I’m investigating how to deal with bad neighbors in foreclosed houses, something that I suspect is interesting more and more of us as this housing market continues to get worse.
The situation I’m looking at is a house in pre-foreclosure (meaning the owner hasn’t paid the mortgage for some time) with tenants that are causing problems in the neighborhood.
Here is a Cadillac that one neighbor saw dragging a garbage pile from the problem house out onto the city street, where it blocked traffic.
The next day, the trash pile triggered an accident. Seems like someone should be responsible, doesn’t it?
The problems range from dumping abandoned cars on the street to excessive noise, commercial activities not consistent with the residential character of the neighborhood, etc., etc.
The local authorities (this is in Los Angeles) are sympathetic but don’t seem to be able to take any action. In the meantime, the neighbors (including myself) are getting fed up.
So, what can we do, if anything?
Well, I’m looking at nuisance law as a start. Civil Code section 3479 defines nuisance as anything which is injurious to health, including but not limited to, the illegal sale of controlled substances, or is indecent of offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property, so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property.
A public nuisance is one which affects the entire community or any considerable number of persons. Every nuisance that isn’t public is a private nuisance. A civil action, meaning a lawsuit by private individuals, is available for either.
Violations of the planning code constitute a public nuisance. City & County of San Francisco v. Padilla (1972) 23 Cal.App.3d 388, 401.