Living La Vida Local

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Question: We want to move. There is a senior care facility next door to our home, and one woman shrieks and wails in the middle of the night. It spooks our kids. I’ve notified the police and local mental health workers, but they say they cannot do anything unless this woman a threat. If we decide to sell our home, do we need to inform new buyers about this nuisance? What could happen to us if we don’t reveal this information?

- O.M.S.
Santa Monica

Answer: If you do not disclose your howling neighbor problem to prospective home buyers, you may lose the sale. There is a court decision on this issue - Shapiro vs. Southerland, (1998) 60 Cal.App.4th 666. In this appellate court decision, the seller was ordered to rescind the sale and return the buyer's money. That situation involved a home seller who failed to disclose that his neighbors caused frequent disturbances. For better advice, consult a real estate attorney.


Question: We want to buy a home in Venice. We’re finding that some of the properties have unpermitted improvements. This includes privacy fences, patios, decks and converted garages. What can we do to insure that we won’t have to tear down these additions in the future?
- R.W.
Santa Monica

Answer: The frantic state of the Venice real estate market aside, the sage and the wise suggest consulting an experienced general contractor. Work with someone who knows how the city works. Have them inspect the improvements and give their opinion the best way to rectify the situation.

Another option is to go over to pay a visit to the Los Angeles Department of Building & Safety at 1828 Sawtelle Blvd (310-575-8200). Explain your circumstances and ask what would be required to legalize the situation. It may involve obtaining retroactive permits and paying penalty fees.

Keep in mind; if you’re going to remodel this property, you can take care of many of the issues in your remodel.


Question: My mom put me on title to her home as a joint tenant with right of survivorship. She owns her home free-and-clear, and doesn’t earn enough income to file tax returns. I can use the tax deductions. Can I deduct her property taxes?
- W.G.

Answer: You’d want to prove that you paid the property tax bill. Proof can be a cancelled check, or any other physical evidence. For more details, consult your accountant.

Have a real estate question? Maybe we have the answer. E-mail Jodi Summers at, or call 310-260-8269.


p.s. This is not intended as a solicitation if your property is already listed with another agent.