Unless you live on a couple of acres out in the country, you most likely have neighbors who are a part of your daily life.
Sometimes we find our neighbors to be kind, supportive, and friendly.
Unfortunately, at other times our neighbors are inconsiderate and do things that drive us crazy. Then there are those neighbors who complain about everything.
Whether you live in an apartment, a townhouse, a duplex, or a single-family home, you need to find a way to get along with the neighbors who complain about everything.
You can deal with neighbors who complain about dogs, noise, yard maintenance, houses, and cars, by knowing the rules and city codes in the neighborhood and sticking to them. Then, keep your cool when you talk with your neighbors, be calm and kind, listen to their complaint, figure out if it is valid, and work together to come up with a solution.
If you can’t resolve it together, you may need to involve a third party like a landlord, manager, mediator, city official, or the police.
Whatever you do, be kind and don’t retaliate against their complaints.
Keep reading for advice on how to approach complaining neighbors. We’ve also gathered some common neighborly complaints so that you can address these issues in your home to be considerate of your neighbors and maybe prevent problems before they begin.
- How to Deal with Complaining Neighbors
- 1.Know the Neighborhood Rules and Restrictions
- Written Rules
- Nighttime Noise Complaints
- Daytime Noise Complaints
- Unspoken Rules
- 2.Listen to Their Complaint
- 3.Check the Validity of the Complaint
- 4.Try to Work Out an Agreement
- 5.Talk With the Other Neighbors
- 6.Dealing with Neighbors Who File False Complaints
- 7.Have the Proper Documentation and Permits
- 8.Remain Calm and Be Kind
- 9.Don’t Retaliate
- 10.How to File a Complaint Against a Neighbor
- 11.Work with A Third Party to Resolve the Issue
- 12.Involve the Police in Extreme Cases
- Common Complaints from Nitpicky Neighbors
- How to Protect Yourself against Noise Complaints
- 3.How to Manage Complaints about Kids
- 4.Dealing with Neighbors and Complaints about Yard Maintenance
- Try Helping Instead of Complaining
- Call City Code Enforcement
- 5.Managing Neighbor Complaints about Home Maintenance
- 6.How to Handle Complaints about Cars and Parking
- Daily Parking Obstacles
- Expect Additional Cars when Neighbors Have a Get-Together
- 7.How to Deal with Complaints about Illegal Burning
- Final Considerations
Sometimes we have neighbors who complain about everything.
They might have a valid complaint such as your car blocking their driveway or your dog getting loose and digging up the flower bed.
On the other hand, they might complain about things that are not valid.
They might complain that they don’t like the color of your Christmas lights, the varieties of rose bushes you are growing, or the new color of your front door.
Use our suggestions below to try and work it out with your unreasonable neighbor. If none of these work, just try not to rock the boat and ignore them.
How to Deal with Complaining Neighbors
You can’t control how your neighbors will behave, but you can control how you behave.
Often, if you keep your cool, be a considerate neighbor, and listen to their concerns, your upset neighbors will settle down.
Then you will be able to work together to reach a solution you can both agree on. Let’s have a look at some specific steps you can take when you need to deal with complaining neighbors.
1.Know the Neighborhood Rules and Restrictions
You have probably heard “the best defense is a good offense.” That adage is true for maintaining good relationships with your neighbors as well.
When you move to a new area, you should make sure you become familiar with the “rules” of the neighborhood, both written and unwritten.
If your area has a Home Owners Association, you will likely have HOA fees and a rule book that specifies the public appearance of your home and the behavior expected of people in the neighborhood.
Learn what those expectations are and stick to them so that you don’t cause a problem with your neighbors, even an unintentional one.
Also, the city you live in will have rules and regulations regarding issues like keeping the lawn trimmed, not storing clutter in the yard, trimming trees to a certain height, putting out trash and recycling bins on certain days, and even where you can park your car.
Be sure that you find out about the city regulations and comply with them so that everyone in the neighborhood has the same expectations.
Nighttime Noise Complaints
A common complaint between neighbors is noise. This is true whether you live in apartments or in houses in the suburbs.
Many apartment buildings and complexes have rules about noise levels. Frequently, quiet hours start after 10 or 11 PM and last until 6 or 7 AM.
This works well for most people who work during the day and sleep at night.
Even when you are complying with the noise ordinance, check with your neighbors and see if you can accommodate each other’s schedules.
Daytime Noise Complaints
While most people work during the day and sleep at night, some people work at night. Then there are college students who are up and down all night.
Most of the time, people are not intentionally trying to disrupt their neighbors; they just don’t realize how much sound carries.
If your neighbor is making too much daytime noise, or if your daytime noise disrupts your neighbor, talk through it.
Find out what time they go to sleep and keep your volume down. Neighbors who have a good night’s rest are better neighbors.
Trying to abide by the unspoken rules of a neighborhood can be a challenge since they are not spoken.
Here’s an example:
My mother-in-love bought a house on a cul-de-sac near one of our local colleges.
Soon after moving in, she needed to cut the lawn. The only time she had was a Sunday afternoon, so that’s what she did.
While she was mowing, several neighbors came over and told her that they don’t mow on Sundays because people are resting and spending time with their families.
This neighborhood didn’t have an HOA, and there were no city regulations against mowing on Sundays — it was just the preference of the neighbors.
My mother-in-law explained that she worked 6 days a week, often out of town and the only day she had to mow was Sunday.
She offered two options to the neighbors. She would mow on Sunday, or they could mow for her on another day.
Not surprisingly, they went home and didn’t complain about her mowing on Sundays anymore.
In this example, we see that knowing the “rules” would have made the situation easier for my mother-in-law.
However, she practiced some other skills, like listening to the neighbors, validating their concerns, and offering options to diffuse the situation.
2.Listen to Their Complaint
When people are upset, one way to help them resolve their feelings is to listen to them. It is possible that the upset neighbor has not had anyone to talk over their feelings with.
So when they are bothered, they tend to ruminate on a problem. Then it seems to become a bigger issue than it really is.
By listening to your neighbor, you may also learn why the issue bothers them so much. It may seem like a small thing to you, but it is a larger problem to them.
Consider this example: You have to set your trash bin out by the curb on trash day.
Maybe you don’t always bring it back up to the house the same day or early the next day and that drives your neighbor crazy.
A garbage bin is not attractive, but it’s not worth the level of upset your neighbor is expressing.
When you listen to why it bothers them, you find out that it blocks their view when they try to back out of their driveway.
Now you can resolve the problem by setting it out farther away from the driveway so their view is not blocked.
That way if you aren’t home to quickly move the bin, it won’t block their view.
3.Check the Validity of the Complaint
In order to resolve a problem between you and a neighbor, you need to listen to the neighbor’s complaint as we explained in the previous section.
Then, you should consider whether the complaint is valid or not. If it is something you can change or fix, then work out a compromise with your neighbor.
On the other hand, it is possible that they have a valid problem but you are not the person who is responsible or who can fix it.
In that case, you can listen to them, then show them that though their problem is valid, you are not to blame for it.
Consider this scenario: I once had a neighbor who came over angry that my cat was killing the birds at her bird feeder.
In fact, she had put out a humane trap and caught the cat. She wanted me to come next door, get my cat, and see the destruction that she had caused.
I listened to her complaint, then invited her in to meet my very old, fat cat who was asleep on my sofa and rarely went outside.
To my neighbor’s credit, the cats did look alike, so it was a reasonable misunderstanding.
I was not able to fix the problem for my neighbor, but when I listened and checked the validity, she was no longer angry with me.
4.Try to Work Out an Agreement
After you listen and check the validity of a complaint from a neighbor, try to work out an agreement with them.
It is possible that their complaint is valid and you can change something that is not too major to make both of your lives better.
In the previous scenario with my cat, if she had been the one killing birds, I would have kept her inside all the time to resolve that issue.
5.Talk With the Other Neighbors
Perhaps you have a cranky neighbor who complains about everything.
No matter what you do, you can’t seem to come to an agreement with this neighbor. Take some time to talk to the other nearby neighbors.
They may know more about your complainer’s situation. Maybe they just complain. Maybe they are lonely and need someone to talk to.
Whatever the situation is, if you understand it better, you can be more proactive in working with your neighbor to resolve the issue.
6.Dealing with Neighbors Who File False Complaints
Despite how hard you work to make peace with your neighbors, you may have one who is just never happy.
If this is the case with you and a nosey neighbor, you will need to protect yourself. Pay attention to the next few points in our list to ensure that you can prove you have done nothing wrong.
Gather the proper permits, documentation, and records of each complaint and the circumstances surrounding each complaint.
If the harassment continues, you may need to file a counter-complaint with the landlord, apartment management, city offices, or a lawyer.
If you choose to go this route, be sure to have all your documentation.
Also be sure to have a clear desired outcome (for example, you just want the neighbor to leave you alone), and evidence of the complaints the neighbor has made against you.
Always remain calm and polite when discussing the events.
7.Have the Proper Documentation and Permits
If you are making changes to your property like building a fence or a shed or installing a sprinkler system, be sure that you have cleared the work with the city’s permitting office.
You need to be clear about property lines and what kinds of improvements are allowed.
Then, to be polite, you should let your neighbors know when there will be disruptive or noisy work taking place on your property.
They may want to change their daily routine as well on those days. Be sure that you have the proper permits in case your neighbors have concerns.
You will be able to put their minds at ease that everything is approved by the city (or the HOA).
8.Remain Calm and Be Kind
We all know that it is easy to react when someone approaches us in anger. Our natural instinct is to become defensive and angry as well.
This will only cause the problem to seem more insurmountable. Instead of reacting emotionally, stay calm.
Allow the neighbor to share their concerns. Calmly ask questions that clarify what their worries are.
Validate their feelings. You will be surprised how quickly the tone of the conversation changes.
It is also important to be kind. Whether you are involved in a difficult conversation with the neighbor or just walking by as you take the dog out, be kind.
Take a few moments to greet them and ask how they are. Bring their newspaper up to the porch or shovel snow from their sidewalk.
Help them carry groceries if they need it. When you act with kindness, you will develop a stronger relationship with your neighbors.
Then, if a problem arises, they will approach you with calm concern rather than anger.
You may be completely frustrated by your neighbor’s complaining.
They might complain about every little thing from the color of your flowerpots to how bright your TV is at night.
It may be that none of these complaints are valid and you are out of ideas.
While it may feel good at the moment, retaliation against your neighbor is not going to help resolve the situation.
It will most likely make things worse by escalating the situation.
Instead, ensure that you are not deliberately doing anything to upset the neighbor and that you are within your rights to do what you are doing.
Then talk reasonably to the neighbor and try to work out a solution.
10.How to File a Complaint Against a Neighbor
If you’ve gotten into a conflict with a neighbor and nothing you have tried has resolved the issue, you may need to file an official complaint to make some headway.
For rental properties, contact the landlord to discuss the problem. If it is a condo, apartment, or there is an HOA, contact the management company. They will have a manager who handles complaints.
If you cannot resolve the problem through these means, you may have to step it up and hire a mediator.
This is a third party who is not related to the problem at all and can bring a neutral perspective to the problem.
11.Work with A Third Party to Resolve the Issue
Sometimes, despite all the work you do to repair the relationship and resolve the issue, you need to get some outside help to solve the problem.
For example, if your neighbor has a complaint about the property line, choose a third-party surveyor or a city planner to come and identify the property line for you.
If you live in an apartment and your neighbor plays loud music until 3 in the morning, contact the apartment management and ask them to step in and enforce the quiet hours.
12.Involve the Police in Extreme Cases
Unfortunately, there may come a time when you need legal or police assistance to resolve a problem.
If you have continuous run-ins with a neighbor, you should keep good records of the problem, so that if it escalates to the point where police are involved, you have proof of the validity or invalidity of the claims.
We used to live next door to a group of college boys in what the university police affectionately called the “ping-pong house” due to the ping-pong table in the garage. Most of the time the student were great neighbors.
They were kind and even helpful if we were moving something heavy or needed help with lawn work.
But sometimes, their garage parties lasted way into the night. Our young children’s bedrooms were very close to the garage and they were often unable to sleep.
We tried several tactics with our neighbors to ask them to keep it down. We installed an outdoor light we could flip on and off when they were getting out of hand. They knew to settle if the light was on.
Sometimes we went next door to ask them to keep it down. But once in a while, these parties would get out of control, and we would have to call the police to break them up.
Because we had created a good relationship with our neighbors at other times, they were contrite and respectful when the police had to break up their parties.
If they spilled into our yard, they came and cleaned up the next day.
Common Complaints from Nitpicky Neighbors
There are some complaints between neighbors that occur no matter where you live.
Since everyone has different standards and lifestyles, it is only natural that there will be some conflicts between neighbors.
Throughout your life, you may find yourself on either side of these complaints as the complainer or the complained.
1.Dealing with Neighbors’ Complaints about Dogs and Cats
A common complaint neighbors have with one another centers around pets.
Dogs may bark, damaged fencing, escape and run wild through the neighborhood, poop in other people’s yards, and cause other problems.
Cats may kill birds and squirrels, invade other porches and damage furniture or window screens, have unwanted kittens, and so on.
If your dog is causing a problem by barking or damaging property, then work on training the dog.
Give them more attention and teach them how to behave properly. Dogs are great learners and companions and can be very well behaved when they are taught how to.
If you struggle with teaching your dog, then take a class. When you walk the dog, clean up after them. No one wants to walk out into their yard and step in dog poop.
On the other hand, if your neighbor’s dog is the problem, document the problem and calmly discuss with your neighbor how to resolve it.
If their dog barks when they are gone, record it so they can hear it.
If the dog is tearing up the fence, take pictures and share that with them. Don’t just make accusations. Remember to be calm and kind when you approach the neighbor as well.
Cats are a bit more difficult than dogs. They are more than smart enough to train, but they choose not to.
If your cat is causing problems with the neighbors, consider making it an indoor cat.
If you have an outdoor cat, keep a collar with a bell on it. Cats are known for reducing the population of wild birds in the area.
Also, remember to spay and neuter your pets so that you and your neighbors don’t end up with unwanted puppies and kittens.
2.Dealing with Neighbors who Complain About Noise
Apartment living often leads to noise complaints. Walls and floors are often not built with soundproofing and even everyday tasks like vacuuming and walking around may disturb your downstairs neighbors.
Children playing, the TV, and having company over can be noisy as well.
Of course, you (or your neighbors) are not deliberately trying to annoy by being loud. It’s just the nature of living so close together.
If you have already invested the time in getting to know your neighbors, you can more easily address some of the noise issues.
You may also be able to work with the landlord or the apartment management to add some sound baffling to reduce noise.
How to Protect Yourself against Noise Complaints
Some things that you or a neighbor can do to reduce everyday noise are to put down rugs, not wear shoes in the apartment, hang a blanket on the wall behind the TV, and try to keep noisy events to daylight hours.
3.How to Manage Complaints about Kids
Kids can be both noisy and messy. But they can also be a joy to have around. Be sure to teach your children to be kind and respectful of the people around them.
Take them to meet the neighbors so that there is already an established relationship in the event the kids upset someone.
If someone else’s kids are bothering you, speak with them and their parents politely. Explain what the problem is and work together to find a solution.
I’ve heard stories about kids wanting to use a neighbor’s swing set, trampoline, or pool.
If you are the owner of the equipment, and you are willing for the kids to use it, you must set clear boundaries about when they are allowed and that a responsible adult must be with them.
This is to protect you and them legally in the event of an accident.
Remember the saying “it takes a village to raise a child.” Take the time to get to know the kids in the neighborhood or building and their parents as well.
You can build a stronger community that way.
4.Dealing with Neighbors and Complaints about Yard Maintenance
Some people take great pride in having a beautiful green lawn. They spend hours pulling weeds and planting flowers.
They water daily and have soft grass you can sink your bare feet into. Other people . . . not so much.
Confession time — I’m the “other people.” I don’t love yard work. We have weeds everywhere.
I have a few plants in pots, but no landscaping to speak of. However, out of respect for my neighbors, we keep the yard picked up, mowed, free from broken limbs, and the sidewalk and driveway swept. My lawn isn’t pretty, but it is tidy.
On the other end of the scale are the folks who only mow when the city comes by and issues a ticket for having an overgrown lawn.
Their fences are falling down, tree branches are broken and brushing the road, and trash piles up around the yard.
Try Helping Instead of Complaining
One way to deal with a neighbor who doesn’t care for their yard is to offer to help them clean it up.
If you haven’t met the neighbor, you may find that they are disabled or elderly and don’t have the resources to maintain the yard.
They may just feel overwhelmed by the state it is in and don’t know where to start to clean it up.
If you gather a couple of helpful neighbors and get the yard into manageable shape, then the resident may be able to take it from there.
Call City Code Enforcement
Of course, you also have the option of working with the city to get the property cleaned up.
That usually involves heavy fines and lots of red tape. Consider saving this option as a last resort rather than a first choice.
5.Managing Neighbor Complaints about Home Maintenance
Just like people take pride in their yards, they take pride in the appearance of their homes as well.
They also want the property values in the neighborhood to stay high, so a home that is ragged, in need of repair or paint, and generally run-down, is likely to upset the neighbors.
If your home is in need of repair, make the repairs. It can be expensive, but you don’t have to do the most expensive choice for the repair.
Keep the outside of the home clean and tidy. Patch holes in the siding and repaint when you can.
Even small repairs and improvements go a long way to improving the value of your home.
If your neighbor’s home is in need of repair and despite requests from many neighbors they have not made the repairs, see if there is a local charity that can help.
You may be able to find a youth group or other organization that can clean up, paint, or repair the outside of a neighbor’s home to make it more compatible with other homes on the street.
In some cases, a home may be dangerous to live in due to disrepair.
If that is the case, you need to contact the city offices to make that decision. They may have resources to help that you don’t have access to.
6.How to Handle Complaints about Cars and Parking
Depending on where you live, you may have lots of parking or no parking at all. Many apartments have assigned parking for one car or you can buy a parking space.
Suburban homes usually have a driveway, but street parking can become problematic.
Daily Parking Obstacles
First, you should make sure where you are allowed to park.
Be sure to park in your assigned parking space or in front of your own home without blocking other people’s access to driveways, mailboxes, and sidewalks.
You should also check with the city to see if there are codes about storing non-working vehicles on your property, and abide by those rules.
Expect Additional Cars when Neighbors Have a Get-Together
If your neighbor is having a party, you should expect that there will be some extra cars around.
When their guests interfere with your ability to park at home, talk with them about it and work out a plan.
If someone regularly parks in your spot or driveway, approach them and explain politely that they need to park elsewhere.
Direct them to the apartment management to get their assigned parking spot or point out your property line so they know not to block your access.
Remember to be calm and reasonable when you talk to your neighbor about parking.
Don’t retaliate by blocking them in or damaging their property. That will simply escalate the problem.
7.How to Deal with Complaints about Illegal Burning
This one is a little baffling to me, as I live in a part of the country where burning leaves, trash, or other debris is illegal.
If you have to clear land with a controlled burn, you must get special consideration from the county and have fire-fighting equipment on hand.
Imagine my surprise when I read about people burning the piles of fall leaves in their yard! That would set off our street like a tinderbox.
For those who live in areas where burning trash or debris is allowed, be sure that you know the restrictions and follow them carefully.
If you have a neighbor who does not follow those rules and creates a hazard for other people, you should involve the authorities.
Most of the time, you can work to make your neighborhood or apartment building a pleasant place to live.
Building positive relationships with your neighbors is the foundation of keeping the peace between neighbors.
When conflicts arise, as they often do, it is important to remain calm, reasonable, and kind when you talk with complaining neighbors.
Listen to their concerns and validate their feelings.
Then, if the complaints are valid, work together to solve the problem with a compromise.
In extreme cases, you may have to contact the landlord, city offices, or police if a conflict gets out of hand.
But you will find that calm open communication will generally resolve a problem before that becomes necessary.
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