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Selling Home, Noisy Neighbor

Discussion in 'Buying & Selling a Home or Residence' started by StanD, Jan 29, 2021.

  1. StanD

    StanD Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    California
    We are selling our home after retirement to move out of state.

    Behind us is a rental with an occupant that installs car stereos in his driveway. He is often booming music that rattles our windows and often wakes us as he can do this at any time during the day or night. He has been in the place for about two weeks. The previous tenants were evicted for loud fighting but none of the neighbors seem to be bothered by the music. Or at least they won't confront him. He does dress like a gangster but he's never been verbally abusive to us.

    We've asked him to stop and he will apologize, stop the music and then a little later, start back up. In the evening if he sees our porch light go on he stops as he knows we are on the way to talk to him.

    The landlord is unresponsive, the police are unresponsive.

    Part of our concern is that if this were to happen during a showing, we would likely lose an opportunity to sell. If that were to happen, Is there recourse against the landlord? Would a letter from an attorney likely help?

    The other concern is what type of disclosure are we obligated to make to potential buyers? We have not brought this up to our agent yet as we are dragging our feet a little to stay in our home till we can get COVID vaccines. And to be honest, she just had her first child and is very distracted.

    TIA
     
  2. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    No.

    Probably not. How about a complaint to the city code department. He may be violating some city ordinance running a business like that where he lives.

    Here is the CA disclosure statute. I don't have time to wade through all of it, so make sure you study it carefully.

    Codes Display Text.

    The format for the disclosure statement starts on Page 3 of the following guide. Read that carefully too.

    https://dre.ca.gov/files/pdf/re6.pdf

    See question C11 on Page 6. Looks like you will have to disclose the noisy nuisance neighbor after all.
     
  3. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    The problem is with the tenant, not the landlord, but there is no reason why you can't frequently complain the landlord with hopes he will deal with the tenant so he won't have to hear from you about it.
    Your city or county likely has a loud noise /nuisance ordinance. Find it, then make some noise of your own to get it enforced. Police will see it as petty, but they certainly can enforce an ordinance if it is being violated.
    If they continue to refuse then you have options to escalate your complaint through the department or to your city.
     
    Red Kayak likes this.
  4. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    I disagree with Jack's flat answer of "no" to this question. It might be possible to hold the landlord liable for this if the actions of the tenant rise to the level of being a nuisance under California law. Even then, the circumstances in which the landlord would be liable for the tenant's conduct are very limited. The general rule in California is that a landlord is not liable for the nuisances that his tenant creates after the time the lease is created unless the landlord himself either participates in the nuisance or permits (i.e. has given the tenant permission) for the nuisance to occur.

    However, there are exceptions to that. One of them is where the landlord has knowledge of the nuisance and renews the lease after that knowledge. And another is where the landlord has knowledge of harm from the nuisance and has the ability to act to remedy that harm but fails to do so.

    There was a case in which a neighbor alleged that the tenant's dog was running around defecating and urinating on neighboring properties and one of the claims against the landlord was founded in negligence. Assuming that the dog was creating a nuisance, the court still held for the landlord since the HOA had not proved any of the exceptions above applied. Specifically, the California appeals court said:

    Assuming arguendo that evidence Kiymaz allowed the dog to run off-leash and urinate and defecate in the common areas would support an inference that the dog's behavior interfered with plaintiff's use and enjoyment of her property,6 Brown, as the landlord, would not, as a general rule, be liable for a nuisance created by his tenant after the premises are let. Generally, “a landlord is not responsible to other parties for the misconduct or injurious acts of his tenant to whom his estate has been leased for a lawful and proper **51 purpose when there is no nuisance ... at the time of the leasing.” (Anderson v. Souza (1952) 38 Cal.2d 825, 831, 243 P.2d 497; see also Napolin v. Hotel Rose (1955) 137 Cal.App.2d 701, 706, 290 P.2d 925; Mundt v. Nowlin (1941) 44 Cal.App.2d 414, 415–416, 112 P.2d 782.) In Kalis v. Shattuck (1886) 69 Cal. 593, 11 P. 346, the court held: “ ‘To bring liability home to the owner of real property ... the nuisance must be one which is in its very essence and nature a nuisance at the time of the letting, and not something which is capable of being thereafter rendered a nuisance by the tenant.’ ” (Id. at p. 597, 11 P. 346.) Limited exceptions to the general rule of nonliability may hold the landlord responsible where the landlord “participated in the wrongful act by authorizing or permitting it to be done” (id. at p. 600, 11 P. 346), or where the landlord failed to conduct a reasonable inspection of the premises before renewing a lease (Burroughs v. Ben's Auto Park, Inc. (1945) 27 Cal.2d 449, 453–454, 164 P.2d 897). These long-established limitations *1374 on imposition of liability on the lessor for a nuisance created by the lessee continue to be recognized in modern cases that require, at least, a showing of the landlord's knowledge of the hazard, and ability to prevent the harm. (Resolution Trust Corp. v. Rossmoor Corp. (1995) 34 Cal.App.4th 93, 100, 40 Cal.Rptr.2d 328; see also Donchin, supra, 34 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1838–1839, 41 Cal.Rptr.2d 192; Uccello, supra, 44 Cal.App.3d at p. 514, 118 Cal.Rptr. 741.)

    No triable issue of fact existed as to any exception to the general rule of nonliability. Plaintiff did not submit any evidence that Brown authorized or participated in Kiymaz's allowing the dog to run off-leash or to defecate and urinate in the public areas. The exception regarding failure to inspect was inapplicable since there was no allegation or evidence that a lease was renewed after Kiymaz created the nuisance. The final exception requires a showing of the landlord's negligence based on knowledge of the hazard, and ability to prevent the harm. Yet, for the reasons we have already stated with respect to the cause of action for premises liability and negligence, plaintiff failed to create a triable issue of fact that Brown even had knowledge of the dog's dangerous propensities or of the behavior alleged to constitute a nuisance.

    Chee v. Amanda Goldt Prop. Mgmt., 143 Cal. App. 4th 1360, 1373–74, 50 Cal. Rptr. 3d 40, 50–51 (2006).

    As to that last exception, I think it might be argued that the landlord once he has knowledge of a nuisance like this has the power to remedy it because California statute now has a provision in it that allows a landlord to terminate a lease with 3 days notice when the tenant is creating a nuisance. See California Code of Civil Procedure section 1161(4). I find no case law yet though in which that argument was made so I have no idea how that might turn out should you wish to try that. It'd be easier if you could prove that the landlord renewed the lease with the tenant after you had made the landlord aware of the nuisance, though. And, of course, you have to prove the tenant's actions met the definition of nuisance under California law to even have a shot there. You might want to discuss whether you may have a decent shot to win a claim against the landlord on this with a California civil litigation attorney.

    Of course, if the tenant is causing a nuisance he himself is liable for harm caused by that nuisance.
     
  5. StanD

    StanD Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you all for the feedback it is very helpful.

    "Pestering" (my word) the landlord may be worth a try. She does own a lot of rentals and while she never returned any of our calls or emails on the previous tenant, she did evict them. But that was probably because the cops were there all the time.

    My wife did overhear a phone conversation one of the tenants there had. Apparently the landlord doesn't screen tenants, doesn't repair of clean units when people move and only takes cash. The guy speaking rents the garage while the noisy guy rents the house. Not sure how that looks exactly, it's just what the wife heard. She also heard that they were going to pour concrete over the yard to have more parking for the business. We may have some code issues there to help as well as him running the business out of the house.

    I'll look into the info Tax Counsel posted a little more in depth, thanks for that.

    For the noise ordinance, the cops won't even come. In fact they told us not to confront him but then they won't respond. And if they did, he would have likely turned it down by then. It's almost like he blasts it long enough to wake everyone up then he turns it off again before any cops could arrive. Then 30 minutes later, lather, rinse, repeat.

    If anyone has any other input, I am all ears.

    Thanks, I appreciate your time.
     
  6. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    I think looking up city codes and filing a complaint that way may be your best bet.

    Unless you want to hire a lawyer and engage in a private nuisance lawsuit on your own.
     
  7. StanD

    StanD Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Ya, don't want to go that route, yet.
    Thanks
     
  8. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    If your city has an ordinabce/compliance officer then that is who you should cigar, otherwise the local police enforce the ordinance.
    If they fail to address the issue then you make a formal complaint to the department or city council every single time and list all the times they failed to act.
    Is their job. It may be a low priority to them, but it is their job.
     
  9. welkin

    welkin Active Member

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    Noise ordinances are usually part of the zoning code. Call your zoning compliance official.
     
  10. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    "Cigar"?
     
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  11. StanD

    StanD Law Topic Starter New Member

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    He's going to go far. (Obscure Pink Floyd reference) :)
     
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  12. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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  13. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    Better than a Bill Clinton reference. :eek:
     
  14. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    But not as good as a Monty Python reference. :D
     
  15. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    You could offer your neighbor a small amount of cash to keep the music down for certain time periods (when you're having the showing(s)). Of course, regardless of whether there is noise at the showings, you are going to have to disclose the noise problem prior to the sale...
     
  16. StanD

    StanD Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Just a follow up as I assume most posters disappear without such an update.

    I had sent some emails out to various city officials, including the police department and my county supervisor's office. I only received a reply from a "neighborhood rep". We conversed a bit and then she forwarded the email to someone who made things happen.

    The PD is handling it and seem intent on solving it. I am greatly encouraged and us neighbors are back to getting a full nights sleep. The slumlord doesn't care about the issue but this is a start.

    Thanks to all who offered advise. I appreciate your expertise and time.
     
  17. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    You're right. We don't often get to see progress reports. Thanks, and let us know when the guy is shut down.
     
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  18. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    @StanD Thanks for following up. It's really useful and helpful to see such progress reports. Wishing you the best of luck.
     

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