5 Tips For Dealing with Difficult Neighbors

by Lauren Caggiano

So, you found your dream house in your dream neighborhood. But there’s one thing you didn’t account for: difficult neighbors. From noisy to sloppy, there are all types of offenders. What happens when you get stuck with a less than pleasant neighbor or neighbors? Don’t sweat it. Look no further than these tips for some help so you can save your sanity and diffuse the situation.

1. FOLLOW THE GOLDEN RULE

If you want a good neighbor, show yours some common decency. Say hello, keep noise to a minimum, maintain your yard and pick up after your dog. If someone expresses a concern about your property or lifestyle, don’t take it personally. Don’t shrug it off or become defensive. If it’s about your dog’s barking, it’s not a personal attack. Simply address the person’s concerns and try to remedy the situation if need be. Courtesy is contagious and much appreciated. Apps like Nextdoor may help you connect on a different level and forge relationships.

2. PICK YOUR BATTLES

Is your neighbor’s kid doing something that’s grating on you? Some things aren’t worth addressing. If it’s something that’s affecting your daily quality of life, it might be worth the trouble. However, if it’s a minor annoyance, then you might be best served to “grin and bear it.” You don’t want to be thought of as “that neighbor,” after all.

3. PLAY NICE—BUT NOT TOO NICE

A good starting point to temper relations is to simply reach out to the other party. Many people are afraid of confrontation, but it helps to reframe the encounter as a simple conversation. Don’t apologize for reaching out. Start with a simple introduction, then explain your concern and see if you both can work something out. You just might find that your trouble neighbor isn't so horrible after all. You might even share mutual concerns. However, if the conversation goes south and the person gets aggressive, don’t further engage. Make it clear that you're not there to argue. If your neighbor persists, leave, but don't despair. If the matter is serious enough, you can always get the authorities involved. That should be a last result, though.

4. DO YOUR HOMEWORK

If you plan to take action, it’s always best to back your argument with material that supports your case. Be prepared to cite ordinances and regulations on noise, trash, curfews, etc., that govern your homeowner's association, city, country and even state. Document any issues with photos, if possible, so you can have specific examples to showcase.

5. HELP YOURSELF

If you fail to get through to the troublesome neighbor, you can always take measures to cancel out offensive noise with white noise or soundproof your home. Turn on a fan or play music with calming and ambient sound effects. Earplugs are another tried and tested way to help you focus or sleep better. If you are dealing with children or pets entering your property, then consider putting up a privacy fence.

DUE DILIGENCE

Perhaps the best way to avoid a nightmare neighbor is to research the neighborhood before you move in. Take a walk through the area. Make sure you are comfortable with the sights and sounds. Drive by at 9 p.m. and if you hear loud music blasting from a house, then that might be the first sign of a potential problem. Do property owners leave trash outside? Do you hear dogs barking? You might even survey some of the residents and get their input on the neighborhood. A 5-minute conversation could save you some hassle down the road.

What are your tips for handling bad neighbors? Share in the comments.

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