Nothing ruins new-home enjoyment like a neighbor who rules the roost with an iron fist and an intolerance for all things fun. Or the one who causes all the drama—or all the noise. And those are just a few of the types of neighbors you hope to NOT have.
You can read cautionary tale after cautionary tale, and get in a few laughs at the same time, on the Neighbors from Hell Instagram page—which is, frankly, our newest obsession. The reality is that you may not be able to avoid every neighborhood grouch when you buy a house, but you can prepare by doing your research in the areas you’re considering (TODAY has some good tips for that here.).
And if you do end up with a neighbor who’s concerning, here are some steps to take to diffuse or mend a tense or problematic situation.
Lend an ear
It may just be that your neighbor grumpiness is a call for help. Sometimes, all it takes to tame a grouch is to show a little kindness to someone who needs some—even if they don’t deserve it.
Lend a hand
“Does your neighbor have an overgrown lawn, shutters with peeling paint, or siding that needs to be power washed? You might assume that they're neglectful, but there might be a bigger problem that you're not aware of,” said The Spruce. “The family may be dealing with sickness, or their lawnmower broke down and they can't afford a new one.”
Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself
Then again, sometimes you need to show strength to someone who isn’t used to having a viable foe. While it may be easier to take the highroad, you might have to get in the muck to get the results you want.
“It’s always easier to achieve desired goals through joint efforts,” said Rentberry. “If it’s likely that you’re not the only one unhappy about your neighbor’s behavior, you should check if someone else is ready to side you. This point is especially important if you decide to contact local precinct or file a complaint in court. In this case, quantity matters. The more people share your opinion, the more chances to win you have.”
Get the authorities involved
If we’re talking about breaking laws or dealing with intimidation or harassment, you may have to escalate the situation.
Steer clear of danger
“Sad but true, some neighbors are not worth getting to know well—but it’s still good to know something about their dislikes and boundaries, so you don’t cross them,” said HGTV. “In 2006, for instance, headlines were made when Charles Martin, an elderly man living in a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio, shot a 15-year-old boy to death because he had apparently made the error of walking across his meticulously manicured lawn.
How to handle them: Martin—who is in jail—may have been destined to snap no matter what his neighbors did or didn’t do, but he was well known for the care he lavished on his lawn, and in theory, if that 15-year-old had been more aware of the kook’s devotion to his lawn, it might have kept him from going anywhere near the home.”