Can the neighbor's cats ruin your property value?

Can the neighbor's cats ruin your property value?
Lawsuit says 20 cats in Chicago condo make property impossible to sell

Lawsuit says 20 cats in Chicago condo make property impossible to sell

Who knew the neighbor’s cats could cause so much trouble?

But that’s just what’s happening for one Chicago couple whose neighbor is housing an estimated 20 feline friends in a one-bedroom Lakeview condo. The smell and allergy problems are so bad the couple is taking the matter to court. 

See you in court

Johanna Torres and Matthew Greenburg say the odor given off by their downstairs neighbor’s cats is destroying their home’s property value, and they are seeking $100,000 in damages in Cook County Circuit Court, according to reports. The suit was filed in late July. It also names the building’s property management company for failing to take action against the cat owner.

Is the suit justified?

In general homeowners association bylaws governing the building where Torres and Greenburg live allows pets, and the city of Chicago does not limit the number animals that can live under one roof. 

The couple has spent thousands of dollars to mitigate the odors, but nothing has worked, according to reports. Torres and Greenburg say they even tried listing their condo, but claim it’s unsellable. 

“This is absolutely justified,” says highly rated Realtor Gary Lucido, president of Lucid Realty in Chicago. “If I or my buyers walk into a place and it smells like cats, who wants that?”

Property value drain

Many homeowners will spend thousands of dollars preparing their home for sale to increase property value. However, there are many neighborhood issues outside a seller’s control that can make those improvements meaningless. 

Without the ability to mitigate those issues with uncooperative neighbors, it’s the sellers who will end up taking a loss when they sell their home.

“Think of it this way: If you have two otherwise identical properties, which one are you going to buy?” says Lucido. “Alternatively, what discount will it take to get (buyers) to buy the inferior property?”

How to protect yourself

Torres and Greenburg have lived in their Lakeview home since 2003. Their cat-loving neighbor moved in five years later. So, for the couple, foreseeing their current problems was impossible. 

Lucido says there is only one way for buyers to protect themselves from a similar situation, and that’s to talk to neighbors before closing on a new home to get a true feeling for what’s happening in the neighborhood. 

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