Being the neighborly, “peoply” kind of person, I know who my neighbors are and tend to get along with most of them. Until “that” neighbor shows up. You know the one – they are the new person on the block who immediately starts making themselves a nuisance. They might have a different idea of what constitutes “loud music,” or maybe they just don’t believe in keeping their yard tidy. Whatever the case, sooner or later, you will probably have to deal with a neighbor with whom you just can’t seem to get along.
When it comes to disputes with neighbors, the best course of action is usually to try and resolve the issue amicably. After all, you have to live next to this person, so it’s in your best interest to try and make peace with them. However, there are times when talking things out just isn’t enough.
For example, one woman had a new neighbor move in with dogs, and she also had dogs. So naturally, dogs did what dogs do at the fence with dogs they do not know – bark at each other. Now, if you are a dog person, you know that if the dogs are wagging their tail, they’re all “bark,” no bite. This means they are happy when the tails are wagging. Unless “said” neighbor is standing at the fence yelling at you about your dogs barking. Umm, what?
In most cases, the best thing you can do is try and talk to your neighbor about the problem. If they are receptive, great! If not, then you might have to take a different approach.
After exhausting all other options – sometimes the only way to deal with a problematic neighbor is to get the law involved. Depending on your situation, you might be able to get a restraining order or take your neighbor to small claims court. For example, if the neighbor’s tree falls on your property, sending you to the hospital as a result, that would be a personal injury and a loss of property occurrence that absolutely requires consulting legal counsel.
Of course, no one wants to have to take legal action against their neighbor, but sometimes it is the only way to resolve the issue. So, if you find yourself in a situation where you just can’t seem to get along with your neighbor, don’t be afraid to take action.
Here’s a quick list to run through first:
- Make sure it’s really a problem
- Keep a log of the behavior in question
- Do some research on the rules
- Find out what your other neighbors have to say
- Communicate directly and politely
- Take time to cool off before confrontation
- Have a compromise in mind
- Seek the help of a third party (i.e., an attorney)
There are some laws concerning common neighbor disputes, including:
Boundaries: property lines, trees, and shrubs
Noisy neighbors: noise: loud music, parties, dogs barking
Deeds: right of way, easements
Nuisance: offensive odors, smoke, and light pollution
Property damage: broken windows, graffiti, and vandalism
Safety: guns, fireworks, and abandoned vehicles.
Blocked views: planting trees that block a water view, building a fence that blocks a scenic view
Parking: blocking a driveway, parking in a fire lane
Dumping: garbage, leaves, and snow
How do you address a neighbor’s issue?
Neighbor disputes are quite common. But you don’t have to go to uncommon lengths to work out your differences. Calling the police or suing should not be your first course of action. Instead, one of the easiest things to do is to try talking to your neighbor about the problem.
There are a few things you can do to try to resolve a neighbor dispute without going to court.
1. Talk to your neighbor
The first step is always to try to talk to your neighbor about the problem. If they are receptive, great! If not, then you might have to take a different route.
2. Get to know your neighbors
Another way to try to prevent disputes is to get to know your neighbors. Get their contact information so you can talk to them about problems before they escalate. Attend community events, join a block party, or neighborhood watch group. The more you interact with your neighbors, the more likely you are to be able to resolve issues before they become significant problems.
3. Write a letter
If talking to your neighbor doesn’t work, you can try writing a letter. This can be an effective way to communicate your concerns without coming across as confrontational. In the letter, state the problem and what you would like your neighbor to do about it.
If talking and writing letters don’t work, you can try mediation. This is when an impartial third party helps you and your neighbor talk through the problem and devise a solution. Mediation can be helpful because it takes the pressure off of you and your neighbor to resolve the issue on your own.
Arbitration is similar to mediation, but the arbitrator makes a binding decision about the dispute. This can be helpful if you and your neighbor are really struggling to come to an agreement.
6. Small claims court
You can take your neighbor to small claims court if all else fails. This is usually a last resort because it can be time-consuming and expensive. But sometimes, it is the only way to get justice.
7. Get the law involved
If you have exhausted all other options, you might have to involve the law. Depending on your situation, you might be able to get a restraining order or take your neighbor to small claims court.
Are Neighbor disputes common?
Neighbor and boundary arguments are often unpleasant and challenging, yet they happen all the time. Any disagreement about one’s private home that has not been resolved reasonably is a serious issue, especially when tensions between neighbors are high or there is a possibility of violence.
There are a few key reasons why neighbor disputes become so tricky:
- Property lines are often unclear.
- People feel very passionately about their homes.
- There is often a lack of communication between neighbors.
- Disputes can quickly escalate into legal problems.
How do you handle a dispute with a neighbor?
In conclusion, when dealing with troubling situations with neighbors, it is best to take a deep breath and remember that cooler heads will always prevail. If talking does not seem to get anywhere, other options are available, like mediation or arbitration. And as a last resort, small claims court may be an avenue to explore. Most importantly, try to be reasonable, honest, and respectful throughout the process to find the best resolution possible.