How To Handle A Difficult Neighbor: Strategies for Reducing Neighborhood Conflict
We have all had a couple of "bad" neighbors in our day. You know the ones I'm talking about. Whether it's blaring music in the wee hours of the morning, unkempt yards, or a myriad of other rude or thoughtless activities, the occasional bad neighbor rears his or her ugly head and leaves you, the homeowner, frustrated. But what can be done if the occasional weekly raucous turns into a nightly block party? Obviously, I might suggest moving to a new, beautiful beach home or condo in the Daytona Beach area, but for those not ready to escape, I offer a few non-self-serving bits of advice.
Kill Them With Kindness
Please do not actually kill them. In fact, let's rule out any bodily harm toward that pesky neighbor. Depending on how communication has gone with your neighbor to this point, I might suggest a somewhat old-fashioned approach. Cook a dish (or purchase if your cooking will do more harm) and bring the food over to the nuisance neighbor as a sort of peace offering. I think it is hard to be crabby or obtuse when you have a fresh-baked pie or casserole dish staring you in the face. Then, while your neighbor is distracted by the delicious aromas of your dish, politely attempt to discuss any areas of concern you have with your new friend.
Write The Neighbor A Letter
I am not naive enough to think all problems can be solved with fresh baked cookies and a smile. Face-to-face encounters can often become heated, depending on the history and severity of the neighbor's actions. To avoid any possible altercation, I would suggest writing a polite, professional, and detailed letter of your concerns to your neighbor.
When you finish the letter, always reread it. If possible, even have another outside source read it also. You want to avoid any contemptuous or threatening language in your letter. Nobody responds well to this sort of confrontation, so if your letter does have an aggressive feel, discard it and think of it as a therapeutic release of your own emotions. If you do feel comfortable with your letter., drop it off at his door and hope your neighbor will see the possible err of his or her ways and work to rectify the situation.
Add in Privacy Barriers
If your neighbor is difficult, you can add privacy barriers that help divide your two properties. This doesn't have to be as obvious as a ten-foot stockade fence, but you can give yourself privacy from the neighbor if there isn't any. Consider fast-growing shrubs or a section of privacy fence to keep your yard out of the neighbor's view. While you may want to try and get along with your neighbor, this isn't always possible.
Avoid arguments by taking care of any hazards that could creep onto your neighbor's property, such as yard debris or broken tree limbs. Give yourself privacy with the use of shrubs, trees, and fencing to avoid conflict with your neighbor. Think about the type of barriers you use, especially anything that might be unattractive to your neighbor. Putting up an ugly fence might feel good at first, but this will only escalate tension between you and a difficult neighbor.
Try to find common ground, and don't be pulled into a fight with someone you aren't on good terms with. If reaching out and being kind doesn't work, create an outdoor space you enjoy while protecting the view from your neighbor's home.
Contact Proper Authorities
At the end of the day, you have the right to be happy and comfortable in your own home. If all other attempts fail and the neighbor's actions are completely out of line, there may be officials that you can contact to help improve the conditions. If it's a noise complaint, your local police can be called. If it's a jungle next door, each city has departments that can be called to bring your neighbor into compliance with local codes and regulations on lawn maintenance.
In the end, regardless of the problem or complaint, there is most likely someone whose job it is to help rectify these situations. It is better to have these people confront the problem neighbor than make the situation worse by handling it yourself.
For every one of these "bad" neighbors, though, there are many, many great neighbors. Don't let one person or household interrupt your life or happiness.