Trying to figure out how to handle unpleasant neighbors can be very difficult. Nothing is worse than purchasing a home only to discover that your neighbors are nightmares. However, you don't have to just put up with your unpleasant neighbors or the tension on the block. With the correct attitude, you may use it as an opportunity to establish a strong rapport and improve the atmosphere for both you and the other residents of your area.
First off, make sure you’re not a bad neighbor.
It's simple to recognize what your neighbor is doing to irritate you, but a little more challenging to comprehend how your actions may be impacting them. Make sure you're as near to a model homeowner as you can be before addressing a neighbor since you'll never convince them to change their ways if they believe you're the issue. Several challenging questions to consider:
- What is the volume of your voice? Any time of day, loud TV, music, or machinery can irritate the neighbors. Even common noise, such as that from mowing the lawn, shouldn't keep people from sleeping in or keep them from having a calm evening
- Are your pets nice and quiet? Dogs who are disruptive, aggressive, or roaming, as well as roaming cats, might irritate their neighbors.
- Do you maintain cleanliness? It can look bad if your yard is overgrown or if your children's toys are left lying around. Neighbors might begin to worry that your shoddy home upkeep will lower the value of their own properties
- Respecting property lines? Unless your neighbors expressly agree, don't allow your trees, fences, or any other property to intrude on a property line. Although it may appear finicky, it can stop many kinds of conflicts
- Do you engage in tit-for-tat? If you began parking outside of the property line because the neighbor's dog was barking excessively, you would never determine who was truly at fault or come up with a workable solution. No matter how small, revenge is never effective in removing undesirable neighbors.
Develop a friendly relationship.
Introduce yourself at the first opportunity so that you have a strong rapport to build upon if a problem arises. It will be a lot harder for your neighbor to keep causing you grief if they see you as a friendly face.
To start a pattern of good communication, tell your neighbor in advance any time you’re having a party, doing a renovation, or anything else that could create noise or commotion.
Assume good intentions.
When you want to talk to a neighbor about something, don't approach them with all guns blazing. Come by and introduce yourself and the topic in a nice way, or if you need to gently elevate the situation, ask them to meet you for coffee. That will show that you care a lot about the problem.
It's advisable to avoid appearing accusatory toward your neighbors because they frequently aren't aware that they are causing an issue. Put yourself in their position and begin by presuming that their unruly behavior is not motivated by resentment toward you.
Be sympathetic if your neighbor complains.
While it’s important to bring up problems to your neighbor in a constructive way, it’s just as crucial to be thoughtful and cooperative when you’re the one accused of poor behavior. The complaint may not make much sense to you — for example, leaves from a tree on your property falling into your neighbor’s yard. But it’s more important to be friendly and accommodating than to be “right.” Respond to any complaints or requests the way you’d like them to respond to yours. If you’re willing to try to make their lives better, they’ll be more likely to do the same for you.
Document everything, just in case.
With luck, you won’t ever need to involve a third party when sorting out how to deal with bad neighbors, but it’s always possible. While it’s worth doing everything you can to resolve an issue peacefully and willingly, you should also document every step along the way just in case. On the off chance that you need to involve a homeowner association (HOA), a neighborhood group, the city building department, or even the local police or an attorney, maintain a record of relevant dates, times, emails, texts, and even photos, so the facts are at your fingertips if you need them.
Research the rules before taking action.
Before turning your complaint into legal action or a formal complaint, make sure you know what you’re talking about. Contact the local housing department, consult a lawyer, talk to your HOA, or just do some solid Googling to get a sense of what the neighborhood rules and the law have to say about your issue. You want to make sure you’re on the right side of things before making a big deal out of i. (For one of the most common neighbor problems, check out the handy guide to easements.) Then — again, in a gentle and friendly way — you can let your neighbor know that the law or rules are on your side.
For critical issues, contact the authorities.
Of course, friendly conversations don’t always fix everything, even if you’re in the right. If you’ve tried everything else and the problem neighbors haven’t stopped their offending behavior, it may be time to get the authorities involved. Just make sure you consult the right authority about the issue — and always make the police your last stop. For instance, an issue with trash all over someone’s lawn can probably be resolved with the city’s code enforcement department. And a noisy or frequently loose dog might warrant a call to your HOA before the police or animal control.
Avoid scenarios likely to cause conflict.
Some situations between neighbors are almost guaranteed to cause conflict — for example, buying a home next to one that shows signs of being a hoarder house or one with a shared driveway. No matter how likable your neighbors may seem, tensions are likely to arise in situations like this. So unless you know your neighbor extremely well, it’s best to avoid the possibility entirely.