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July Book of the Month: Neighbor Disputes

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Neighbor DisputesNeighbor Disputes: Law and Litigation 
by Todd W. Baxter et al.
Reviewed by Ruth Geos, Reference Librarian


All of us are neighbors and most of us, in this urban setting, have neighbors above, below, next door or across the street. The issues touching our space and property are intensely emotional and can be difficult to negotiate. Some of our neighbors we know only by their first names, but the impact of their actions—by blocking access, encroaching a boundary, creating excessive noise, odor, or light, or undermining property foundations with earth-moving or water issues—can interfere with enjoyment, use, and other protections in living our lives next door. When the lines of communication between neighbors are closed, and impact is serious enough, some of these disputes arise to legal issues, and require consultation with counsel who can evaluate both the legal issue and the possibilities for resolution.

CEB’s Neighbor Disputes: Law and Litigation, available both in print and on CEB OnLaw, offers a specialized guide on how to address neighbor disputes, from the first client consultation through the completion of litigation. The authors emphasize the underlying emotional currents in any dispute between neighbors, and offer practical approaches to try to minimize antagonism both in immediate terms of negotiating a solution and for the long-term future to be able to coexist as neighbors. For example, counsel is advised at the outset of litigation to determine the client’s motivations and expectations in order to shape the course of representation, and to help the client understand the practical, emotional, and legal components of litigation. The authors emphasize that even where the client prevails, the wisdom is that client will not be made whole because they still live in an environment of distrust and anger.

view of city street

Photo by IKRAM shaari on Pexels.com

Individual chapters offer an authoritative analysis of neighbor disputes involving easements, encroachments, earth movement, trees, fences, domestic animals, water rights, views, open space, home businesses, solar and wind power, blight, criminal activities, toxic contamination, and noise, odor, light and air. The authors analyze potential causes of action, both statutory and based on common law, along with possible defenses and the various remedies that may be available. Checklists itemize the types of key information and facts to gather to support each cause of action, and a few sample documents are also included, including a sample demand letter requesting abatement of a nuisance.

Neighbor Disputes: Law & Litigation is highly recommended for its unique insight into the issues that challenge neighborhood civility, and for its thorough evaluation of the legal merits and potential for resolution through litigation or alternative means.

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