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Bad blood between neighbors keeps noisy wind chimes swinging

By From page C2 | December 07, 2013

Q: We have some new neighbors who just moved in, and they have hung some loud wind chimes on their patio/trellis that borders our house (the side where our bedrooms are located). I can hear the bells inside our home even with all the windows and doors closed. After exchanging greetings and introducing ourselves, I asked the neighbors if they could remove the chimes since I can hear them inside my house. I invited him to come in our home and hear for himself.

He said it should not be a problem, and as he was saying this his wife emerged from their house. He introduced her, and then asked her if they could remove the chimes. She said no, that she loves hearing chimes. I asked her if she could at least tie them up at night so that they would not keep us awake, and she also said no. Then she started scolding me about how I reported their patio/trellis to the city, and how I created a lot of problems for the selling process (turns out, her sister was the previous owner).

The city made the former owners move the trellis since it did not meet setback requirements. She said that if anyone else were to ask her to remove the chimes, she would do it, but she would not do it for me.

I relayed this information to our homeowners association, and someone called the husband. He said the chimes remain hanging because his sister-in-law (former owner) had issues with me. The woman from the homeowners association told him that he should use his moral conscience and remove them. Needless to say, he did not.

Shouldn’t the association be able to enforce this? The police department said that chimes are a civil matter and that they cannot respond to them, even though they may disturb residents during the evening hours. I have asked these people politely to remove the bells, and because the woman is holding a family grudge, she refuses to remove them. How can I get them to remove the chimes?

A: You could try getting someone else to ask her to remove the chimes.

OK, let’s assume that doesn’t work. It’s obvious there is some bad blood between you and your neighbor. Be that as it may, there are only a couple of ways a C.C&R restriction is enforced.

I don’t know what authority your homeowners association has. Your C.C&Rs and homeowners association bylaws should lay out whether the association specifically has the power to terminate the chimes.

Many, probably most, associations are toothless when it comes to enforcement.

Their bylaws allow them to file a lawsuit, but as a practical matter they almost never do. Usually the expense, coupled with the politics of running an association, prevents them from filing a lawsuit.

Homeowners almost always have the right to bring a civil lawsuit.

But the cost, not the mention the fact that neighbors usually don’t like having neighbors who file lawsuits, usually prevents such actions.

If your association does have the power to remove the chimes then you need to make your case heard. If there are any other neighbors who are willing to side with you, it will make your case that much more compelling.

A strong homeowners association can take care of the problem very quickly.

If not, a lawsuit or ear plugs are probably in your future.

Tim Jones is a real estate attorney in Fairfield. If you have any real estate questions you would like to have answered in this column you can contact him at [email protected].

Tim Jones


Discussion | 7 comments

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  • This looks familiar...December 07, 2013 - 7:30 am

    Do you always rerun your articles ten years later?

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  • S KDecember 07, 2013 - 8:39 am

    This busy body should get a life, complaining about nothing, which is why you would never catch my BUTT in any development with an HOA, even though it is to keep things looking nice. People's freedoms also are more important IMO. Unless these are real large, LOUD chimes, forget about it. We have a smallish set on our deck and I made a point of asking our real nice neighbor if it bothered them, because i would have moved it in a moment, but he said that they can't even hear it. Best neighbors that I have had all around me in the 37 yrs. that I have been here, helping each other out all the time, and looking out for each other. Really, complaining about a TRELLIS, which enhances a deck/patio's appearance IMO???!!! Proof this neighbor is a PIA :-)

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  • FredDecember 07, 2013 - 10:21 am

    Really S K, do you know the whole story to chime in like that? I have a neighbor with those large wind chimes (but in the front of the house) that go "Bong", "Bong all day "Long", "Long" & I would not want them by my bedroom window. These people should suit in Small Claims. Cheap, easy & at $7500 should get Chime Lady to sing a differant note...

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  • sue manDecember 07, 2013 - 2:35 pm

    File a small claims suit against your neighbor for willfully creating a sound nuisance that interfears with your ability to sleep thus negativlly impacting your health sue for the max if you can proove in the lower court that the neighbor intened to cause disterbance you could then ask the police to investigate this as an attempt to do harm to your wellbeing or attempted mutrder that could lead to arrest of your neighbor

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  • Time for some new material Tim.December 07, 2013 - 2:58 pm

    This literally happened 10 years ago. The statue of limitations is probably over by now.

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  • Here's what to do!December 07, 2013 - 9:33 pm

    I would put a 4 million Watt Spotlight pointing at their front and rear of their home..then I would play a non stop rabbit distress coyote call all day long, I would then point 8 surviellance cameras at their house, then i would put rotting fish and eggs in garbage bags and stack it next their fence.......I would make living next to me a living hell for them!

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  • John ShiloJune 17, 2014 - 9:33 pm

    I have the same problem where I live. When I bought this house two close neighbors had super loud chimes that I could hear in every room in my house but one. One lady met me out front and said so nicely, "I gave that chime to my son," and I very gratefully said, "I owe you a big one!" But behind me another neighbor has the loudest chime I've ever heard. I received no response from him except that he moved the chime to his front yard, but I will hear it just as loud, it's the same distance away. I contacted the city by email at the site they provide for HOA complaints and received no response. I hate this whole process and have just let it go, but sometimes the wind blows all week long and those chimes are near constant. I don't know how people can be so inconsiderate. I told them that I can't sleep with my window open because the chimes wake me up, and it made no difference. It has altered my life style - I abandoned one bedroom, using it as a buffer, so I don't hear it. I've heard chimes before that were somewhat in the distance, were pleasant and actually soothing, but these chimes are just like loud metal banging together, nothing appealing or pleasant about them. I imagine I will just have to keep living this way, enduring it, seething about it. Truth be told, I pray about it, that God will give me patience and wisdom on how to deal with the situation.

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