How to Deal With Tough Neighbors

Jon Fesmire | January 30, 2020 @ 8:00 AM

Most of us just want to live peaceful lives in our homes, but what do you do when a neighbor makes trouble? The problems could be minor, such as throwing loud parties at night or having a dog that relieves itself on your lawn. They could be infractions of your right to your own property, like building a fence partially on your property, or letting tree branches grow into your backyard. They could be illegal, like selling drugs out of their home, thus bringing a criminal element into the neighborhood.

Here are some actions that can help you deal with tough neighbors.

Be a Good Neighbor

The best place to start is by being a good neighbor yourself. If you have a party, schedule it for a time that is considerate to your neighbors. If a neighbor asks you to turn the noise down, apologize and do so. Be kind to your neighbors and don’t be the neighborhood gossip. Keep your home, inside and out, clean and organized. Your neighbors will think better of you.

Be Friendly

Talk to your neighbors when you see them outside. Be friendly, and they’ll be more likely to be friendly with you. Later, if issues arise, it should be easier to discuss solutions with them. This is also a great way to make friends after a move.

Report Problems

Sometimes you may feel unable to confront your neighbors because of a problem like excessive noise. In such a case, if you live in an apartment complex, contact the resident manager. It’s their job to keep things running smoothly, including keeping the peace. The manager can then deal with the problem, from asking the neighbor directly to quiet down to evicting the offender, depending on the severity of the problem and how long it has been going on.

If you live in a house or condo and are part of a homeowner’s association (HOA), you can report similar problems to them.

Document the Issue and Your Actions

Keep notes on when the neighbor’s problem behavior occurs and what actions you took, if any. If you email your complaint to your HOA or apartment manager, this will act as a time-stamped record of the event.

Call the Police

Whether your neighbor refuses to quiet down after midnight or you’re certain they’re selling illegal drugs, you can always call the police.

In many places, all the police can do is knock on the door and ask the offender to turn down the music. They may also observe the house to see if they spot any suspicious activity, though don’t count on this as the police are often busy with other cases. This is where your documentation can help them and show that you’re not simply a prying neighbor, but that you have valid concerns.

Take Them to Small Claims Court

If your neighbor is encroaching on your property, causing you to lose sleep, or creating other problems that negatively impact your life, you may be able to take them to small claims court. We recommend you look up city laws and ordinances. Do a Google search for the municipal codes in your town or city.

Build your case and file it with your city or county courthouse. When you have your day in court, clearly state the problem and provide your documentation and evidence. Also, give the judge an estimate of monetary damages. Dress well in court, and act in a rational, professional manner.

Ideally, you won’t have too many serious issues with your neighbors. But if they do crop up, we hope you find our suggestions helpful.

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