The Nightmare Next Door Neighbour

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Ever had a bad neighbour experience? So many people around the world are faced with living next door to people who have no regard for personal and communal space.

Most people have had their own experiences of loud dogs, noisy parties or the odd domestic dispute. But sometimes these small irritations slowly become part of everyday life, often for years on end.

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Thinkstock

So, how do you deal with this kind of nightmare? Here are a few ways to deal with neighbours from hell:

Get to know each other

Being a good neighbour doesn’t mean taking family vacations together. Just knowing the people next door well enough to greet them, or maybe borrow a cup of sugar or lend them a gardening tool can build trust and understanding. Issues are much more likely to escalate when you are dealing with complete strangers rather than casual acquaintances.

Deal with problems before they’re problems

If you are throwing a party at your place, notify your neighbours who might be affected and offer them a verbal invitation and a card with your phone number. If the noise escalates or there is another problem, they can call you instead of the police.

Document the problem

When an issue comes up, start keeping notes – times, dates and photos, if necessary. This can help in three ways: First, you will be able to evaluate the seriousness of the problem – looking at it on paper, you may realise it’s not such a big deal, or you might see a solution. Second, you have info to back you up when you explain the situation to your neighbour. And finally, if push comes to shove, good record-keeping can show authorities you’re organised. With evidence in hand, you’re won’t appear emotional and whiny.

Talk it out

Tell your neighbour what’s bothering you – don’t assume they know what the problem is. Be open and direct, not passive and aggressive. Ask for their input, and wherever possible, propose a solution that splits the difference and demonstrates willingness to compromise. Stay cool and positive, even if they’re not.

Check with other neighbours

See if anybody else in the block is having similar issues – they may be willing to help resolve it. If one of the neighbours is closer to the troublemaker, have them come with you when you talk it out. If you’re part of the homeowners’ association, speak with them about the problem and see if they can resolve it more easily than you can.

Get a mediator

A neutral third party experienced in settling disputes may succeed where you can’t, although it can only work if your neighbour is willing to talk. It’s a lot cheaper than going to court, though – in some cases, it may even be free.

Call the cops

If you’ve acted in good faith with no success, involving the police is the next step. You can explain the situation and show how you’ve tried to work it out and kept notes. However, you must realise they probably can’t do much unless a law or ordinance is being broken. This is for things like excessive noise and illegal activity, not a tree limb hanging in your yard. Nonetheless, police presence might show your neighbour that you aren’t going to let the problem go.

As with any relationship, being a good neighbour – or dealing with a bad one – is all about communication.