Annoyed Neighbor, Unkempt Home

By Amy Dickinson | August 25th, 2023

Advice for improving the neighborhood

house porch peeling paint, credit Konstantin Pukhov. An annoyed neighbor is tired of an unkempt house and lawn. See what “Ask Amy” advises for improving the neighborhood.

Tired of an unkempt house and lawn, an annoyed neighbor reaches out to advice columnist Amy Dickinson. See what “Ask Amy” advises for improving the neighborhood.

Dear Amy:

I live in an affluent neighborhood of expensive, although older homes. The vast majority of homes are very well-maintained and manicured. Many have had major remodels to look like brand-new homes.

However, there are a couple of homes that are in serious need of a facelift! One home in particular is a complete eyesore.

Although it is worth over a couple million dollars, the lawn is dead, there are high weeds where the lawn should be, paint doesn’t match and/or is faded in places, wood facia is rotting, along with other significant cosmetic problems.

There do not seem to be any code violations that would get the city involved.

I am not aware of the owner’s financial situation, but they have been there long enough where there should be significant equity to refinance and pull out money for repairs – or sell and move to a less expensive home.

Other neighbors have left notes, to no avail.

Any suggestions on how to get this family to fix up their house, or even move?

– Frustrated Neighbor

Dear Frustrated:

It is so generous of you to provide such a detailed list of repairs that need to be made to this property! You’ve obviously inspected the property quite closely.

You’ve also extended your generous attitude toward these strangers by offering suggestions for how they might finance improvements to their property in order to meet your needs, including the idea of them moving.

What you haven’t done is offered to mow their lawn. Or offered to get a group of people together to help with some cosmetic repairs to the outside of their home (oh, the horror of faded paint!).

What a neighborhood! People leaving notes and developing repair punch lists and investment advice – and not one person finding out who these neighbors are and asking if they need a hand.

I suggest that you approach this by putting human values ahead of property values.

Changing your own orientation and approach should improve the neighborhood.

Related: “The Benefits of Native Species,” at Boomer Magazine

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart – ranging from accepting a new friend to dark family secrets and DNA surprises. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

©2023 by Amy Dickinson

Want to get even more life tips from Amy? Read more of her advice columns here!

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