A neighbor disturbing your peace doesn’t mean just loud annoying noise such as music blasting at odd hours, people partying, yelling and screaming, noisy tools, etc.
Light pollution can also be quite disturbing and annoying which may decrease your quality of life. Strong house lights, powerful yard lights, and LED security lights that turn on based on motion or stay on all night, all these light sources can ruin the enjoyment of your own house.
If you’re in this kind of situation, what should you do? In this guide, we will discuss some practical tips and other suggestions on how to deal with light pollution coming from your neighbor.
My neighbor’s lights are a nuisance. How to deal with it?
There are two basic approaches on how to deal with this issue; you can either confront the neighbor and hope for a civil solution or you can escalate it legally. Below we will talk about these scenarios.
Alert and talk with your neighbor about the issue
The first step should be to talk with your neighbor and express your concerns. Approach them nicely and in a friendly manner, and explain the situation without being irritated.
It’s quite common for neighbors not to realize that their lights are “leaking” and annoying the other neighbor. For example, they may not know that an LED porch light is shining directly into your living room, or that some other light is straight hitting the front door or your bedroom.
Usually, the lights are installed during the daytime and the neighbor may have never seen his lights from your property’s viewpoint.
Try to explain to them how the lights are making your house unlivable, how you can’t sleep, how difficult it is to relax. The tone should be friendly and in good spirit.
You can even invite him to your house to see the light pollution from your side. Chances are, your neighbor will understand you and reposition the light themselves or hire a contractor to fix the light “leaking”.
Most outdoor lights (such as the ones in the garage doors, porches, or around the paths) are equipped with special shades or shielding designed to block the light in certain directions.
The house owners need to adjust these shields to prevent the light from going in directions that may bother the neighbors.
The trick is not to see the shining bulb but just the light rays; the ground should be lit by the spotlight, but the bulb itself should be sort of hidden.
Most of the time the neighbor will understand the situation and you will solve the issue right there. However, if somehow, they are resistant or refuse to understand why the lights are such a nuisance for you, you may offer to split a contractor’s consultation fee which may avoid the cost of spending the big bucks in a lawsuit.
Yes, light pollution constitutes a legal nuisance
Equally as noisiness, light pollution is legally recognized as a “nuisance” by most legislation in the United States. By law, a nuisance is classified as a type of conduct that disturbs a neighbor’s user or enjoyment of property (such as a house).
For example, noise (let’s say blasting loud music) is a nuisance and many cities and towns have passed laws limiting the decibel levels and times when someone can play music loudly. If these limits are reached, then it’s considered a nuisance.
Not all the municipalities have specific laws about the light pollution issue, and yours doesn’t have one, you still can bring a lawsuit on nuisance common law.
If your neighbor doesn’t listen to your concerns and takes no action to remedy the lights’ brightness and positions, your next move should be to contact an attorney and have them send a demand letter.
A demand letter is a letter stating a legal claim and demanding that the recipient take or cease a certain action. Your attorney should outline the situation and what laws (local/state), or housing regulations are being violated.
Usually, attorney demand letters are quite “shaking” and may force the neighbor to take action before turning the whole situation into a lawsuit (which can get expensive and time-consuming for them). A demanding letter is like saying this issue is real and I’m serious to go all the way.
Contact the local municipality
Another suggestion is to contact your local municipality and express your concerns. There may be local house regulations that can be enforced by your local authorities without the need of escalating the situation legally.
Start by calling 311 or emailing your town officials and describe the problem you’re having with light pollution.
They may contact the other party, force them to adjust the lights; or simply ticket them, and so on. It all depends on your local regulations but it’s worth trying.
Suggest a mediation
Sometimes the dispute can be solved through mediation. The way it works, a third-party (neutral) would sit down with you and your neighbors and go through the concerns from both sides aiming to find a solution and a middle ground.
The mediator may help with his expertise and experience and generate valid ideas/solutions that could solve the problem without going to court.
Obviously, the mediator needs to be paid by both parties, but it may actually be worth it if the light pollution situation is remedied.
File a lawsuit
Lastly, if all the previous approaches have failed, you can escalate it by filing a lawsuit against your neighbor. Contact a local attorney, explain the issue and have them prepare the lawsuit.
Obviously, this should be the last resort since a lawsuit is time-consuming, expensive, and is overall an annoyance.
So, try your best to solve the issue without the need of reaching this point. However, sometimes that’s the only thing that may work with unreasonable and stubborn neighbors.
Light pollution from your neighbor’s house can ruin the enjoyment of your property, it can negatively affect your mood and sleep. If you’re in such a situation, talk with your neighbor and try to reach a solution.
Next, you may contact your local municipality, let an attorney file a demand letter, or try a mediator. Lastly, you may file a lawsuit and solve the issue in a court of law.