Contractor Took My Money and Ran

Contractor Took My Money and Ran

At JCMS, we’ve heard nightmare stories about home-improvement projects.  Maybe your contractor took your payment, didn’t do the work, and now keeps giving you excuses about why the work hasn’t started.  Maybe he won’t answer or return your calls at all.  Perhaps this has been going on for weeks. You might have thought about suing in Small Claims court, but first, maybe it’s a good time to try mediation.  You don’t need technical or legal knowledge, and you don’t have to get a lawyer. JCMS offers FREE mediation to Jefferson County citizens and businesses.  Mediation is a good way to discuss a dispute reasonably, with a neutral third party (a mediator) to facilitate the conversation.  The mediators won’t tell you what to do, give legal advice, or say who is right or wrong, but they are trained to help people with disagreements to work together to find a resolution, instead of having a shouting match.  You won’t lose any legal rights – if you can’t come to an agreement in mediation, you can still take your case to court.  For more information on mediation, go to our website at www.JeffcoMediation.com, or call us at 303.271.5060. Para el Espanol,...

My Neighbors are Complaining About My Parties

At JCMS, we frequently hear people saying things such as: I like to have parties on the weekend, and I don’t think it’s that loud, but my neighbors call the cops on me! Yes, I have hot tub parties, and some people may be nude, but if the neighbors don’t want to see that, they don’t have to look! It’s not like my parties are any different from anyone else’s!  Why are they picking on me? Many folks have outside parties now and then, but when does it become intolerable for the people nearby?  How do I keep from upsetting my neighbors? First, it can help if you give your neighbors advance notice that you are planning to have a party. They may want to go somewhere else to avoid the noise.  You could invite them to come – at least it gives them a choice. Next, it’s good to tell them what time the party will start, and what time you expect it to end (obviously, you don’t always know an exact ending time).  Consider moving the festivities indoors after 10:00 or 11:00 in the evening, and think about turning down the stereo at that time (a loud, thumping bass is a common source of complaints). If you have parties on a regular basis, it’s likely that some of your neighbors will begin to object, unless you stick to a noise curfew, and try to make sure that your guests aren’t too rowdy.  Of course, “rowdy” may not mean the same thing to you as it does to your neighbors, so try to be aware of what those...

Are Your Neighbors’ Outdoor Parties Too Loud?

At JCMS, we frequently hear people saying things such as: It seems like they have a big party every weekend, and it can go on until 2:00 in the morning! They have hot tub parties, and sometimes they parade around naked where the whole neighborhood can see them! They blast their stereo and drink beer until all hours, and I have to work the next day! I don’t want to cause trouble with my neighbors, but I want some peace and quiet.  What can I do? Lots of people have summer parties now and then, but when does it become intolerable for their neighbors? The biggest causes for complaint seem to be loud volume, late hours, and rowdy behavior.  If you have children who need to sleep, or you need to get rest yourself, there are a few things you can try. It may help if you have a calm, civil discussion with your neighbor about the problem – perhaps you should wait until the next day, especially if they are intoxicated or high. Let them know how it is affecting you, and see if you can work out an agreement about lowering the volume after 10 or 11 p.m. or taking the noise inside their house. Your locality may have ordinances about noise level and quiet hours. You can remind your neighbors that they may be in violation of such statutes. If partiers are leaving trash around the neighborhood, getting in fights, or otherwise disturbing the peace, there are laws that the authorities can enforce. If the people causing the problem are renters, you can try contacting the landlord...

Neighbor’s Trees Invading Your Turf?

At JCMS, we hear a lot of conflict over vegetation, such as: His tree overhangs my house (or yard) and it’s filling my gutters with leaves (or dropping rotten apples on my lawn). Their tree has gotten so big that it has cut off my view. I’m worried that those growing roots will damage my sewer line. My neighbor’s bushes are branching out over my driveway.  Can I trim them? Generally, you have the right to trim branches and roots up to your property line, as long as you don’t cause damage to the tree or trespass onto your neighbor’s property.  Before you pick up your chain saw, though, here are some things to consider: You can forestall a lot of trouble by talking to your neighbor first. The owners may feel very strongly about mutilation of their majestic maple.  Explain why you think the trimming is necessary, and how you plan to do it. If you hire a company to do the job, you will have to cover the cost, but if the tree or bush is on city property or a utility easement, you may be able to get them to trim it. If you talk to your neighbor first, she may be willing to split the cost with you. Check to see if the tree is protected because of its species, size or age. If a tree is diseased or in danger of falling, the local government may require the owner to remove the tree. If you damage the tree, you may be liable to the owner, and trees can be worth a lot of money...

Marijuana Smoke Bothering You?

At Mediation Services we have been getting calls like these: I’m getting an allergic reaction to all the smoke coming up through the vents – it’s even in my bedroom! They smoke outside on their balcony, and it comes right up to me – I can’t enjoy being outside anymore! The smoke blows from their porch across into our yard – I don’t want my kids exposed to pot smoke! Since recreational marijuana became legal in Colorado, there is more exposure to second-hand pot smoke than when people were smoking in private, away from the eyes of law enforcement.  Of course, there is still second-hand cigarette smoke to deal with, too.  Police usually don’t have authority to do anything about it, as long as the smoker is an adult and is smoking on his/her own property.  Some apartment complexes and homeowners’ associations (HOAs) are considering regulating where people can smoke.  One difficulty is defining how much odor it takes to be considered a “nuisance.” It seems to be worst in apartment buildings and condos, where the venting may allow smoke to travel from one unit to another, or where people smoke on a nearby balcony and the fumes spread to sting your eyes and nose. You are not alone, but what can you do? Consider politely asking the smoking neighbors to help. They may not even be aware that their smoke is drifting into your space, and there may be things that both of you can do to mitigate the problem.  Air filters, fans, and deodorizers can help.  Maybe your neighbor would be willing to smoke inside, then go...

My Neighbor’s Yard is an Eyesore!

Do you find yourself thinking these thoughts? She has weeds growing three feet high – it makes the whole neighborhood look trashy, and the weeds spread into my yard! He has two junk cars rusting in the yard, but he says they are “classics” he’s going to restore. They have broken toys and garbage all over the place, and they never clean it up.  I think there are rats over there! These are some of the most common neighbor complaints JCMS hears.  If you take the time to keep your home looking nice, it can be upsetting to have a neighbor who doesn’t. There are many reasons people don’t keep up their yards.  Sometimes older people or those with health issues have trouble doing yard work.  A single parent may be overwhelmed just keeping the household running.  One person’s treasure is another person’s trash.  Maybe your neighbor just doesn’t think the appearance of the yard is very important. If you are comfortable doing so, you can talk (politely and respectfully) to your neighbor.  Maybe he/she isn’t aware that the old cars bother you.  You could provide the name of your yard care people.  Perhaps you could even offer a little bit of help with cleanup or mowing. You might be planning to put your house on the market, and you could mention courteously that you can get a better price if the neighborhood looks nice.  People are sensitive about what they perceive as criticism, so be prepared to stay calm.  If your neighbor takes offense at what you say, back off – don’t let the situation get out of...