Dear Barry,

My neighbor’s dogs inhabit a chain link enclosure located behind my backyard fence. I don’t believe anyone ever cleans this area, and the accumulated filth creates an unbearable stench. On days when I’m downwind, I don’t dare open a window. Complaints to the owners have only produced anger and unfriendliness. They just warn me to mind my own business. To complicate matters, I’m now preparing to sell my home and fear that this unsanitary condition will deter buyers. What, if anything, can be done to convince my neighbor’s to eliminate this problem?

Dear Wayne,

Your neighbors are obviously not good candidates for pet ownership. Fortunately, the conditions they are promoting are likely to be of interest and dissatisfaction to the municipal authorities in your area. Besides practicing cruelty to animals, these dog owners are generating a significant health hazard and fostering a public nuisance. If they are unwilling to correct these conditions in a decent and acceptable manner, you can report them to the animal control department, the health department and the district attorney’s office. In all likelihood, these complaints should motivate some remedial action, and that should aid your attempts to effectively market your home. More important, it should facilitate the elimination of a disgraceful condition for which there is no reasonable excuse.

Dear Barry,

We just purchased a home and had it professionally inspected. But home inspectors can’t report defects that are concealed and sure enough, when we moved in there were holes in the plaster where the walls had been covered by furniture. What can buyers do to protect themselves from such surprises? Should there be a second inspection when the sellers vacate the house? And what about the seller’s responsibility: aren’t they liable for these repairs?

Dear Angela,

The conclusion of the home purchase process should include a final walk-through inspection, usually during the last day or two of the transaction period after the premises has been vacated. This walk-through enables you and your agent to observe any physical damages or defects that may have been concealed from your home inspector. Apparently, this final review did not take place before you completed your purchase or perhaps the sellers had not yet moved on the day of your walk-through.

As regards the sellers’ liability, the wall damage was not likely to have been unknown to them and therefore should have been disclosed. Failure to disclose known defects engenders liability for sellers. Fortunately, holes in plaster are not likely to involve major repair expenses. However, you can confirm the extent of this damage by having your home inspector conduct a final evaluation.

To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at


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