6 Tips for Dealing With Difficult Neighbors

By Erika Riggs

Your home may be your castle, or your refuge, or your treasured investment, but those warm and fuzzy feelings can sometimes, unfortunately, be rudely intruded upon by your neighbors.

Rusted cars strewn about the property, right in your line of vision?

Unkempt grounds, which make you consider volunteering for clean-up duty so you spruce up your view.

A dog that incessantly barks at passers-by, gusts of wind or its own shadow?

A fence or garden lawn sculpture that flaunts the bounds of good taste?

Any of these nerve-wracking scenarios is enough to sour your domestic tranquility and prompt unpleasant thoughts of revenge or moving far away, fast.

While you can try and turn a blind eye to the things driving that you nuts, there are few things you can do to mitigate frustrations born of a nuisance neighbor. The key goal is to not conflate the problem or make a tricky situation any worse.

1. Communicate first

How well do you know your neighbor? Have you considered that they may have a good reason for not mowing their lawn or a broken-down vehicle in their driveway? It is easy to jump to conclusions, or harbor feelings of anger. But sometimes, it’s impossible to know or anticipate what your neighbor’s situation might be. Before you do anything, like call the police or municipal code enforcement agencies, it is wise to talk face-to-face with your neighbor. Approach your issue respectfully and see if any amends can be made. You may get an unfriendly response, but sometimes, the mere act of your concerns may prompt a positive response you would have never anticipated.

2. Talk to other neighbors or a homeowners association

If you live in a neighborhood with a homeowners’ association, it may be most appropriate to address your concerns in this group setting. You can vet the problem, including steps you’ve already taken to try and mitigate the situation. If you don’t have an association, it can still be be helpful to seek the counsel of other neighbors. If you are renting, you may also take the issues to your landlord, who may have ties to the neighborhood that can achieve better results.