In an ideal world, we’d all get along with our neighbors, be able to talk, socialize, and borrow each other’s hedge trimmers. It’s not always that picture-perfect and sometimes issues arise that need to be dealt with.
How you deal with these issues can have a significant effect on your future relationship with them, and could make your life difficult. After all, you want to feel safe and secure in your own neighborhood, not isolated from the people around you.
Benefits of having a good relationship with your neighbors
Having a great relationship with the people who live around you has a number of benefits for you and your family. Not only do you have another friendly face to talk to, but they’ll be more likely to be considerate about your needs.
Close neighbors look out for each other and their property, making it safer for everyone. If you’re going on vacation, your neighbors can keep a lookout on your property, take your trash cans out, feed your fish, or similar.
You can borrow items from them in a pinch. Need a hammer or a spare serving platter? Just pop next door and ask.
Good neighbors can become our friends. The people we socialize with, carpool the kids with, have BBQs in the summer or house sit their cats.
Clearly, there are huge benefits to trying to kindle that old fashioned neighborliness.
Types of disputes
Disputes arise between neighbors for a number of reasons. Some of the most common ones are:
- Boundary disputes
- Loud noise, music
- Unruly, loud pets
- Overgrown hedges
- Children being rowdy or misbehaving
- Violent and threatening behavior
Why it’s important to address these issues
A small issue can cause resentment to build if it is not dealt with. Over time, you’ll find yourself growing more resentful over a relatively innocuous issue. Looking to resolve it a soon as possible is a great way to nip it in the bud before it starts affecting your life in the neighborhood.
Of course, if you suspect your neighbors of committing a crime, then you may need to take legal advice from a company like Leinart Law Firm and contact the police.
How should you try and resolve your issues?
The key is not to act rashly. Don’t confront anyone when you’re angry and upset. You are more likely to do more harm than good. The situation may spiral out of control quickly.
Contact the police regarding illegal activities
If you suspect there is any illegal activity going on, then you shouldn’t try to deal with things yourself. You need to contact the police and let them deal with it. This can include threatening or harassing behavior towards you, or if you suspect there is the violence of abuse happening. Or you could suspect they are involved in illegal activities of some kind. Either way, alert the authorities, they are best placed to deal with it and you are not putting yourself in unnecessary danger.
Figure out what you want to happen?
Before you talk to your neighbor, consider what you want the outcome to be. For example, if your neighbor is noisy, it might be unreasonable to expect them to be completely quiet 24/7. Instead, perhaps you would like them to keep the noise down during the morning when you’re working, after 11 pm or when the kids go to bed?
Consider their point of view too
Not every issue is a simple case of right and wrong. Just because something really bothers you, it might not be a huge deal to most people. That’s not to say your feelings are unjustified. When you’re deciding how to approach the situation, take a step back, and assess if you are being reasonable.
Approach your neighbor
If you feel it is safe to do so, and you are comfortable doing this. You should approach your neighbor to discuss the problem. If there is any reason to feel they will react in a hostile or violent manner, then you need to take another approach.
Be friendly, let them know why what they are doing bothers you, and what you would like them to do. If you are calm and reasonable, they are more likely to respond in the same way. They may not have even realized what they were doing was bothering you and you can both laugh about it.
If you are going to go to them directly, try and act in a calm and rational way. Storming over there with a list of complaints and demands probably isn’t going to get you the reaction you want, and may well escalate the entire situation needlessly.
If you find it difficult to express yourself in person, consider writing them a note, explaining the situation, how it makes you feel, and what you hope to achieve by writing it. Again, you need to be very careful about how you write the note. It should be a document that takes out all of the negative emotions that might creep into a physical conversation. No one wants to be handed an angry letter with a list of complaints and demands on it.
Always keep a note of the time, date, and content of the conversation in case you need to take it further.
Contact the neighborhood residents association
Many neighborhoods have residents associations that set out various rules and guidelines for people living in the area. You can take your concerns to them and ask them to approach your neighbors on your behalf, and that of other residents. This might be preferable to creating a direct conflict between yourself and your neighbor.
Contact the landlord
If your neighbors are renting the property, then you could approach their landlord regarding their behavior. They may be in breach of their tenancy and liable to be required to move if they don’t begin to follow the terms.
As this is a course of action likely to put them at odds with their landlord, potentially losing their home, you should only do it if there are extreme antisocial behavior problems or illegal activity.
You never know how far a dispute is going to go. It could be resolved by a friendly chat or end up in court. It’s always a good idea to keep evidence of when the behavior occurred, times, and dates you approached them, and the outcome of what was said.
By doing this you’ll have a factual record rather than just having to rely on memory and emotions.
Know when to get legal advice
Certain disputes need to be dealt with by someone with a legal background. This can include border disputes or access rites. Generally, if both parties are disputing something, then it is going to need to be handled by lawyers.
When choosing a lawyer, ensure you pick someone who is experienced in exactly the kind of property law you require. They often know how to resolve things much faster.
Don’t drag others into your dispute
Unless the problem is affecting others, don’t try and recruit everyone to your cause, creating us and them situation. Not only will it lead to more hostility, but you’re also setting a precedent that this is how things are dealt with in your neighborhood. It isn’t a schoolyard, so try and act civilly.
If things seem to end in a stalemate, with neither side willing to budge, then you might want to consider mediation. This is where you both come together and talk to a third party who will help you resolve the problem.
This option is good for complex cases which might not be a clear right/wrong situation. When the problem is down to things such as attitude or lifestyle choices, mediation can be a great way of making you think about the other side of the dispute.
Your mediator will work with you to come up with a compromise that is acceptable to everyone. Their job is to be impartial, gather all of the information, and talk to all parties involved. You’ll then meet at a different location to discuss the mediator’s findings and recommendations.
Having a good relationship with your neighbors bring massive benefits to you and the area you live in. That’s why it can be so upsetting when issues arise between neighbors. In order to resolve your differences, you need to approach the situations calmly and patiently to give you the very best chance of getting the resolution you want.
Act sooner rather than later before your small annoyance becomes a major list of anti-social behavior. Keep your cool, keep a record of the situation, and don’t be afraid to escalate it further should you need to.