Q: They say curb appeal can add up to 30% to a home’s market value. So how do I tell the family next door to please take care of their yard as it reflects on my property?
— Eyesore next door, Barrie, Ont.
Answer 1: Depends on your relationship with your neighbours. If you get along, you can always tell them what you are planning to do and ask them to make sure their place looks good as well. Explain to them that the better their place looks, the more money you will get when you sell, which only helps their bottom line (as it helps to increase the value of their home by upping the market value on the street).
If relations are not that good, then you could offer to do the work for them, or to pay for it. It benefits you, and they get a free spruce-up out of it. And if you don’t get along, or live beside one of those houses, then there is very little you can do. I had a listing once, in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood. It was a semi and in the house it was attached to was an elderly hoarder. Piles of stuff on the porch, rotten roof, you name it. All we could do was build a fence between the two homes so that it was less apparent (the fence helped block the view). A lot of people asked about the house next door and many were concerned about it. But, in the end, someone bought the semi that was listed for sale.
All this said, there’s not much that can legally be done. You can call the municipality and see if you can get the by-law office after them. They can ensure that lawns are maintained and that the house is safe. But this won’t happen overnight. For good or for bad, you can’t really sue people for being slobs.
Answer 2: I feel regardless how you tell your neighbour, they will get offended and may become a bigger nightmare when the showings are happening. They may not think their yard is a mess. I would ensure the curb appeal of your home looks great and you can take pictures from different angles that you don’t see the neighbours yard. If your home shows well and it’s in a good location and with the Toronto market being so competitive, I wouldn’t worry about your neighbours so much.
Aleksandra Oleksak is a sales representative for Sage Real Estate, buying, selling and renovating her way through one of the top cities to live in. She is a Torontonian who loves the city and is passionate about its real estate. When she’s not out in the real estate trenches making the real estate process for buyers and sellers fun and stress free, you can catch her on her snowboard exploring the world.
Answer 3: You can call your municipality’s by-law department, as most municipalities have by-laws dealing with property standards, which may or may not include obligations to cut grass, treat and control weeds etc.
Martin Rumack is a Toronto lawyer that specializes in residential real estate, commercial financing, estate planning, family law and civil litigation. He actively teaches credit courses at the Toronto and Brampton Real Estate Boards, and at realtor associations throughout southern Ontario.