Should I sue my neighbor in small claims court because of the constant nuisance from his barking dog?
Although winning a lawsuit in small claims court will get you money, it won’t get you what you really want. Small claims court judges only have the power to order someone to pay money, but can’t get a court order telling your neighbor to make the problematic dog be quiet. Also, you’ll have to prove that the dog is a nuisance and that definition varies from state to state.
It might be better to first try to sort it out, and resolve it, with your neighbor before entering a time-consuming legal battle. First take these steps:
• Give them a polite, but firm, verbal warning.
If nothing improves, follow up with a written warning. State that if it does not stop within 10 days, you will “pursue all remedies available to you.” The reason for stating it this way is to check your city’s ordinances. Cities and towns have varying laws regarding permitted noise hours. Find them online at your city or county’s website, at city hall, or in the public library.
• Collect police and witness reports. You should communicate with your other neighbors to get witness testimony to back up your case. Document all the events involving your requests to the neighbor to deal with the noise.
• Try a city mediator to try to settle the issue between you and your neighbor.
If nothing you’ve tried helps, you can sue the owner of a barking dog, on the ground that the dog is a nuisance that interferes with your use and enjoyment of your home. Small claims court procedures are simple and designed to be used without a lawyer. In some states, lawyers are even barred from small claims court. Even if they aren’t banned, you will rarely see one there because most people find it too expensive to hire them. Fees in small claims court are also low, and the process is relatively fast.