Disputes with neighbors are prevalent. Some of the most frequent reasons people report having conflicts with the people who live around them include:
• Noise: Maybe your neighbors have a different sleep schedule than your own or enjoy late-night parties, but overall most people surveyed say that this is their top complaint with their neighbors.
• Pets: Problems with pets can include not cleaning up after them on other people’s property, barking at all hours, or maybe a pet that’s aggressive or not well-trained.
• Appearance of a home: If there’s a visual nuisance in a neighbor’s front or back yard, it can lead to disputes. Offensive items on a property, lawns that aren’t well-kept, holiday decorations that overstay their welcome, and trash are all specific situations that impact the appearance of a home and can create a dispute.
• Property boundaries: Dealing with where one property ends and another begins can contribute to problems between neighbors. For example, you may argue about how much of the lawn you should mow or where a fence can go.
• Parking: If you live in the suburbs this might not be as big of an issue, but if you live in an urban area, then parking can become a bigger problem. Even in the suburbs, it can be an issue if for example someone is parking on the street when they shouldn’t be or if they are blocking your driveway.
Regardless of the specifics, what should you do if you’re having an issue with a neighbor?
Evaluate the Situation
Before you take any action, consider whether or not the issue you’re having with a neighbor impacts you in any major way. It may not be worth raising the issue if it’s not something that’s truly affecting your quality of life.
We all get annoyed sometimes, but what your neighbor is doing might not be that unreasonable.
Also, if something is a one-time thing and it doesn’t happen again, you might not need to say anything.
Keep a Log of the Events
If you’ve taken the time to cool off and evaluate the situation and you still feel like it’s a real issue that you’re going to have to address at some point, keep a log of the offending events. For example, if your neighbor is having a loud party every Friday night, make notes.
Know if Any Rules or Guidelines are Being Broken
If you live in an apartment community or you have a homeowners’ association, there may be rules against what your neighbor is doing. If that’s the case, you might be able to talk to the governing organization and see if they can handle the situation.
While you’re at it, if you want to resolve an issue, you may have more power in numbers. Talk to other neighbors and see if they’re bothered by the same things as you. If so, you might approach the offending neighbor as a group.
Try to Avoid a Face-to-Face Conversation
If possible, try to approach your neighbor in writing with a letter or email, as opposed to going to them in person. It can escalate a situation if you go to your neighbor in person. When you’re writing them, be direct and polite.
You might also mention any compromises you have considered. For example, if their dog is continuously barking, maybe you suggest that someone take the dog out during the day while they’re at work.
Finally, if you can’t solve your neighborly dispute, you might need the help of a third party. It can be a professional mediator, someone from your housing association or a landlord.
Don’t immediately go to a lawyer or the police unless something dangerous or illegal is happening.
Regardless of the outcome, remember this is someone you’re going to continue to live near, so try your best to keep things calm and relaxed, no matter how frustrated you are.