The “Neighborly” Thing to Do

One of the benefits of being a homeowner is having your own property and personal space. Traditionally, being a homeowner will include living next to a neighbor. Neighbors are typically very good people to know and trust, as you may need their help at some point. On occasion, however, circumstances involving neighbors may not be so favorable.

From time to time, not so pleasant neighbor-related issues may arise. Let’s examine some examples of potential problems and reasonable ways to deal with these matters.

PET ISSUES: Let’s imagine that your neighbor’s pet is being loud, unruly and/or taking care of business on your front lawn. The neighbors in question may not be aware that you can hear their pet or they may not have seen the pet make a mess on your beautiful lawn. Let some time pass and re-evaluate in a week. If nothing improves, then pick a good time (during the day, weekends work well) and approach the neighbor. Make sure that you are not yelling when you inquire and bring up the issue casually. Good neighbors will take the hint and make sure to correct the problem. If the problem persists, bring it up again in a somewhat more assertive manner.

CHILDREN:  Use patience when you are tempted to complain about the neighbors’ children. It can be upsetting when you have a lovely, well-maintained lawn and the neighbors’ children are riding their bikes and leaving track marks.  Perhaps they’re impinging upon your petunias, or using your property as an athletic field. Try to learn the first names of the children and just talk to them. Ideally they’ll understand the idea of where the boundaries are. If not, talk with the parents. Just use some patience and speak respectfully. Bear in mind we were all kids once.

PARTIES NEXT DOOR: Try to keep your cool when there is a full-blown party going on next door. If this is a once a year situation, try to just deal with it and not say anything as long as your property is not damaged in some way. However, if this is a frequent occurrence and results in you having to get up and go to work tired and irritable, you need to talk with the neighbors. Then, if need be, start documenting the times of the parties and/or loud music, so you will have a record of the disturbance times. If you have a homeowners’ association, call or write them for assistance in enforcement of the guidelines. You may have to call the police if the problem persists, particularly if noise ordinances are not being respected and observed. Notifying the police should be a last resort as you will probably not be on good terms with your neighbors after that.

PROPERTY LINES: Talk with your neighbor before cutting down a tree you believe is on your property, Neighbors may well disagree with your assessment of the property line and contend the tree is growing on their land. Similar issues may develop concerning fence boundaries and repairs. Someone or everyone may have to dig out a copy of the survey of the property/properties in question to determine whose tree it really is – or who is responsible for repairing the fence that blew down. A good neighborly talk, with everyone keeping their cool, is always preferable to ending up in a legal battle.

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