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Dealing with Bad Neighbors

Bad Neighbors, Loud Music

If you are like the majority, you have had at least one neighbor that has rubbed you the wrong way. Whether they play loud music, mow their lawn at 6am, rev the engine on their vehicle (the one that lacks a muffler) it has probably caused some tension between your household and theirs.

The first step should always be a calm and cool visit to your neighbor’s home, but before you do, collect your thoughts on paper. Write down your grievances, not to present to them, but to ensure that you make a clear and concise plea for your plight.

Choose the correct time for your visit. Do not catch them as they are leaving for work or immediately upon their arrival home. An attempt to talk to them during these times will not assure you that they are listening and will give you full consideration.

Be respectful. You should respect their property as if it were your own. Do not walk across their lawn but use the walkway instead. Always use the front door, not a side or back door; it is a clear sign of respect.

If it is possible, speak to the owner of the home. Do not leave a message with the kids or the gardener. If you should be met with the fact that the owner is not home, excuse yourself and let the person who answered the door know that you will return at another time.

When you do get the opportunity to speak with them, request that it be done in private, away from the children if there are any living in the household. The home owner is the responsible party and you would not want to bring the children into a potentially uncomfortable situation. Getting children involved in the conflict can cause almost certain animosity between them and your children.

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Now it comes down to the actual talk. Speak clearly and explain how their negative behavior is affecting your household. Here is an example of a clear, non-confrontational meeting:

Set – up: Jerry and Sally have been living next door to Bob and Carol for three years. Every Saturday night, Bob and Carol have friends over and they sit out in the backyard and listen to loud music. They do not turn the music down until dawn.

The confrontation: Jerry and Sally walk to the front of Bob and Carol’s house at 6:30pm on a Tuesday evening. Bob and Carol’s fourteen year-old daughter answer the door.

Jerry: Hi, are your mom and dad available?
Daughter: Yes, let me get them.
(Bob and Carol come to the door)
Jerry: Can Sally and I talk to you in private?
(Bob and Carol step outside and close the door behind them)
Jerry: Let’s talk over by the driveway.
(They all walk to the driveway)
Jerry: Sally and I wanted to speak to you about the loud music that is played at your house on the weekends. Sally and I normally go to bed around midnight on the weekends and it is difficult for us to get to sleep because our bedroom window meets up with your backyard. Could we come to some type of an agreement on how to resolve the problem with the loud music being played after midnight?
Bob: I’m really sorry Jerry. We didn’t know it bothered you and we can move our party indoors before midnight if that would help.
Jerry: That would be great Bob. Thank you for being understanding.
(The two men exchange handshakes and all is resolved)

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Isn’t it a lovely scenario, but if your first meeting does not go as smoothly as this one, you may have to move to the next step. Put your grievances in writing and deliver these to them via snail mail. To ensure that your neighbor has received your written plea, send it via certified mail.

You should list your grievances without threats. Do use the words “if you don’t” or “you had better”. Let this letter be a review of the grievances you displayed when you made your visit to their home.

Should that step not resolve your issue, consult with an attorney and advise your local authorities of the situation. Keep well-documented records of any behavior that you have been complaining about.

Most conflicts can be resolved by simple confrontation and working out a plan with your neighbors that both households can be happy with. You may become good friends in the process.