If there’s one single homeowner’s challenge that can ruin a dream home, it has to be rude, toxic, obnoxious, or just plain awful neighbors. Whether your once-perfect situation has been spoiled by new neighbors, or you’ve just found out that your new home is next to the block’s worst occupant, we have some peaceful, lawful advice to help you deal with your bad neighbors.
1.) Open a Friendly Dialog
While it may seem like your neighbor absolutely has to be aware that their booming bass is an outrageous breach at 2 a.m., people frequently do not understand how their choices are affecting those around them. Once inside the safety and privacy of their four walls, homeowners can retreat into a mindset that leaves them feeling isolated and removed from society. This can mean that they truly don’t realize that their behavior is bothersome to others.
In such cases, a non-confrontational approach is always your best first step. We recommend approaching the situation with the perspective that there’s been a simple misunderstanding.
A non-confrontational tactic could sound like this: “Sorry to knock at such a late hour. I wanted to let you know that I’m having trouble getting to sleep because your music is making it all the way to my room. Do you think you could turn it down a bit? I would be so appreciative!”
Nearly always, this kind of gentle, yet clear communication will elicit a positive, cooperative response. If it doesn’t, keep reading—we’ve got more solutions for you.
2.) Read Your HOA Rules
Are you part of an HOA? Take a look at the HOA rules, and see if your neighbor’s behavior violates any of the by-laws. If so, the Home Owners Association itself may be able to help you settle the dispute.
3.) Consider Mediation
If you’re having trouble communicating with your neighbor successfully and you aren’t within HOA boundaries, you can take steps to involve an independent mediator to help you solve your issues.
4.) Examine Local Laws
Before you pick up the phone and call the police department’s non-emergency line, take some time to read the laws and ordinances that apply to your location. It can be eye-opening to see how much such guidelines vary regionally. It’s a good idea to have a solid grasp on what rules (if any) your neighbor is violating before you call the authorities.
5.) Aggressive or Violent Neighbors? Involve Local Law Enforcement Immediately
Of course, if your neighbors are violent or threatening, or are clearly violating local noise ordinances (and won’t settle down), then it’s definitely time to call the police. After that, it’s only a matter of waiting for assistance to arrive.
Hopefully, your neighbors will get the message and realize that their behavior will only result in police knocking on their door. Before too long, peace should return to your block.
6.) Tips on Settling Damage Disputes
Did a neighbor’s burst water heater or exploding pipe result in water damage to your property? Did their tree fall and flatten your fence?
In most cases, such damage is covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy. However, if your neighbor caused damage through their own home improvements or misuse of their property, you will need to work with your local public works or government zoning office.
If your neighbor is deemed to be legally responsible for your property’s damage, they are likewise responsible for repair and restoration. Hopefully, you’ll only have to ask politely. However, sometimes homeowners have to take their neighbors to court to settle such disputes.
7.) Pet Problems
Your neighbor may have no idea that their beloved pooch is barking 10 hours a day while they are gone at work, in which case a gentle conversation is still the way to go.
On the other hand, some pet owners leave waste on your lawn, allow their pet to roam the neighborhood, or ignore fence-chewing, any of which can seriously impact your enjoyment (as well as the curb appeal) of your home.
Fortunately, most communities have laws in place to moderate such seriously poor pet parenting. If you aren’t getting anywhere with your neighbor, don’t hesitate to call animal control to share your concerns. Have photos of damage or roaming pets, “barking time” logged, and dates of any conversations you’ve had with your neighbor on hand for an animal control officer to examine. The more evidence you present of an ongoing problem, the more power the city or county has to intervene on your behalf.
Most of us would spend ages avoiding taking anyone to court, but when moving isn’t an option, and your dispute is impossible to resolve, litigation may be necessary. Hire a lawyer to take a look at your case; if you have legal standing to bring action against your neighbor, and a lawyer willing to represent you before a judge, this may be the only way forward.
Remember, sometimes just a notice of impending legal action can be what it takes to capture your neighbor’s attention and earn some respect. Still, legal disputes are lengthy, expensive, stressful, and not necessarily guaranteed to work out in your favor, so we must stress that this approach should only be used as a truly last resort.
While most of us will deal with a difficult neighbor at some point in our lives, it’s nevertheless potentially a huge damper on one’s quality of life. We wish you a swift, relatively conflict-free resolution to your hassles.
Have you successfully dealt with a bad neighbor? We would love to hear from you in the comments below. Of course, we don’t want you to face trouble due to naming any parties involved, so confidentiality is key! Do let us know the problem you faced, and any tactics that worked to bring harmony back to your street.