I would like to get some suggestions from the moderators and readers concerning a bit of a parking inconvenience I am currently experiencing. Please bear with me as while this may seem a simple question of a “polite spine”, there are several details that are rather important…
I live in a lovely semi-historic neighborhood filled with mostly larger homes with a few smaller ones mixed in. The neighborhood is well maintained and one of the more desirable in town, with homes usually selling in less than a month of being placed on the market. While there is some new construction from people purchasing an older home and razing it to build a new one, it is rare. Most of these homes are single family homes, but occasionally there will be a home that has been turned into a duplex or even holds 4-6 apartments. As you can imagine these are snapped up as quickly as possible, usually by married or co-habitating medical students, people going through a divorce that don’t want to live in an apartment complex or other responsible adults that want a family style neighborhood. The home next to me is one such home. It has been turned into a duplex.
My neighbor is a lovely woman. She is a widow and moved into the apartment after her husband’s passing so that she could be next to her daughter that lived across the street. She does not drive, though the driveway to the home is on her side of the duplex and technically the driveway and the garage are ‘hers’ (per her rental agreement) and do not belong to the tenant on the other side of the house. She does utilize the garage for storage, but she has no car. Our homes are situated so that our driveways are actually right next to one another, so close in fact that at the street level there is no grass or other divider between them leaving it to look like one exceptionally wide driveway. As you pull up past the homes to the garages in back, the driveways do separate with a bit of yard between them.
A year or so ago, a new tenant moved into the apartment on the other side of the duplex. This is when the issue began. Two men (brothers) moved in and began parking in the driveway (that belonged to the widow) even though she had said she would prefer them not to. When they pulled into the drive far back, she would have to get around their cars to get into her garage which she goes into often. Plus, one would sometimes disturb her late at night with their coming and going as the drive was right next to her apartment. She evidently spoke to them and only one brother started parking in the driveway. The other started parking on the street, but for some reason chose to park directly in front of my home as opposed to in front of their own home.
This is an issue for me as my driveway is on a rather steep hill and I have a couple of friends and family members that will sometimes pop by that simply can not handle getting out of a car on that hill. My grandmother had her car door close in on her leg as she tried it and it left a bruise on her fragile skin for months. If she could park in front of my house, then she and others can walk on flat ground to the steps leading up to my house. I had just decided that I might need to say something, when the first incident occurred.
It was about 1 in the afternoon and I had just put my son down for a nap, when I heard shouting outside. I was in my living room, which is next to the driveway and I could hear both the widow and one of the brothers outside. They were having an argument concerning the driveway. I didn’t know all the details, but after several minutes he yelled at her and called her “an old bi**h” and it became quiet. I saw her later that day and she told me that he was coming in late in the evening, usually quite drunk and was waking her. To be honest, he was coming in quite drunk during daylight hours as well. She wanted him to stop using the drive all together as it was disruptive and she was (quite rightly) concerned he might hit the house or drive through the garage one day. She spoke to her landlord, but it was no help. The landlord told the widow that while she did get the garage in her lease the drive was not “technically” included and that the drunk would be allowed to continue to use it, but they would continue to only allow one car in the driveway to prevent the garage from being blocked.
As our drives are so very close, if a car in my neighbor’s driveway is not parked straight then I am unable to back out of my garage and down my drive. I am sure all of your readers see where this is going. The brother with the drinking problem often has trouble getting his car parked straight. There have been several times when I went to knock on their door to get the car moved and no one answered, leaving me to either call and re-arrange my plans with others explaining that I can not leave, find an alternate mode of transportation or just to wait for him to wake up/show up. I have also knocked and had the street parking brother answer and inform me that the brother blocking my car has left (either on foot or with friends) and he does not have the keys to move the blocking car. I even called the police one time, but was told there was nothing I could do about it.
The drinking brother shows no sign of quitting. There were two other incidents with him that did not give him enough reason to quit. One night my son woke and when I went to check on him I realized there were red and blue lights flashing through the windows. I looked outside (at 3am) to discover multiple police cars in front of my house. My neighbor was getting a DWI! Right before he pulled into our drive!!! I watched as a police officer actually drove his car into the driveway to keep it from getting impounded! What??? I couldn’t believe it. The next incident was during the early evening. I was sitting down with my son for his dinner around 5:30pm and once again I saw lights on the street. It was an ambulance. I went to the window and saw them walking to the house on the other side of the duplex. They have a young infant and I am friends with the mom, so I went out to see if they were ok or if I needed to watch the baby while she or her husband went to the hospital. They were fine. The brother with the drinking problem had walked out of his kitchen (the door is by their driveway) and passed out, knocking his head on the steps. The husband of my friend had found him outside and bleeding in their driveway!
The widow’s daughter (from across the street) had to move this past year to a town about 30 minutes away, but she still works here in town. This also further complicates the situation for the widow as the drinking neighbor, the one whom lives in the other side of her duplex is her daughter’s boss! I strongly suspect this is one reason the widow has not pushed the issue further with her landlord. I have met the landlord of my neighbor, and that woman is basically useless in this situation. She simply does not care and seems fairly clueless. Since the widow is the person paying rent, and she may be reluctant to get her daughter’s boss evicted, it appears I am stuck with the brothers forever.
The police are obviously aware of the drinking brother, but are no help. I don’t want to start a war with these unstable people, but the parking is more than just annoying – sometimes I literally can not leave my home! I also do not want to do anything that will cause more chaos for my sweet neighbor, but I feel like these people are a big stress for her to deal with as well.
Thank you for any and all ideas you may come up with! 0816-14
The answer seems obvious to me. If the driveway usage is at the discretion of the widowed neighbor per her rental agreement, then how she chooses to use this asset of renting the apartment is well within her legal rights to use it as she wants. Get permission from your neighbor widow to use her driveway to park your cars and then park your car in such a way that uses the entire driveway width and close to the street so no other car can get behind or around you. Then when you have guests, move your car to allow them to park in widow neighbor’s driveway.