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Dealing with Neighbors

Good neighbors look after each other. They lend a helping hand when an unexpected crisis or emergency happens. A good neighbor is like family. They care about you, and they have your back when it is up against the wall. But not all of us are lucky enough to have good neighbors. Whether you live in an apartment complex or a single family home, there is always the risk of disturbances and conflicts with neighbors. When such problems arise, what can you do to restore peace in your neighborhood?

Problems between neighbors can arise from anything like property boundaries or noise disturbances, problems with children or pets, yard neglect, odor, etc. Strategies for solving these problems include:

Write a Letter

You can write a note, email, or text to the neighbor. Discuss the problem and present possible ways to correct it. Tell the neighbor you are willing to hear his or her side of the story, and do not make accusations or threats.

Meet In Person

If you do not get a response from your note, suggest meeting with the neighbor over a cup of coffee to resolve the issues. The goal of the meeting is to find a satisfactory remedy for the problem, not to attack each other. There is usually some common ground between the two parties no matter what the issue.

Seek Mediation

Try mediation to solve the dispute. Mediation is a conflict resolution process that utilizes a trained and impartial mediator, an unbiased third party. The job of the mediator is to help individuals in a conflict understand each other's side of the argument. The goal is to reach a satisfactory agreement that will resolve the problem. Mediation allows both parties to decide how best to solve the issue. It is a voluntary and confidential process, and less extreme and costly than taking your neighbor to court.

Consult an Attorney

If you are making no progress with your conflict resolution, you should consider contacting a qualified attorney to discuss your legal options for taking the neighbor to court. Before going to court, you may ask your lawyer to write a letter to the neighbor on your behalf. The letter can propose a solution, explain the law affecting the issue, and mention the potential of a lawsuit. This will show the neighbor that you are serious about solving the problem. Court can be expensive and very time consuming. Remember, you still have to live next to this person, and taking him or her to court may permanently damage your relationship. If you do decide to take your neighbor to court, you should be mindful that you could potentially lose the case, and your neighbor may prevail in a victory. That is the risk you take when going to court. However, some conflicts can only reach an agreement in court.

Contact a Police Officer

If your neighbor is doing something to disturb you that violates a city ordinance, you can call the police to report them. If, and only if, the conflict between the two parties breaks the law, you can file a formal complaint against them or a police report.

The next time you have a conflict with a neighbor, landlord or roommate, remember the above advice. A conflict with your living situation will likely occur at some point in your lifetime. Don’t jump to conclusions, try to remain calm, and always strive to make peace with your neighbors.

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