You’re deep in the middle of a dream where your celebrity crush is about to hand you a cheque for $100 million. As the tips of your fingers are about to connect with the fantasy cheque, the shrill sound of a power tool drills into your subconscious and hurtles you back into reality. It’s your neighbour doing yet another DIY project at 2am, and you cannot bear it a moment longer. But, what is there to be done about it?
Your initial response may be to call the cops, but this is not always the best way to manage these sorts of disruptions. “Resolving neighbour disputes can be a lengthy and time-consuming process if you have to take it up with authorities, so you want to try your best to resolve it without getting others involved if possible,” advises Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
According to his advice, the first step in any neighbour dispute is to take a human approach to the situation by trying to resolve the issue neighbour-to-neighbour. In many cases, the issue can be easily resolved if both neighbours just have an honest and respectful conversation about the issue – the operative word here being ‘respectful’.
1. Keep your cool
“It is never a good idea to confront a neighbour when you are a loose cannon waiting to explode. If you are unable to cool down during the heat of the moment, then wait until the next day when you are more in control of your temper and are able to have a reasonable conversation with your neighbour,” says Goslett.
“So many disputes continue for longer than necessary simply because a neighbour has allowed their frustration to seep into the interaction which only further fuelled the offending neighbour to continue their bad behaviour out of spite.”
2. Offer solutions, not insults
“In your best effort not to inadvertently cause your neighbour to want to continue being a nuisance, you should try to approach the matter without using any accusatory terms,” says Goslett.
“Blaming them for causing you discomfort is the wrong way to go about this. Try to phrase it in such a way that offers a solution to the problem, as well as an explanation as to how their behaviour disrupts your life without calling them names or making it their fault. The more understanding and reasonable you seem, the more likely your neighbour will be to helping you resolve the issue.”
3. Tackle it face-to-face
As a final piece of advice, Goslett suggests that homeowners and tenants attempt to address the issue directly in a casual setting first before resorting to any other measures.
“Dropping a written note into their mailbox or under their door can often seem more confrontational than a casual conversation in the front garden. If they refuse to talk it out with you, then having a written note can help prove that you tried to resolve the situation as best you could before you dragged the authorities into it. However, this should never be your first step towards resolving the issue,” he says.
Authorities are a last resort
“As unpleasant as it may be, dealing with these situations directly is always the best approach. Unfortunately, no matter how diplomatic you might have been, some neighbours can choose not to respond to your reasonable requests. In these cases, it is best to take it up with your local police station first, and then bring it to court if the problem persists,” says Goslett.