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Real Answers

July 24, 1994

Q.: My neighbor, a mechanic, always has cars parked in the driveway or street. I'm trying to sell my house and am concerned this will decrease the value of my property. What can I do?

A.: While it may not reduce the actual value, a cluttered landscape can detract from the positive aspects of your home. Take action by reviewing your local laws, which should be on file at the public library, county law library or City Hall.

For example, a typical "junk vehicle" ordinance requires any disabled car to either be enclosed or placed behind a fence. And most cities prohibit parking any vehicle on a city street too long--usually no more than 72 hours, according to attorney Cora Jordan in "Neighbor Law: Fences, Trees, Boundaries & Noise," Nolo Press, Berkeley, Calif., 1991.

It also may be worthwhile to check into local zoning ordinances. An operator of a home-based business usually is required to obtain a variance or permanent zoning change.

In addition, if the neighbor's repair work produces loud noises, he may be breaking local noise control ordinances, which are enforced by the police department.

"Once you have a copy of an ordinance that addresses the problem, your troubles may be almost over," Jordan writes. "The neighbor probably has no idea that what he is doing is actually against the law. In most cases, just presenting a copy to him will resolve the problem."

If the neighbor does not respond, report the violation to the appropriate authority.

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