them on how lovely their efforts look. Thanks for your comment, though, Sherrie.

  2. Salustra

    Unfortunately that seems to be happening everywhere these days. We are having to go after our neighbor as he is now ruining our yard with the weeds and like you we pay to keep ours nice. Ours is only 5 yrs old and even w 3 car garages cars parked on street and some one hit our mail box last Sat night. Makes no sense to me either. In fact I who have no kids seem to be only car going 25 mph!

    Bad news though that Neighboor of your fits classic drug house description, be careful!

    • Salustra, so sorry you’ve had problems, too. I’ve been able to discourage one of our speeding neighbors by wearing my Sheriff’s uniform when he could see it (usually after I got off work and was crossing the street to my mailbox) Haha. Even though I was only a volunteer, I looked really official, but I’ve retired from that job now. Anyway, I’ve been watching carefully and the neighbors aren’t druggies, as far as I can figure, just odd relatives of the many owners. There have been children sometimes. One of the young gals living there is in her twenties and she was mowing yesterday and she looked like she was exhausted and it was killing her. The word “pansy” came to my mind. I’ll keep my eyes peeled. Thanks for your comment and possibly helpful advice. And I hope your neighbor moves and someone great moves in!!!

  3. Cheryl Hilzer

    It depends on what the CC&R’s say. Our. HOA will allow only one rental. Good luck!

    • Cheryl, it sounds like someone from your HOA has had experience with rentals and knew to leave that out of the by-laws when your neighborhood was established. Smart! Thanks for the good luck wishes and for reading and commenting.

  4. Makes me appreciate our HOA a little more. Thank you and good luck.

    • I’m glad, Sheila, that you have a good HOA, or at least a better one than mine. I guess things always can be worse, so it’s good when we can appreciate things that work or run smoothly. Thanks for telling me about your HOA and restoring my faith a little in some of today’s neighbors. I’m going to choose to believe my neighbors will change.

  5. Pat Gordon

    Coco, Your situation is much worse than mine. I am at a loss to offer you help. You’ve done all you could do. I live on the second floor of a two story condo, 4 units to each section. My downstairs neighbors are SLOBS! Their deck is always a mess. One day I “peeked” into their kitchen window as I was going upstairs to my place and noticed the counter was an abominable mess! They are also heavy smokers and sit outside smoking. Obviously, they have no consideration for their 10 year old daughter who will probably lose her parents to lung cancer, Would like to report their messiness to our Board which is obvious since they are on the first floor. But I fear my comments may be misconstrued and I will then have to endure nasty neighbors. Their mess brings down the value of our condos.
    Pat

    • Pat, I don’t agree. I think your situation is worse. However, what to do is the problem. Since I wrote my blog (mainly just to get this off my chest) my neighbors have dug up their former flower beds and have mulch sitting in bags next to the bed. Looks like they may do something constructive there. What a surprise!! We’ll see, but it seems promising.
      As for your situation, there may be a sweet way to express what you feel either to the board or the actual neighbors. Pretend the people below you are a “crippled and a little ditzy elderly lady.” How might you approach her, instead of the inconsiderates who are there now? I do this kind of thinking a lot and often come up with a solution. Let me know if you think of anything. If not, I may be able to think of something.

  6. Pat Gordon

    Points well taken, Coco. I’ve encountered a few nasty people in my life (haven’t we all) and I can’t go down that road again.

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