Dealing with nightmare neighbors

Unless you live on the Ponderosa with the Cartwrights, you'll probably have to deal with your neighbors to some degree. The reality is this: when we live in fairly close proximity to our neighbors, someone is bound to irritate someone else. But if it’s happening to you, that’s not much comfort!

Here are some ideas on how you can deal with a neighbor who may not be neighborly enough:

1. Get to know them. Begin by establishing even a little bit of a relationship. Find at least something that you have in common. Just knowing them well enough to say “GO DAWGS!” can be the first step in building a relationship. Issues are much more likely to escalate among strangers than even casual acquaintances.

2. Set a good example with your own behavior. If you are planning a party, go to all nearby neighbors and invite them to the party. Then give them a card with your phone number. If the noise gets too high or there is another problem, your neighbor can call you instead of the police.

3. Keep good notes of serious problems. When a neighbors’ actions annoy you, keep a written record of the details – times, dates, and maybe even photos. A written record helps you decide if this is really worth worrying about. Next, you have info to back you up when you explain the situation to the offending neighbor. And finally, if it gets that far, good notes can show authorities you’re serious and organized, not some crackpot who is always unhappy.

4. Try to have a friendly talk with the neighbor. Tell your neighbor what the issue is, and exactly what you would like. Don’t assume they know what the problem is. Ask for their thoughts, and try to offer a solution that is some compromise. Stay calm and upbeat, even if they’re not.

5. As a last resort, call the police. If you’ve tried your best and the problem persists, it may be time to call the cops. You can explain the situation and show how you’ve tried to work it out and kept accurate notes, but they probably can’t do much unless a law is being broken. 

Remember that the police are not there to solve personal disagreements & problems. 

This step is for things like late-night partying and drug sales, not a disagreement over a paint color or a boundary line. That being said, a visit from the cops might show your neighbor that you're serious about resolving the issue.

BOTTOM LINE: Communication is the key to being a good neighbor. Be proactive and be a good neighbor yourself.  And remember that you may end up living near these folks for many years to come.