Forum Archives

Return to Forum List

Neighbor clutter issue How do I confront?

You are not logged in. Login here or register.

IrishGirlVA posted 7/28/2014 10:46 AM

I live alone in a modest 3 bedroom home on a quiet residential street filled with middle class, hard working families. We do not have a home owners association but practically all of us take pride in our yards. No trash lingering, lawns cut, hedges trimmed, flowers planted, etc.

The woman who lives across the street from me has 4 children ranging in ages of 7 years to 16 years old. She is separated from her husband but he is there practically every afternoon hanging out with the kids. Her and I will occasionally talk on my porch while drinking a beer or glass of wine. She is very sweet but has low self esteem and takes practically everything personally.

She has a cape cod style house with a full front porch. Her porch is always cluttered with kid stuff, which is fine, but it has also housed a broken kitchen stove for the past year. I havent said anything about the stove because it barely comes above the porch railing so its hard to see unless you are looking for it. But the fact that I know it is there, I see it all the time! But the other day I came home from work and backed into my driveway. When I looked across the street I noticed more shit has been dumped on the porch. A stained mattress, some miscellaneous pieces of wood, an interior door and cardboard boxes. All of this is literally up against the windows and looks freaking terrible! Oh, and lets not even discuss the ONE shutter that is painted a completely different color from the others.

But just like the stove, I am afraid this new crap wont be leaving the front porch anytime soon. If ever!

I know she has financial problems but Im SOOOO pissed off this crap is piling up. Im even embarrassed to have family and friends over because it makes it look as if I am living in some wrong side of the tracks community. I know that sounds terrible but thats how I feel.

I, and all my other neighbors, work hard to keep our homes looking nice but that one person who lives directly across the street has to ruin it. I like to sit on my front porch sometimes but I dont anymore because I just get pissed off.

I need to say something but not sure how to put it eloquently enough without hurting her fragile feelings. Also, I do want to keep things friendly between us.

As a last resort, I am willing to rent a van or trailer if she is willing to get help discarding this crap but Id rather not. My mom is coming to visit in September and I just dont want her to see this stuff.

Anyone else have to deal with something like this?

Williesmom posted 7/28/2014 10:59 AM

I'm sure she's overwhelmed. Maybe she doesn't know how to get rid of the stuff.

In my area, if you call a "junk man", they'll come and haul stoves away at no charge. I would casually mention that you're having some stuff hauled away, and ask if she would like to have the stove removed.

If that works, you can approach the other stuff.

TrulyReconciled posted 7/28/2014 11:18 AM

I would ask her if she needs the name of a company that will "take unwanted stuff away" (you just happen to have this handy, maybe even a business card) and if she doesn't take a hint it's time to call the local health dept. or other town administrator to see if some light enforcement (or inference thereof) would help.

[This message edited by TrulyReconciled at 2:39 PM, July 28th (Monday)]

IrishGirlVA posted 7/28/2014 12:18 PM

Thank you for your suggestions!

I wish I had large stuff in my house that needed to be hauled away because that would be the perfect cover by asking if she wants to piggy back on my dump run.

I just went to my county ordinance website and there is a form I can fill out that will allow me to input her address and what ordinance she is violating. Even though these things are "stored" on her porch, I have to believe this can be considered trash. Right?

My only fear is that the county will not consider it a violation which will leave me having to talk to her. Then she will know I am the one who filed the complaint. Grrrrr!

I know she is very overwhelmed with life and that is why I don't want to make this contentious. And I really do like her. She's good people. However, her estranged husband seems to have a lot of time on his hands and has family/friends that can help. Honestly, all this stuff can fit into one pick up and the county dump is not that far away.

I'm going to give it another day or two to think about. But something needs to be done. Every day that passes I get more and more resentful.


StrongerOne posted 7/28/2014 13:07 PM

Really, IrishGirl? You can barely see the stove, but it bugs you so much that you want to report her? How long has the other stuff been there -- a week? five months? A woman separated from a lazy-ass husband with four kids...Really?

Why don't you say this to her: Neighbor, I see you have some old stuff on the porch. Can I help you move it? I have a pickup / have a friend with a pickup / other neighbor has a pickup.

Instead of getting all shivery about the one shutter painted a different color.

I know this sounds snarky, but I feel angry for *her*, being in such a wretched position, which is only being made worse by neighbors looking down their nose at her. Give her a hand instead of a slap.

Aubrie posted 7/28/2014 14:09 PM

Huh. Guess I know what my neighbors think about the stuff I need to have removed but I am not strong enough to do, nor has my husband had half a day to do it himself. QS and I have a healthy dynamic going. Yet the items remain due to other reasons. It's on our property. And it's not hurting anyone. We will get to it when we can. We're doing the best we can. The neighbors can suck it. *shrug*

If my neighbors have that much of a problem with it that they want to report me (Seriously? They have much bigger issues to deal with than front porch clutter and mismatched shutters) then they are more than welcome to take it upon themselves and dispose of it.

It probably bugs your neighbor too. But the reasons why it stays are most likely not so black and white. She probably doesn't feel comfortable asking her stbx to move it. Maybe she has and he's a douche. Maybe she's asked others to help and they stiff her. Who knows. Maybe when she reaches for the phone to call someone to help her, one of the kids has a crisis, thus side lining the issue.

If you're that bent out of shape about it, why don't you move it yourself? But be aware. She is already stressed and overwhelmed. You could embarrass or insult her.

TrulyReconciled posted 7/28/2014 14:25 PM

That's pretty judgmental, StrongerOne. I grew up in VA and can tell you there are many places where appliances might be OK on a porch for awhile (a year???) and many places where that's NOT OK, if not actually against local ordinances and codes. Community standards vary and all that.

I agree on showing helpfulness, kindness and empathy to a neighbor, but no one forced her to get married to a lazy man who "hangs out" but doesn't take responsibility for their house and no one forced her to have 4 children. Those were personal choices.

By the way, it may come as a surprise to some, but children aged 7-16 can actually do these things around a house called "chores" but the prerequisite is something called "good parenting," which along with personal responsibility appears to be some kind of lost archaic art today.

She can choose any lifestyle she wants for the interior of her house, subject to health department rules, which by the way WILL step in and condemn the house if they go below a certain standard and involve rodents.

The community has a reasonable interest in her keeping a certain minimum standard with regard to exterior appearance. In your case it's not "looking down your nose" but rather what you have to look at across the street.

[This message edited by TrulyReconciled at 3:32 PM, July 28th (Monday)]

SpecialK posted 7/28/2014 17:12 PM

If you are close enough to sit on your porch and drink wine, you should be able to address the problem. Just ask her what she plans on doing with the stuff. If she indicates she wants to trash it but needs help, offer you help. If she is hoarding it, you may want to say in a respectful way, that she might want to move it to a storage shed or something like that. I bet she is just overwhelmed with life and this is just not a priority to her. Or maybe she is trying to make a statement to her ex or the older kids to get off their asses and help! You won't know until you TALK to her........

Jeaniegirl posted 7/28/2014 17:16 PM

Ask her if she needs help getting rid of the stuff and express concern she will get ticketed for it ... and then offer to help. Maybe even organize other neighbors to help her spiff up the place.

rainagain posted 7/28/2014 19:32 PM

I agree that offering help is the way to go. You wouldn't be worried about what to do if you didn't care about her situation. You're not judging her by wanting it cleaned up.

It could be depression that is playing a part in this too.

I chose a husband that didn't care, my choice and that choice I made along with others on this journey, has placed my children and I in some very tough situations, but I'd like to think if I was having a hard time someone would offer help or have compassion for me. When people have done this rather than judging - even if I haven't accepted the help - the compassion has helped me to carry on.

positively4thst posted 7/28/2014 21:26 PM

Sounds like she needs a good friend like you! Don't report her to the authorities, find your voice and speak gently to her. Maybe another porch chat with wine or iced tea and just gently throw it out there that you don't know how she manages it all(!) but you have a truck or know someone who does and you can help her carry away the stuff on the porch. Then maybe segue into how fun it would be to gussy up her porch!! Throw a few ideas out and suggest you go yard saleing with coffee for bargains, maybe help her plant some window boxes or offer to do it for her. She has waaay too much on her plate to even notice what is on her porch. Reach out and be a good neighbor. I know, easier said than done but give it a shot!

yewtree posted 7/28/2014 22:07 PM

^^^^^^^^^this!!!! What a great positive approach! She probably needs the friendship and would appreciate the help. Sometimes we walk past the weed or the clutter so long that we don't see it anymore. Rather than beat her down further, offer some help!

Return to Forum List

© 2002-2018 ®. All Rights Reserved.     Privacy Policy