Whether you’re a renter or a homeowner, good relationships with neighbors make life easier. But according to some studies, more than one-third of Americans have had full-blown arguments with neighbors, and up to a quarter of people are in the midst of a longstanding feud.
Why do people end up in disputes and how can they work toward a peaceful resolution? Here are some ideas.
The dispute: Fuzzy rental or ownership boundaries
The solution: The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies here. Before using what is considered a shared rental facility or installing a new fence, check with a landlord or have the property surveyed to determine the legal lot line. For the latter, the expense may save money — and a substantial headache — in the long run if it helps prevent conflict.
The dispute: Noisy neighbors
The solution: According to one survey, noise plays a role in nearly half of neighbor disputes. It’s important to discern between one-time occurrences — for example, a last-day-of-school gathering — versus an overall issue with noise disturbances. If noisy apartment neighbors interfere with your quality of life, engage in a neutral, calm conversation about concerns. If things don’t get better over time, involving a landlord or researching local noise ordinances can provide some insight. However, the first step to most neighbor complaints is to try to talk it out before escalating the situation.
The dispute: Wandering pets
The solution: It can be frustrating to come home from work to find the driveway or lawn littered with the leavings of a neighbor’s cat or dog. And some animals can be dangerous when left to prowl the neighborhood unattended. If a low-key conversation doesn’t work, take a look at local regulations governing things like the number of animals allowed per household or per the lease. Then decide the next step to take.
The dispute: Busybody neighbors
The solution: Some neighbors are just curious — a little too curious. If their interest isn’t causing harm, let them be. It’s easy enough to change the topic if the conversation becomes too personal or to convey discomfort with questions they shouldn’t be asking. But it’s typically not worth fighting about something that can’t be controlled.
The dispute: Maintenance issues
The solution: Eyesores aside, unmowed grass and unkept trash piles may be in violation of either tenant or ownership regulations. Again, try to have a conversation first. If neighbors that rent or own are having trouble keeping up their property due to age, illness or finances, offer to lend a helping hand. After all, it’s hard to squabble with someone who’s mowing the lawn.