Dealing with difficult neighbors can be a delicate battle. When you buy a new home or someone new moves in next door to you, you may quickly find that your new neighbors are less than pleasant. Instead of just keeping your mouth shut, or even worse, getting aggressive, check out some of our best tips on how to handle difficult neighbors. Ideally, you’ll be able to make your home and neighborhood a more welcoming and restful environment for everyone.
First, Check Yourself
It’s often very obvious to us when a neighbor is doing something obnoxious or inappropriate, but it’s important to check in on our own behavior as well, and how it may be affecting those that live around us. It’s very possible that your neighbor’s behavior is a reaction to your own (although we agree that this is not the most mature way to handle a problem). If you’re planning to discuss an issue with a neighbor, make sure you’ve been on your best behavior or are aware of any complaints they may have about you.
A few things to consider when asking yourself if you’re a good neighbor are the noise level from your home, whether you have well-trained pets, how tidy your property is, and whether you follow the laws of the area in terms of property lines and disputes.
It’s much easier to brush off a stranger than someone you’ve known for years. For this reason, it is advantageous to start building a relationship with your neighbors before any conflicts arise. Introduce yourself early on to make sure you can have open communication should any issues come about. It can also be helpful to give your neighbor a heads up if you’re planning any renovations or social gatherings that may disturb them. Better yet, invite them along!
Always Assume the Best
As humans, we are very wrapped up in our own heads and it’s easy to convince yourself that your neighbor is playing their music loudly SPECIFICALLY to distract you from studying. Odds are, this is far from the truth and your neighbor is unaware that they are causing a problem. Rather than coming in hot with accusations, always assume the best and help inform your neighbor of the impact of their actions so you can both agree on the best solution.
Along with avoiding assumptions, it’s important to bring sympathy to the table in these situations. We don’t always know what our neighbors are going through or why they are behaving certain ways, so if they come to you with a complaint, make sure you treat their problem with understanding and compassion.
Ideally, you will be able to resolve any issues directly with your neighbor, but occasionally, escalation is necessary. In these cases, documentation is key. If you have a specific complaint that you have tried to resolve reasonably, document each approach you have taken and any photos of the situation in question. These can be helpful if you need to get your HOA, landlord, or even local authorities involved if things begin to escalate.
Do Your Research
It is important to research your area’s rules and regulations before you decide to escalate to a formal complaint or decide to take legal action. While Google can be helpful, your best course of action would be to contact a lawyer or your local housing authority to understand your rights as a homeowner or renter. Having this information in your back pocket can also help conversations with your neighbor as you help explain what is required of them.
Escalate When Serious
If the situation is serious or dangerous, do not attempt to engage, even if you know you are in the right. A neighborly dispute is not worth injury or other negative consequences, so if you have attempted friendly conversation and have received threats or have other situations you cannot safely resolve, contact your local authorities to discuss a path forward.
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