Neighbors’ Lights Too Bright? (What You Can Do Legally)
Living with bright lights from neighbors can be a challenge, especially when it affects your sleep and quality of life. If you’re facing this issue, you may be wondering what you can do about it.
To address excessive lighting from neighbors, you can file a complaint with local authorities or seek mediation with a neighborhood association. These are legal actions that can help you regain control of your environment.
Hopefully, a simple conversation is enough to get your neighbors to stop unintentionally blinding you at night. Still, if it’s not, we’ve got other suggestions, up to and including involving the police. So stick with us while we talk it through!
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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!
However, sometimes these solutions take time. So while you’re waiting for your neighbor to change up the lights, consider other options to block the light temporarily. Here are three of our favorite ways to do so:
1. Black-Out Curtains – Prevent the light from shining into your home by adding these stylish and light-blocking curtains.
2. Sleep Mask – If the light keeps you awake, invest in a sleep mask and block the light out!
3. Privacy Screen – You can put these screens up on their own or add them to an existing fence to block out light so you can enjoy your yard without a spotlight!
How to Talk to the Neighbors about Their Problem Lights
No one wants to have an awkward conversation with the neighbors explaining that their behavior is annoying, but sometimes it must be done. After all, if the alternative is living with a spotlight on you, it might be worth it.
Before you sneak over to your neighbor’s house with a heavy object to smash their lights while they aren’t home, let’s pause and discuss how to have that awkward conversation. Start by figuring out a time when they’ll be home and not busy.
How do I ask my neighbors to turn off the lights, you ask? Either stop by their home or shoot them a call or text message explaining that their lights are shining into your home and causing you issues. Explain exactly what’s happening, then ask them if they can reposition the lights or even use dimmer bulbs.
Typically, just reaching out and informing your neighbors that there is an issue will be enough to make them consider moving the lights. In fact, the neighbor may not even know they were causing an issue. Hopefully, this will resolve your issue.
When Talking Isn’t Enough
Unfortunately, sometimes talking isn’t enough. If your neighbor is stubborn, or if they think they are in the right to keep the light where they have it, simply asking them to move it may not be enough.
While your neighbors have the right to light their home as they choose, including the yard, if the light is causing you issues or if the light is shining at your house, then you may have legal precedence to ask them to move or change the light.
If they ignore or refuse your request, you can escalate the situation by contacting the police for a nuisance light. However, without significant proof that the lights are damaging to your life, odds are it won’t accomplish much beyond annoying the neighbor.
However, suppose you’ve thoroughly documented the situation and can prove that the light is causing issues. In that case, you may be able to legally force the neighbors into changing the light, so don’t be afraid to document!
Other Ways to Block the Light
If your neighbor is refusing to adjust the light, and you haven’t been able to force them to move or dim it, you may have to resort to other methods to shield the light. For example, consider purchasing black-out curtains for your bedroom or wherever the light’s shining.
While this isn’t the best, or a forever fix, it will help in the here and now to block the worst of your neighbor’s light. If you think you need something more permanent to block your neighbors light, you may have to consider building a privacy fence.
Your Rights, Your Neighbor’s Lights
Hopefully, the problem won’t escalate to the point where a fence is necessary. If that is the case, your neighbors have committed light trespass, albeit potentially by accident. Though, if you’ve spoken to them about it and they haven’t fixed the issue, it could be malevolent.
Light trespass is defined as “Unwanted light emitted beyond the boundaries of the property on which the luminaire is located, detrimentally affecting residents, vehicle operators and pedestrians, the natural environment, and astronomical observations.”
This also ties into nuisance lights, which Witchita, Kansas legislature defines as:
“An outdoor visible light or other source of illumination which is on private property and produces glare or direct illumination across a property line in a residential area of such intensity that it creates a nuisance or unreasonably interferes with the use or enjoyment of adjacent property.”
If you think that your neighbor’s lights are causing light trespass or nuisance lighting, you should be documenting it. Then, once you’ve seen the pattern and spoken to the neighbors, you can report the activity.
Your Neighbor’s Legal Lights
Your neighbor does have the right to light their home and yard as they see fit, but if the light is bleeding onto your property or causing you to be unable to enjoy your own property due to their lights, they have committed light trespass.
Light trespass can also be dangerous to drivers if the lights from the home are visible and distracting on the road. However, police are likely to take action if this is the case, as the lights may cause accidents and must be stopped quickly.
While there is no specific wattage or lumen amount that outdoor lights must adhere to, the lights shouldn’t spill from the property it’s located on. While some people use spotlights for things like putting a flagpole in their yard, they must ensure the light isn’t bothering their neighbors.
Light Harassment and How to Deal with It
Light harassment, light trespass, and nuisance lights are all very similar and can overlap. Essentially, as long as your neighbor is intentionally leaving up lights that light up your property, irritate you, or prevent you from feeling comfortable in your home or yard, they have committed light harassment.
So, if your neighbor won’t move the light, and you haven’t been able to get them to move it legally, here are some suggestions that may help you block or ignore the light:
- Privacy Fencing – If your yard doesn’t have a fence, consider adding one that blocks light.
- Privacy Screens – If you already have a fence, but it doesn’t block the light, consider just adding this screen instead of changing out your entire fence.
- Black-Out Curtains – Add these curtains to any room in your house where the light is becoming a problem.
- Eye Mask – If you can’t sleep due to the light but don’t want to add heavy curtains, use an eye mask to block the light while you sleep.
- Reflector Sheets – While this one needs some pettiness, you can add reflectors to your windows so that the neighbor’s light bounces back to them. Just use caution, don’t reflect the light onto other innocent neighbors!
- Light-Blocking Blinds – If curtains aren’t your thing, consider these slatted blinds instead!
When In Doubt, Talk It Out
Just remember, before you do anything petty, that your neighbors can’t fix what they don’t know about. So before you go cursing them out, smashing their lights, adding reflectors to your home, or calling the cops, have a talk with your neighbor.
Be calm, explain the situation, and ask them to move, shroud, or dim their lights so that the light isn’t hitting your property or shining into your window anymore. Most of the time, your neighbors will understand and fix the issue.
You might also enjoy our post on Can My Neighbor Hang Things on My Fence?
All in all, speaking with your neighbors about the issue you’re having with their lights being too bright is always the best option to start. Hopefully, your neighbors are the reasonable sort, and they understand the problem and move their light away from your home.
However, if they refuse to move or dim their lights, you do have a couple of other options. You can either change up your curtains or blinds in order to block the light. Additionally, you can contact the authorities, though that involves accusing your neighbors of nuisance lighting.
We hope you are able to settle the lighting issue with your neighbors without contacting the police, however. Remember, after this event is over, you still have to live next door to them!