Do you have a bad neighbour? Here are a few things you can do before you end up in a feud

Faith Wood

Some neighbours are wonderful. They’re the ones you chat with over the fence, call when you need a hand, and team up for tasks. But not all neighbours are that great.

My son has a renter who can be quite frustrating and has a messy neighbour too. The renter’s dog barks incessantly, the alley is cluttered with truck parts, and the renter never seems to get the garbage bag all the way to the back.

On the other side, the neighbour has eight children, four of whom drive, making parking a constant hassle. There’s also a shed in their yard, built by the kids in shop class years ago, which was never completed. The place accumulates hoarded tires, scrap metal, and toys.

I once had a neighbour who would send her child over to borrow dinner items regularly. It might have been cute if it didn’t happen so often, with her needing to borrow nearly all the groceries to make supper. Once, after a camping trip, we found her leaving our house with crackers and cheese.

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Dealing with neighbour issues can be tricky. You’re irritated but don’t want to seem like the problem neighbour. When you can’t park in front of your house, you wish they’d just move away. But they never do.

So, before things escalate like the Hatfields and McCoys, try communicating with your neighbours.

I understand you’re busy with work, shuttling kids, and Netflix nights. But if you don’t speak up to your neighbour, why should they change what’s bothering you? They might not even be aware there’s a problem. Filing anonymous complaints with the bylaw department will likely just lead to frustration for both of you.

Instead of letting resentment fester, assume good intentions. Most people don’t want to be bad neighbours; they might genuinely not know they’re causing issues. Maybe their dog barks when they’re at work, or their kids accidentally damage your property while playing.

Start by politely letting them know about the problem. “I don’t know if you’re aware, but …” There’s no need to be confrontational.

When approaching your neighbour, don’t come with a laundry list of annoyances. Differentiate between minor irritations and significant issues that can and should be resolved.

After expressing your concerns, give your neighbour time to address the problem. Don’t show up at their door twice a day with an expectant look, or start building a giant fence.

Regardless of the problem, keep a record of the issue and what actions have been taken. If there’s still no improvement, talk to other neighbours to form a united front.

For more serious issues, check if your neighbour is violating local bylaws, which can cover noise complaints to property maintenance. Know your legal standing. If you’re unsure how to proceed, contact your municipality for guidance.

But before pursuing legal action, inform your neighbour that you’re considering that step.

And if all else fails, there’s the option of moving to the Caribbean. Imagine sunny beaches, endless ocean waves, and blue skies every day. Of course, you might end up next to a neighbour with an overgrown yard, blaring music, and unruly vines.

But at least you’ll have a spectacular view!

Faith Wood is a professional speaker, author, and certified professional behaviour analyst. Prior to her speaking and writing career, she served in law enforcement, which gives her a unique perspective on human behaviour and motivations. Faith is also known for her work as a novelist, with a focus on thrillers and suspense. Her background in law enforcement and understanding of human behaviour often play a significant role in her writing.

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The opinions expressed by our columnists and contributors are theirs alone and do not inherently or expressly reflect the views of our publication.

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