Sooner or later, no matter how well you know the people living around you a dispute can and will arise.
Though it may be difficult to reach amicable decisions when it comes to neighborly disputes, finding a solution to these issues is well worth it, as no one wants to make an enemy of the people they live next to.
When you share a property line with another person there will come a time when you will have to be involved in joint decisions. Should your fence be replaced? Who is responsible for sidewalk maintenance?
Here are three of the most common causes of neighbor disputes, and how to handle them in a “neighborly” way.
For the most part you are allowed to trim branches that overhang into your property, but no more. The actual owner of the tree is whoever’s property contains the trunk of said tree. Should you damage or destroy a tree that is no your own you become liable for thoe damages which may well exceed the value of the tree itself (replacement of the tree, uprooting sod etc). If there is some danger of the tree falling onto a structure on your property or your home, then you may have some recourse through local or city ordinances, and of course any HOA bylaws.
2. Good Neighbors, Good Fences:
An ugly fence might not be to your liking but unless your HOA has specific rules regarding what kind of fence is allowed (and they likely do) you may have some trouble trying to argue design tastes with your next door neighbor. Should the fence be in disrepair however it becomes the responsibility of the land owners on both sides to act accordingly – unless both owners have a prior agreement or have paid for their fencing separately. The best course of action is to talk with your neighbor first, as any changes to the fence may effect their property and many states have harsh penalties for crossing these boundaries.
3. If it’s too loud you’re too old:
Well, not quite. Almost every town has a noise ordinance which generally outline reasonable times and decibel levels at which residents can make noise. If you end up having recurring issues with a neighbor about the amount of noise they are making, or regarding the time it is being made, it may be best to allow local authorities to enforce their own ordinances and make a “courtesy” call to resolve the issue.
Whenever any issue arises, take it upon yourself to talk to your neighbor one on one, don’t be the neighborhood tattle-tale and call the HOA or police to come pounding down their door. Approach the situation gingerly. Be conscious that for every viewpoint of your own, there are 10 other, and equally valid, points. By working with some tolerance for the rights and privileges of others (even if they are not respecting your own) you can often come to a much more peaceful, and even mutually beneficial resolution to any situation.
Don’t go over if when you are angry or emotional. This will only hurt your chances of finding a good solution and likely lead to more strife with your neighbors.
Don’t be afraid to be truthful. You are worried that a tree will fall, yes, but you also hate the way it blocks the sun from your porch. State your issues calmly, and honestly, without stepping on toes if possible.
Unless it’s a city law or HOA ordinance, be willing to make a compromise, as well as to offer concessions to a neighbor. Everything in life is a bit of give and take, problems with the neighbors are no different.
Should your calm and direct approach backfire, or your neighbor becomes irate by no means should you tolerate abuse.Hand off this issue to the appropriate authorities like your HOA, or local city police.
As a last resort you may have to seek legal action and while this may break an already stressed relationship with the people around you sometimes it is the only way to come to a resolution. If you must go to court, be prepared, gather evidence by taking photos of the issue and document any interaction you have with your neighbor about the problem in question.
If a legal decision is rendered that is not in your favor, be sure to accept it and to move on. There is no need for harassment or childish behavior — it will surely only make the problem worse. Generally if people can keep cool heads and deal with things in a considerate manner issues rarely get to the point that the law needs to be involved, but nonetheless the importance of considering who your neighbors might be is a big part of finding the perfect home.