You know that wherever you live — be it an apartment, condo, duplex, or single-family home — your house is your castle. But having bad neighbors can make you feel like putting up a mote, with spikes, and crocodiles, and a big old drawbridge.
Sometimes it can feel like your only option is to get out of there, and fast. But don’t worry, we’re here to help. We’ve composed a list of ways to deal with not-so-pleasant neighbors, without having to put a “for sale” sign on your lawn.
The 3 types of bad neighbor:
These neighbors may include everyone from parents of misbehaved kids who are left to run amok, to drivers who can’t comprehend residential parking restrictions.
You may also encounter neighbors in this category who are irresponsible pet owners leaving you “gifts” on your lawn, or that “friend” next door who asks you to loan them $20 every week but never pays you back.
Oh, and then there’s the sloppy neighbor who leaves their cans out for days after garbage collection, or allows the grass to grow out to heights comparable to those of the Manchurian steppes. The list does go on.
These include the party animals, the screamers, the gossips, and the general nuisances.
If a household full of musicians who practice honing their craft all day (and night) at volumes that could wake the dead have parked themselves in your vicinity, they fall into this category. If you have a particularly nosy neighbor who enjoys spreading your personal business all around town, they belong here too.
The less offensive — but equally disruptive — do-it-yourselfer may also became a disturber-of-the-peace, if their ongoing renovations violate local noise restrictions later in the day.
These are the neighbors who don’t really get personal boundaries.
Think neighbors who are always dropping by unannounced, who talk your ear off without asking if you have the time for company.
Maybe they aren’t so friendly. Some neighbors might leave unwanted items on your property. Some neighbors will get out of sorts about a bush or tree leaning over your property line into theirs.
And then, there’s the worst case scenario: they make you downright uncomfortable. They’re stealing from you, threatening you, or blatantly running a criminal business in their home.
To deal with bad neighbors:
1. Get to know one another
It’s a great idea to get to know your neighbors right off the bat. Introduce yourself and find some common ground. That way if any issues should arise in the future, you may find them easier to resolve. Like the old saying goes, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
2. Identify problems before they happen
Sometimes, in hindsight, it’s easy to see where a conflict began. You can draw from past experiences to ensure you’re not the source of any problems.
For example, if you’re planning on hosting a party, take the first step and inform all your neighbors ahead of time. This way, they’ll be less likely to get upset if things get a little louder than you planned later on.
This will go a long way should any future conflicts arise with your neighbors.
3. Keep a record of any existing problems
It’s important to document everything, not just for your own records but in case you need to take the problem to court in the future.
Although this may seem extreme at this point, it’s critical to protect yourself from a legal standpoint. Conflicts between neighbors can quickly become a game of “He said, she said.” A clear record of events will eliminate any confusion and help you keep your story straight.
4. Try to resolve problems by talking about them
Before involving a third party or legal intervention, it’s best to try to resolve things between you and your neighbor. After all, we’re all adults here, right?
Try inviting them over for a coffee and working things out face-to-face. Remember how in step one, the advice was to get to know one another before you spot a problem? This is where that advice becomes really valuable. Friends are much more likely to listen to you than strangers.
5. Confer with your other neighbors
Of course, sometimes even the most good-natured efforts to make amends will be in vain. If that’s the case, you may need to seek backup from other neighbors who share your plight.
Start by speaking with the neighbors you have the best rapport with. Again, this is where a solid, friendly foundation from the start comes into play.
Ask around the neighborhood to see if any of your neighbors share your concerns. If so, the offending neighbor may be convinced to tone down their antics when confronted with several parties.
6. Get a third party to mediate
Much like the last strategy, this option involves getting someone else involved in the hopes that the offending party will listen. Only this time, the third party should be unbiased and uninvolved in the issue in question.
For example, try inviting a neighbor to the table who is familiar with both yourself and the offending party, but who isn’t officially taking sides. This may help the situation end in a compromise.
When to involve the law:
When you’ve exhausted all other avenues, and negotiation doesn’t seem to be working, taking the legal route may be your only strategy. If that’s the case, don’t fret — you still have a few options left.
1. Call police
It’s never ideal to get law enforcement involved, but in extreme cases it could be necessary. If you, your family, or your property are being threatened, this may be your only option.
You should call the police if you’ve already tried to negotiate and things have escalated beyond your control. If your neighbors are breaking the law and making you feel unsafe, and you have expended every reasonable option available to you, it’s time to get the police involved.
2. Get a lawyer
Sometimes disputes between neighbors can be solved with simple mediation, while other times tensions escalate beyond reason. In these cases, legal intervention may be necessary.
If the problem gets so out of hand with your neighbor — lets say, they’ve started leaving unwanted items on your property, like garbage for example, or cutting down your trees — that you feel you can’t handle it alone, seeking legal advice may be a good idea.
3. Take it to small claims court
If you’re having ongoing troubles with a neighbor, you’ve sought legal advice, and you have taken all the steps necessary to engage your neighbor in reasonable discussions to resolve the problem, you may find yourself in small claims court.
It’s not necessary in many cases. Sometimes a lawyer can mediate between both parties and resolve the problem. Other times, it’s not so simple.
For example, your neighbor accidentally swiped the side of your vehicle with theirs when pulling into your shared driveway, and now refuses to pay for the damages. In this case, you would have to take the neighbor to court in order to obtain a judgment for your money.
Whether you’re in a rut because you live next to noisy never-seepers, or your domestic discord arose from some misunderstanding, you can rest assured that you are not alone. NeighborsFromHell is a community message board where frustrated homeowners like yourself can message one another and even seek advice to help with their situation. Similarly, AnnoyingNeighbors is a forum where homeowners can vent their problems and commiserate with one another.
Whatever you’re facing, we hope this article helped, and we wish you luck in your endeavors.