Ask Erin: Blocking view of unslightly home. | Kitsap Week

Ask Erin is a feature of Kitsap Week. Have a question? Write Ask Erin, Kitsap Week, P.O. Box 278, Poulsbo, WA 98370 or email - Richard Walker
Ask Erin is a feature of Kitsap Week. Have a question? Write Ask Erin, Kitsap Week, P.O. Box 278, Poulsbo, WA 98370 or email
— image credit: Richard Walker

Dear Erin,

We have a neighbor who lives behind us whose house is beyond disgraceful. Unfortunately, our house looks directly onto the deplorable property.

The backs of drapes are literally never opened, water stained and hanging askew. The house paint is chipping and they rarely mow their lawn.

When we purchased this house 23 years ago, there was a wall of cedar trees providing privacy. Before we moved in, the cedar trees had been cut down by this back neighbor. She was widowed and thought it was safer for neighbors to be able to see each other.

Over the years, this elderly woman was very neighborly and asked about every member of our family. She held pizza parties for our son as he grew up.  She always remembered his birthday with a small gift.

This neighbor died about three years ago. Before her death, her daughter and son-in-law moved in with her. Very little has been done to this house in 22 years. Now they have a man renting a room in their basement. Sometimes he drives the car on the lawn around to the basement entrance.

We hope to move to a smaller home soon. We are concerned the condition of our neighbor’s home will affect our resale value. Most importantly, will a family want our home with a man next door living in the basement who drives his car on the lawn?

We are torn between faithfulness to neighbors and conscientious care of our investment for retirement.

Are we being selfish if we construct a fence between the houses?

On the fence

Dear On the Fence,

You haven’t painted a very pretty picture.

Unless the renter’s car is a golf cart, continually driving a car onto the yard can damage sewer and septic pipes. Replacing pipes can be costly. Your neighbors may not be aware of this consequence. If you let them know of this possible outcome, it may nip the lawn-driving in the bud.

I understand why you want to shield your view of the neighbor’s house and a fence would be the quickest remedy. Or what about some fast-growing evergreen plants or trees? Dense shrubbery such as laurels provide a thick screen, while giving your yard some nice color and texture. Or maybe combination of fencing and plants, like a trellis? A local nursery can provide good options. Bring in photos of the area you wish to cover so the specialists have an idea of your goal.

You have every right to protect your investment, just like your neighbors have the right to have water stained curtains.

And while it sounds like you had a nice relationship with the elderly woman, you shouldn’t let your past friendship ruin the future sale of your home.

— Ask Erin is a feature of Kitsap Week. Have a question? Write Ask Erin, Kitsap Week, P.O. Box 278, Poulsbo 98370 or email

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