Michael Samuels provides legal services to FSBO and other real estate clients in Cincinnati and throughout Ohio.

How to spot bad neighbors before you buy a home

On Behalf of | Feb 12, 2024 | Real Estate Law

It seems like the space between people and their neighbors is getting smaller all the time. Even people in single-family homes can easily find themselves in misery over a neighbor’s loud music, rowdy children and lack of respect for boundaries (property and otherwise). 

This isn’t limited to condos where people are living on top of or across the hall from each other or neighborhoods where homeowners share a wall or row of hedges. Homeowners in upscale neighborhoods have taken legal action over homes listed on Airbnb that have become known as “party houses” – ruining the peace and quiet they pay a lot of money for.

If you’re considering buying a home, how do you know if there are noisy or otherwise troublesome neighbors? Don’t count on that being disclosed by the current owners. Ohio law requires sellers to disclose a number of issues, but most pertain to the property itself. That means there likely won’t be any consequences for not disclosing a bad neighbor. They can always say they never noticed or weren’t bothered by them.

You’ll need to do your own research

That means you’ll likely need to do your own due diligence. Your real estate agent can help. For example, have there been any noise complaints or police reports filed by the homeowner against any of their neighbors (or vice versa)? If you have a next door neighbor who complains every time you use your pool, that could be a problem.

Take some drives around the neighborhood at different times of the day and night and on the weekend as well as a weekday. Do you notice any of the following?

  • Homes and yards that are poorly maintained (like peeling paint, unmowed lawns and Christmas decorations during the summer)
  • Multiple properties that seem to be vacant or for sale
  • A heavy police presence
  • Dogs running loose
  • Loud music you can hear from the street
  • Items on lawns that don’t belong there (furniture, appliances, vehicles, etc.)

There’s a lot that you can research as well, like the turnover rate of homes, how many are in foreclosure, crime statistics, registered sex offenders and planned zoning changes.

Legal guidance can always be beneficial when making such a significant purchase as a home. If you learn after the fact that the previous owners or their agent withheld information that should have been disclosed, find out what legal options you have for seeking justice and compensation.