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How To Be a Good Neighbour

It’s a wonderful day in the neighbourhood – or is it? In previous generations, people tended to have close-knit relationships with the people in their own backyards, but today it is more and more common to hardly know one’s neighbours. If you live in an apartment building, or a busy urban setting – you might only see your neighbours now and then, and you don’t really know them at all.

However, if you live in a smaller town, or an area with a more suburban feel, the chances are that you engage with your neighbours to some degree. If you have children, these relationships and bonds might be stronger, as your kids likely pal around with others from the streets around you. If this is the case, your neighbours play a big role in your life, and having a civil, friendly and respectful relationship with them is important.

Homes
Simple Tips for being a good neighbour

    • Introduce Yourself to new neighbours - Whether you are moving into a new neighbourhood or you are a long time resident who sees a new family moving in, introducing yourself to your neighbours is a kind and friendly thing to do. Not only does it break down barriers, it helps to build valuable bonds with the people who live around you. If you are welcoming a new family into the area, consider introducing yourself with a casserole or some baked goods. This will help the new residents settle in and will show that you are someone who can be relied upon to help out when times are stressful.

 

    • Volunteer in your Local Community - Volunteering for a worthy cause is one of the best ways to meet new people and give back to the local community when you first move into a new neighbourhood. Consider walking dogs for a local rescue, helping harvest food from an allotment, or spending time with local seniors.

 

    • Respect Your Neighbours - When you have a bright and shiny new (or new to you) home it can be tempting to want to host a ton of parties, or engage in a lot of loud demolition and construction to help perfect your space. While these urges are normal, it is a good idea to get to know your neighbours before making a lot of noise or mess! Raucous parties are never going to win you many friends, unless your neighbours are in on the fun!

 

    • Love Your Home - We all have busy schedules, but nothing can irritate your neighbours more than neglecting your front garden, fence or the façade of your home. If you don’t keep up on your weekly, monthly and annual maintenance tasks, you can inadvertently devalue your neighbours’ property values. You don’t want to be the neighbour who owns the local dilapidated mess!

 

    • Register To Vote - Registering to vote might seem like a solely personal decision, but your vote affects the local council and all that it entails, including rubbish collection, local schools, GP surgeries and more. Staying informed and voting in local elections helps you to be the best neighbour possible.

 

    • Keep Your Neighbours In The Loop - Going on holiday? Having a major operation? Having a big party? Hosting some house guests? These are all things that you could have an effect on your neighbours. It pays to keep them abreast of all new developments in your daily life.

 

    • Make Sure You Know When Bin Day Is - Constantly forgetting to take out your rubbish on the correct day, and letting it pile up outside your home? Not only does this create a nasty eyesore, it can attract rodents and spawn flies, causing health issues (and massive arguments with neighbours).

 

    • Parking Etiquette - Have you ever arrived home to find someone parked in your space? It can be truly maddening, especially if you live in a busy area where parking spots are at a premium. Make sure that you never park in your neighbours’ designated spots, and follow normal parking etiquette in general.

 

Common Problems That People Have With Their Neighbours

While you might go out of your way to follow the above tips and treat your neighbours with respect, they might not do the same for you. Here are some of the most commonly cited issues that people have with their neighbours.

    • Noise – Parties, loud music, screaming matches, loud garden equipment (such as mowers and leaf blowers) – all of these noisy occurrences can enrage those who live nearby.

 

    • Pets –We all love our pets, but sometimes our neighbours do not! Barking dogs, defecating cats, and aggressive pets – all of these can be a nuisance (and potentially dangerous) to others in the area.

 

    • Children – Children can be little angels, but they can also be the opposite! Misbehaving children can wreak havoc on neighbours’ gardens, drives and local streets, so ensure that your little ones respect the property of those around them.

 

    • Physical appearance of your home – As we listed above, a shabby or run down home can negatively affect the property values on your street. This is sure to make your neighbours angry, especially if they are planning to sell their home in the near future.

 

    • Property boundaries – Making changes or improvements to your garden? Ensure that you are very clear on your property lines so that you do not infringe on your neighbours’ property.

 

    • Suspected criminal behaviour – Criminal behaviour can be a major concern for your neighbours, especially if they are concerned about the health and safety of their children.

 

    • Health or building code violations – Every local council has its own bylaws and guidance about building and health codes. Failing to follow these to the letter can really upset your neighbours, as their health and safety could be impacted.

 

    • Parking – As mentioned above, parking etiquette can be a very sore subject between neighbours. Exercise politeness and common sense when parking in your neighbourhood.

 

    • Putting in a new driveway – Putting in a new driveway can be a noisy, dirty and even
      dangerous process. Make sure that you follow all local guidelines, and give your neighbours a head’s up before you get started.

 

What To Do If You Have a Problem With Your Neighbours

Do you have neighbours who are engaging in any of the behaviour listed above? You are not powerless. Try some of the methods suggested below in order to assuage the situation and come to an amenable solution.

    • Talk to them – Never underestimate the power of a face to face conversation. There is a common urge to try to bury your head in the sand and hope the problem goes away, but speaking with your problem neighbour can be very effective. They may not even realise that they are causing an issue!

 

    • Contact their landlord (if applicable) – If you have an issue with someone who is renting their home, you can always reach out to their landlord directly. They can often take the necessary steps to correct the problem.

 

    • Complain to the ombudsman – Some housing developments, estates and condos have an ombudsman, an individual who has been designated to assess complaints about companies and organisations. Utilise their services if and when applicable.

 

    • Keep a diary and take notes – If you are having a hard time getting the help you need to support you through the problem, you might be headed towards mediation or a potential legal battle. The best thing you can do in the meantime is keep a written record of all of the incidents, which will help demonstrate your position in the legal process.

 

    • Use a mediation service – A professional mediator is there to act as an impartial third party and issue a non-binding recommendation. While this is not a legal ruling, mediators can really help people to come to a mutually beneficial middle ground.

 

    • Make a complaint to the local council – If the issue involves rubbish, an unsightly property, or noise violations, you should contact the local council. They can make binding rulings that can help keep your neighbours in line.

 

    • Contact the police – If criminal behaviour is suspected (and in particular, dangerous criminal activity) you should report the matter to the police. His might also be necessary if the argument escalates to threats or violence.

 

    • Legal action through the courts – While this is a last resort, you might have to get the courts involved. While this isn’t likely to be a pleasant experience, it might be the only way to reach a satisfactory conclusion to the problem.