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My Neighbor Hits Golf Balls Into My House—What Should I Do?

My Neighbor Hits Golf Balls Into My House—What Should I Do?

Dear Newsweek, we have a horrible neighbor that no one likes. He is quick to call the city on others, yet he violates city code weekly.

My problem is he hits his golf balls from his garden across the street into my yard. I literally have two large buckets of his balls. About five years ago, I had a broken window and the roofer thought it was a golf ball but I thought it was hail, so they fixed the window along with my roof and shutter damage. I eventually figured out it was a golf ball and who the culprit was—my new neighbor.

I have also put a “No Trespassing” sign in my yard, as he comes over sometimes to retrieve his balls. He and the golf balls both constitute trespass. I am tired of having to get off the mower to pick up his balls. Heaven forbid, I hit one and sail it into my own window.

He is a real nuisance. I am sick of playing games with this idiot, but I know it would only go on deaf ears if I tried to talk to him.

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Stock image of neighbors arguing. The woman is fed up with her neighbor hitting his golf balls into her garden.
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This man mows his yard and shoots the grass clippings into the street. He puts his tree limbs for bulk pick-up in the street rather than in his yard. He puts his trash, which is supposed to be in front of his home, in his side yard, so during storms his garbage ends up in my flower beds. It’s even broken my rain gauge before.

The icing on the cake was when he put his used mattress for bulk pick-up in the street. We called the city. The city guy comes out and is talking to him and is pointing to his garage (apparently telling him to put it in his garage until the day before pickup). I see my neighbor holding his back apparently telling the city guy his back is too bad to do that—he was out staining his fence two days before.

He has a blatant disregard for the law and common courtesy to his neighbors. Plenty of other stories from other neighbors are not being shared. Any ideas on how to deal with people that will not stop their obnoxious behavior and city code violations?

Pamela, Unknown

Newsweek’s “What Should I Do?” offers expert advice to readers. If you have a personal dilemma, let us know via life@newsweek.com. We can ask experts for advice on relationships, family, friends, money and work and your story could be featured on WSID at Newsweek.
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‘Forgiving People Is Not for Them, It’s Always for You’

Marni Goldman is a certified life coach and author of True to Myself.

A bad neighbor is a misfortune, as much as a good one is a great blessing. Living in close proximity with neighbors can be a challenge, especially in this situation.

When this incident first happened five years ago, there was immediate disdain, (and justifiably so) you now had property damage. The amount of contempt, and disgust that has escalated over the years is now becoming detrimental to your mental health.

His lawnmowing, his trash and the limbs from his trees are really inconsequential to your life. It takes more energy and effort to complain than it does to simply ignore. Life is too short to spend worrying and dwelling on the negative aspects of our neighbors.

The healthiest thing we can do for ourselves is channel all of that energy into our own inner peace. I know it is easier said than done. The pause before our
reaction can be life-changing. We choose to argue, we don’t have to. There is a chance for resolution.

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If ego can be put aside, and you can think with your soul, the entire dynamic can
change. For whatever reason, the man is reaching out for attention (by the display of antics) and you have become putty in his hands. For your sanity, and your sanity only, if you can come from a place of compassion and understand that he’s thriving for attention, it can be a game-changer.

There was mention that talking isn’t an option, but possibly if met with a soft tone, and communicating in a deep way of understanding one another’s feelings, there is a chance. The back-and-forth games are only turning an ugly situation uglier. Forgiving people is not for them, it’s always for you.

‘Consider Whether It Is Practical To Sue’

Evan Walker is an attorney specializing in personal injury and property damage based in San Diego, California.

I see two options with this set of facts: administration and litigation. First, administration. Review the applicable city or county code or municipal ordinances. Most have codes or ordinances that prohibit conduct that can be considered a “nuisance,” and almost all prohibit “trespassing.”

Report the conduct to the proper administration (usually code enforcement) and cite the applicable code or ordinance. Document the conduct (e.g., photograph it, provide invoices for repairs to damaged property). Hopefully, code enforcement will intervene and stop the conduct. Code enforcement, however, is unlikely to pay for the damages you suffered. This brings us to litigation.

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What this set of facts could give rise to is a cause of action for nuisance or trespass. Nuisance is a broad and arguably amorphous cause of action connected to property. A cause of action for nuisance can arise when someone does something that interferes with your right to use and enjoy your property. What is a nuisance is only limited by your imagination. For example, a barking dog, loud parties, tossing debris—almost anything can be considered a nuisance if it interferes with your right to use and enjoy your property.

Although trespass is a narrower idea than nuisance, it can still be widely applied. Trespass occurs when someone causes something to go onto your property, such as a neighbor’s leaky pool, tree branches or baseballs could be considered a trespass.

Even if there is a cause of action, you must consider whether it is practical to sue. Lawsuits take time and cost money (leaving aside the cost of attorney fees). If the damages for nuisance or trespass are not significant (whether damages are “significant” can be relative), then suing may not be practical from an economic sense.

Consider exploring option one. If that fails and if the damages are significant, consider option two.

Published: 2023-06-10 10:00:01

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