How to Handle Bad Neighbors

bad neighborsThere are a variety of ways people can be bad neighbors, so let’s look at some of the most common types of bad neighbors before we start talking about what to do about them.

Noisy neighbors: these are the ones who make a lot of noise that might disturb you when you’re at home, especially in the middle of the night. Whether they have young kids, noisy pets, or are prone to mowing their lawn at midnight, there are a variety of ways for them to make your home uncomfortable for you without being aware they’re doing it.

Irresponsible pet owners: these are the ones with dogs they don’t control. They may let their dog(s) bark a lot, run around off the leash, or they just don’t bother picking up after their dogs.

The property line fanatics: Most properties share some responsibilities – whether it’s bushes planted on the border between properties, or a tree on one property that has branches hanging over another property, there are always opportunities for neighbors to disagree about who is responsible for what.

The disorderlies: whether they’re drunk, selling drugs out of their house, and/or leaving trash and litter on and around their property, these people can be the worst neighbors – even to the point of being dangerous.

What to Do About It

If your neighbors are breaking the law, you do have the option of calling the cops or filing a complaint in court, but those should both be last resorts.

First, remember that kindness and manners can get you a long way. If your neighbor is doing something that’s bothering you, ask them nicely to stop. Don’t accuse them, just point out how what they’re doing is disruptive and offer solutions you can both work on together. If you have their phone number, call them ahead of time and schedule a time to talk, otherwise you can meet them on the property line or sidewalk (neutral territory) to discuss the issues.

If they don’t respond to common decency, then you can look up your local noise and disturbance ordinances and write them a personal letter. Keep a copy for yourself so you have a record of your correspondence (email will also work, because then there’s a record of when you sent the correspondence).

If your home is part of a homeowner’s association or you live in a condominium, you can ask your homeowner’s/condominium association to send your neighbor a standard letter citing the ordinance or by-law. Many of these associations also have their own rules inhabitants are required to live by, so even if your neighbors aren’t breaking the law, they might be in violation of the building’s rules, in which case you can get assistance from your condo association in getting your neighbors to cooperate.

If you’re still unsuccessful, then you can call your local precinct. Be sure to maintain your own record of your complaint.

Your local police precinct can also help you find a professional mediator who can help you and your neighbor reach a mutually agreeable solution.

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