Semi-Detached House… Need to Know My Rights

I own a semi detached house and on the detached side of the home, there is an open lot owned by the neighbors to the right of it. So my house borders one side of the empty lot and their house the other side. They have tons and tons of garbage littered throughout the lot, and have for years. They clean it up occasionally, but never removing all the junk. I happened to look outside this evening and they’ve decided to go on one of their cleaning jaunts, and have HUGE piles of debris and garbage piled 6+ feet high and have it all leaning on/resting on my building. I realize my property ends at the side of my building, BUT I don’t understand how its legal for them to have all this junk piled up against my property. I just spent thousands on repairing and fixing the side of my home in the end of 2009. All this debris brings bugs, rodents, not to mention all the moisture thats being trapped between their garbage and the wall of my building. Is there anything I can do?

9 Replies

  1. Call 311 and they will take the complaint. Don’t leave your name (or the angry neighbors will retaliate), but get the case number so you can check on it.

  2. This doesn’t really answer your question but I have a client looking to purchase a lot and build a tasteful home for his own use. If you’d like email me at and let me know the address of the lot…maybe he can convince the owner’s to sell?

  3. By any chance do you live around between 3rd and 4th ave near the F line? I saw the garbage/debris spread out before it was organized into piles a few weeks ago. I was shocked to see it organized and not disposed of by the owner. I’ll bet all those stray cats live in around that garbage.

  4. wow. I thought I sleep-wrote this in a fever dream!
    Same situation here, with less of the ‘leaning on my building’ issue.

    So yeah, what is your relationship? My crazy semi-hoarder neighbor is nice, so I let most things slide. ‘Whatchagunnado’. But I call him on stuff when it’s beyond ridiculous. If you have no relationship, start one. If that goes bad or if it’s already bad, call 311 immediately.

  5. The good news is that in NYC garbage, debris and even weeds are not allowed anywhere on an empty lot.

    Your two options are:
    – Convince the owners to clean up properly
    – Call the city and “report them”

    If you call 311, the city will (eventually) fine them + violation or will send a team to clean it up and then send the bill (1-2k) to the land owner.

    Because the people who did the cleaning are probably not the owners themselves, your best option might be to contact the owners directly and let them know that the cleaners didn’t do the job properly.

    good luck

  6. Firstly, anything actually leaning on your building should be “launched” back into their portion. You say ” I happened to look outside this evening and they’ve decided to go on one of their cleaning jaunts, and have HUGE piles of debris and garbage piled 6+ feet high and have it all leaning on/resting on my building”. This is an indication of 2 things; #1 the type of low lifes that they are AND #2 the respect they have for you,namely, zero. We have to get over this Mary Poppins mentality and fight fire with fire. This is not to suggest that you go looking for trouble but your very question shows that you are too meek. These people have OBVIOUSLY no regard for you so the answer is simple: RECIPROCATE AND STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS!

  7. I have approached them in the past and unfortunately we don’t have a great relationship. They have absolutely no respect for other people’s property. I had hoped that this situation wouldn’t occur again, since everything was moved when the work was performed on the outside of my building.(My contractors even offered to clear it for them, at a very minimal charge)

    It just seems like they amass massive amounts of garbage and debris, and instead of cleaning it up they move it around, literally from one place to another. They have everything from old wood, pieces of old toilets, gut renovation debris, cans and bottles, bricks and who knows what else in these piles. They have their own backyard, as well as this 18×100 lot, so there is NO reason to have moved all this debris and garbage to the side of my house, its not lack of space. I’m not the type of person that wants to create issues for other people, but enough is enough.

    In the past when I’ve approached them about this type of situation, I’ve been given all types of answers ranging from, “We’re not sure if we’re the owners of the property anymore so we cant spend money to clear it.”, to “We can’t afford to do anything about it now.” etc etc.

    How much does a few boxes of contractor bags and some elbow grease cost?

    I’m worried about straining an already very strained contentious relationship by calling and complaining about them, but maybe that is the only choice.

  8. Ditto. Call 311; give the complaint number to the local community board; ask them to pressure the department of health to inspect.

  9. Have you asked them to move it? After that I’d get in touch w/ your Community Board. If your relationship w/ them is poor, phone 311 & report them to Environmental Control.