How to Deal with Difficult Neighbours

January 4, 2022
how to deal with difficult neighbours

We’ve all had to deal with difficult neighbours at some point. Whether it’s music blasting at 2am, overgrown lawns or a dog that just won’t shut up. And we also all know that when dealing with difficult neighbours, we should approach with caution

Neighbours live next door to you permanently and if your relationship sours, this could mean extra tension when you walk outside the house. But this doesn’t mean you have to grin and bear it. Remember that you have the right to a happy home and a happy neighbourhood just as much as the next guy. 

So before you call the police with a noise complaint, here’s how to create a more understanding relationship with that difficult neighbour. 

Ask yourself if you’re the difficult neighbour

difficult neighbours shared driveway

This might put you off at first but it’s important to know whether your behaviour is also negatively impacting your neighbour’s. If they already dislike you, it’ll be that much harder to better the relationship. 

So find out if you’re being a good neighbour first by asking yourself these questions:

  • Are you noisy? Do you like that surround system roaring or do you operate any loud machinery that might annoy neighbours? Even everyday appliances like lawn mowers and leaf blowers can disrupt an otherwise calm evening. 
  • Are your pets making loud noises? Do they like to roam around the neighbour’s property, or are they aggressive with anyone? We also hope you’re cleaning up after them on your walks. 
  • How does your house look from the exterior? Are you tending to your yard and keeping it tidy? Or is it an eyesore for the neighbourhood?
  • Are you keeping to your boundaries (aka property lines)? Is your car parked where it should be and the fences in line with your property? Make sure you respect the property lines of your neighbours. 

Once you’ve established that you’re being a good, respectful neighbour, then you can think about having a conversation with your neighbour. 

Love thy difficult neighbour

What we mean by this is to start off on the right foot. The best way to solve issues is to prevent them. So if you’re the newbie on the block, or they’re just moved in, be the first one to say hello. Some like to show signs of welcome with a homemade gift but most of the time, a simple introduction will do.

Also, what helps is to forewarn them if you’re planning to have a party, do renovations or anything that could potentially be noisy.  

Don’t assume they’re aware

What’s funny is that we don’t always know we’re giving someone problems. So just like we have to ask ourselves if we’re the difficult neighbours, we can’t assume they’re aware of the issues. So instead of accusing them, think of simply letting them know

Drop by their place at the end of the day. Be friendly and casual, even if the problem has irked you for months. This way, they’ll know you have good intentions. 

Be kind if they complain about you

difficult neighbours hanging fruit over boundary

Sometimes we get neighbours who are a little more… sensitive. They might complain about a tree branch hanging just past the boundary, or something seemingly trivial. But we have to come from a place of understanding.

Just as you want your neighbour to show sympathy when you raise issues with them, you want to be accommodating in the same way. 

Keep records

We’re saying this just in case, but in the event that issues need to be brought up with lawyers or the Supreme Court, you will want to have proof.

This isn’t to say a dispute cannot be solved peacefully and without third parties, but be safe and keep all emails, texts, documentation and photos. If possible make sure all relevant dates and times are visible. 

Know the law before taking action

Before you find yourself filing a legal noise complaint in the middle of the night, you want to do some research. Google codes in your suburb to make sure what you’re complaining about is a reasonable matter. You can also speak to a solicitor who can advise you on how to resolve the dispute. 

If all else fails, contact the authorities

If you’ve approached that difficult neighbour and the issue persists, you might have to escalate it. Here are the steps you can take: 

  • If your neighbour is a tenant, try and get in touch with their landlord to explain the issue. No one wants to be forced to move, so this will show your difficult neighbours that you’re serious about the disruption. 
  • Get in touch with the local disputes centre. They are often able to help mediate issues in the community without involving legal formalities. If you’re renting, you could reach out to your landlord and ask them for aid.
  • If the mediator can’t help, try contacting your local councilTheir websites will have helpful guides on how to make a formal complaint and what to expect afterwards.
  • If that doesn’t work, taking legal action is your next bet. Speaking to a solicitor could help you find the best course of action. They can also assist you in filling out any forms. 
  • As an alternate last resort, you can apply to the Supreme Court of the state yourself and request to have your neighbour cease the disruption. If it comes to it, and you’re in the right, you may ask for compensation for any damages. 

Legal processes are the tougher, longer, more expensive route. Which is another reason why we encourage dealing directly with your neighbour. Be prepared for uncertainty and that you may not get the outcome you’re after. 

Keep a lookout during inspections

difficult neighbours suburb

When you’re shopping for a new house or at the inspection, it isn’t always clear what kind of neighbours you’ll have. But there are a few red flags to look out for. 

If neighbour houses show hoarding habits, this may be an indication of poor cleanliness. Check out their lawns, garbage disposals and general appearance. 

Sharing a driveway can also be a source of tension for neighbours.

Of course, if you love the house enough, that might make up for the difficult neighbour. And remember to be friendly from the get-go. You’ll never regret starting off right.

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