Stopping Noise, Odors, Light Trespass & Other Neighborhood Nuisances

If you and your neighbors are plagued by noise, odors, traffic, litter, or other nuisances then you’re not alone. In fact, a fourth of all U.S. households suffer some form of nuisance.

Fortunately CEDS has had a great deal of success in resolving these problems. In fact, we’ve yet to encounter a nuisance we couldn’t solve. But before paying CEDS several hundred dollars to eliminate nuisances degrading your quality of life, give our self-help recommendations below a try. However, if you need help right away, contact us at 410-654-3021 or


CEDS has been helping people eliminate neighborhood nuisances for more then two decades. Following is the approach we’ve found to be most effective. Further advice, including methods for identifying and correcting a variety of nuisances, is provided in the free CEDS book How To Win Land Development Issues. In the following paragraphs the person(s) causing a nuisance are referred to as the responsible party. Also, check out the great Readers Digest article 12 Steps to Dealing With Bad Neighbors.

Talk with the Responsible Party

Your first step should always be direct contact with those you believe to be causing a nuisance.

Be Reasonable & Positive

When approaching the responsible party present your concerns along the following lines…

“Hi. There are some lights that shine into my bedroom at night. I think the lights are on your property. I realize these lights are probably important to you. I’d like to see if there’s a way the lights can be changed so they don’t keep me awake while maintaining the benefits they provide for you.”

Don’t Insist on One Solution

There are usually several ways to solve as nuisance. Occasionally folks get wedded to the first solution they think of. Don’t make this mistake. Instead consider all solutions as you work with the responsible party to find that which works best for everyone.

Strength in Numbers

Generally you’ll find it most difficult to resolve a nuisance if it appears you and your neighbor are engaged in a spite fight. If your initial efforts to work with the responsible party fail then the next actions will be more successful if you are supported by your neighbors and/or your homeowners association.

File A Complaint

Most nuisances can be reported to your local zoning or code-enforcement agency. As stated earlier, the CEDS survey showed that filing a complaint was the most effective action and resolved 61% of the nuisances.

Seek Help from Local Elected Officials

Your County, City or Town council member or commissioner can get things done far more easily then most of us. If you are dissatisfied with the action taken on your complaint then contact the local elected official(s) who represent you.

Give CEDS a Call

If the preceding actions have failed to resolve a nuisance then contact CEDS at 410-654-3021 or We’ll be delighted to see if we can help you get the problem solved. There will not be any charge for this initial advice. And if we can’t nix the nuisance with this no-cost service, we can usually get it for fixed for a fee as low as $300 to $500.


According to the American Housing Survey neighborhoods across the nation are affected by the following nuisances.


Street noise or traffic is the most prevalent nuisance and affects 26% of all neighborhood households. For 11% of household traffic is merely bothersome while its so bad that the residents of 4% of households say its got them thinking of moving.


In addition to traffic noise, 2% of those living in neighborhoods composed of single-family detached homes are bothered by other noise. Of those living in townhouses or apartments, 17% report noise from their neighbors as an issue.


Residents report that crime is present in 15% of their neighborhoods and 4% find the level of crime sufficient to cause them to search for another place to live.


Bothersome odors affect 3% of neighborhood residents and has caused a third of these people to search for another home.

Litter & Housing Deterioration

2% report these issues as a problem in their neighborhood.

Neighborhoods Rated

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, Americans rate their neighborhood 7.8 on average. The rating system includes factors in addition to nuisances such as quality of schools, availability of public transportation, retail services, building security, police and other emergency services, etc.


Due to a paucity of basic research, CEDS conducted an informal nationwide nuisances survey. A total of 137 people from nine states took the CEDS Neighborhood Nuisances Survey. For the most part these folks are leaders of community or environmental organizations.


The results of the CEDS survey generally mirror those of the American Housing Survey. The most common nuisance reported is speeding on neighborhood streets (67%) followed by traffic noise (34%), noisy dogs (29%), juvenile misbehavior (28%). and traffic congestion on neighborhood streets (27). The 17 other nuisances noted by the respondents will be found in: CEDS Neighborhood Nuisances Survey Summary.

Quality of Life Impact

Two-thirds reported that nuisances cause a somewhat- to moderately-negative impact to their quality of life. However, 5% said the nuisances were so bad they they’ve considered moving.

Actions Taken

The survey form provided four options for actions taken to resolve nuisances. Slightly more then half reported speaking with the person causing the nuisance and filing a complaint. Two-thirds contacted a local elected official. Only 11% sought out a lawyer. A number of other actions were also reported and can be found in the Survey Summary.

Most Effective Actions

By far, filing a complaint was the most effective action and resulted in full or partial resolution of a nuisance 61% of the time. Speaking with the person causing the nuisance was the next most effective (41%) approach followed by contacting an elected official (38%). Speaking with a lawyer was the least effective (33%) action.


The last question in the CEDS survey asked respondents to offer advice to others seeking to resolve nuisances. Of the 137 folks who completed the survey, 93 offered their thoughts on this question. Much of the advice mirrors what CEDS has found to be the most effective approach for eliminating neighborhood nuisances. A summary of this approach was given in Tips For Solving Nuisances above.