Owning & Renting Property

5 Tips to Handle a Dispute with a Neighbor

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Here’s a surprising fact to write home about: 73% of Americans dislike at least one of their neighbors, and 23% of Americans have even called the police on them.

Love thy neighbor – maybe not so much?

The reasons why neighbors don’t get along can vary – from conflicting lifestyles and cultural differences to simple misunderstandings and everyday annoyances. If people these days seem to be less “love thy neighbor” and more about “I’ll see you in court,” there may be several factors that are contributing to this disturbing – and potentially growing – trend:  

  • More people are working from home. About 1 in 5 American workers are working from home, which opens the door to frequent (and potentially contentious) interactions with neighbors.
  • Less people are moving. Surging home prices and mortgage rates, along with high inflation, have people staying put in their current homes – which may mean they have no choice but to put up with annoying neighbors for the immediate future.
  • The country is increasingly divided. Statistics show that political views have grown increasingly polarized on many social issues over the past 20 years, which may mean added friction and misunderstandings when talking over the fence. 

What you can do to mend fences

  • Try diplomacy. Say hello and offer a smile. You might be surprised that a positive approach to the situation can help deescalate any rising tension or erase a misunderstanding.
  • Overlook the little things. Take a moment or two to consider if your neighbor’s actions are truly affecting your quality of life, or just a quirk you can live with. If it continues to be an issue, it’s time to address the matter.
  • Have a conversation, not a confrontation. Look for an opportunity where you can both discuss the matter on neutral ground, so to speak. A thoughtfully crafted text or email may be less intrusive. Let them know how their behavior is affecting you. But also, be sure to listen to your neighbor’s side of the story.
  • Try negotiation. If you’re making no headway in your efforts, then you may need to have a neutral third party sit down with you and your neighbor to help you figure out a fair solution – or compromise – to the problem.
  • Take legal action. Going to court is usually considered a last resort, but you may need to take legal action against your neighbor if you feel they violated any laws or you are concerned about your safety and the protection of your property.

The benefit of having legal protection

Whether you’re dealing with a neighbor who won’t trim a large branch that hangs over your property or someone next door who has loud, late-night parties, an attorney can provide you with professional legal counsel, including what your rights are, knowledge of state and local laws and any legal recourse you may have. They can also represent you, even in court, if necessary.

As you make your benefit selections this year, remember that a legal insurance plan is a benefit that can help in situations like this by providing affordable access to attorneys. If you’re an ARAG member, don’t forget that experienced network attorneys can help you navigate the situation and work toward a resolution you can live with.