What To Do About Difficult Neighbors
Sharing property lines and/or walls with a stranger is not always easy. How you coexist with your neighbors can make the difference between living in harmony and living in discord. Whether you own or rent, you shouldn’t have to deal with neighbors who interfere with your peace and quiet. If you are unable to coexist with your neighbor, depending on the dispute, there may be remedies available to you under the law.
Nuisance neighbors come in all shapes and sizes. There are neighbors who don’t take care of their property; those who make more than a reasonable amount of noise; those who don’t pick up after their dogs and are not responsible when it comes to their pets; those who engage in illegal activities; and those who are just difficult to deal with. Some nuisances you will just have to endure; however, you may need to pursue legal action if tolerating this sort of neighbor is no longer an option.
CommunicateThe best way to resolve issues with difficult neighbors, or any neighbor for that matter, is through clear communication. Don’t assume that your neighbor knows that there is a problem. Simply talking to them, identifying the issue, and explaining how it is impacting you typically mitigates or resolves the problem. If, for example, you are having a large party, communicate to neighbors who may be affected by parking or by the noise—or better yet, invite them.
If repeated attempts to communicate fail, and issues keep arising, start documenting the issues, the steps you take to address the issues, and your neighbor’s response. Keep detailed records and notes, including, times, dates, and photos. Good recordkeeping is important for several reasons, but most importantly, can serve as valuable evidence if legal proceedings become necessary.
MediateOne of the best solutions to dealing with difficult neighbors is through mediation—informal and formal. Mediation can cost nothing if done by another neighbor, the property association (if applicable), or some other personal contact, but can cost anywhere from $100 to $500 per hour if an attorney or other third-party is involved. While, in some cases, it is not cheap, mediation can be invaluable if it resolves the issues you’re having with your neighbor. A major benefit of mediation is that the solution to a mediated dispute generally comes from the parties involved, and not from the mediator, as is the case with arbitration or litigation.
Arbitrate or LitigateFinally, if mediation fails, arbitration or litigation may be your only viable course of action in resolving your dispute with your neighbor short of moving. Usually, in order to get relief from a court for a neighbor-related, nuisance claim, the offending action must be substantial and continuous. Other, typical claims against unsavory neighbors, can include claims for trespass and property damage against the neighbor, as well as potential claims against the association if you are part of an association and the association is not enforcing its rules or otherwise taking steps to resolve your complaints.
If you are dealing with a difficult neighbor, it may be time to consult an attorney. Find a lawyer by quickly posting a short summary of your legal needs on Legal Services Link, and let the perfect lawyer come to you!
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