What to Do If You Have a Terrible Neighbor

Unfortunately, nothing ruins a homeowner’s experience in a neighborhood quite like having terrible neighbors. If you have a bad neighbor living nearby, you’re probably wondering what you should (and should not) do. This article has you covered.

How to Handle Bad Neighbors

Noisy parties, barking dogs, overgrown lawns, people coming and going at all hours of the day and night – these are just a few common annoyances that come with bad neighbors. And if you find yourself living near a terrible neighbor, it’s important that you do something about it. Not in an angry or illegal way, but calmly and diplomatically. Here are several tips:

1. Have a Conversation

Before doing anything else, it’s best to just have a conversation with your neighbor. In many cases, a simple one-on-one conversation is enough to resolve the matter before involving anyone else.

The key to these conversations is to have them at a time when neither party is emotional. For example, if you’re frustrated by the fact that your neighbor’s dog barks incredibly loud when he lets him out at 4 a.m., don’t confront him at 4 a.m. in your bathrobe. Nothing productive will result from this.

Instead, have a conversation on a Sunday afternoon when you see him walking his dog around the neighborhood. You’re much more likely to have your voice heard during a time such as this.

It may also be worth speaking to other neighbors to see if they’re frustrated by the same things you are. If three or four neighbors complain about an issue, the offending neighbor is much more likely to do something about it.

2. Contact the HOA

If you can’t solve an issue after having a face-to-face conversation with the neighbor in question, you should contact the HOA and let them know about the problem.

“If the reported violation is covered in the association’s governing documents and a violation is truly occurring, it’s good practice for the board to acknowledge the reported issue and send a violation notice to the offending homeowner,” Spectrum Association Management mentions.

Ideally, the HOA will take things from this point and ensure the violating neighbor corrects the issue. In fact, the HOA has a legal obligation to enforce the rules.

3. Hire an HOA Attorney

While the HOA may have a legal obligation to enforce the rules of the HOA, this doesn’t mean they always live up to their responsibilities. Neighborhoods are tricky communities and sneaky politics may happen behind the scenes. If you involve the HOA and nothing happens, you might need to turn things up a notch and hire an HOA attorney.

HOA attorneys are often needed to handle disputes between members and the board. Because they’re a third-party – and they don’t have any vested personal interest in the community – they’re able to better interpret situations and help everyone reach the proper conclusion.

4. Call Law Enforcement

While the HOA is typically able to handle small, non-threatening issues, there are times when you may need to get law enforcement involved.

“If you feel physically unsafe—perhaps your neighbor has exhibited violent tendencies in the past—call your local police,” Nolo.com explains. “Even if you do not feel that you are in imminent physical danger, you might call the police after you have exhausted all self-help remedies to fix your neighbor’s activities.”

Here are some examples of situations where you may want to call the cops. (However, as always, it’s best to calmly confront the individual before escalating.)

  • Playing loud music and disturbing the peace in the neighborhood
  • Trespassing on your property
  • Damaging your property or belongings

Notice that barking dogs are not included on this list. That’s because law enforcement really can’t do much about a dog that barks. If, however, you believe your neighbor has dangerous pets on their property, you can always call Animal Control.

Take Care of Yourself

If you don’t look out for yourself, nobody will. That might sound selfish or dramatic, but it’s true. You live in a neighborhood for a reason. In all likelihood, it’s because you want to be near people. And if that neighborhood has an HOA, you’re perfectly within your rights to expect the rules to be followed. Stand your ground and demand the best of yourself and your neighbors.