Chris' Corner: How to handle Issues with a Neighbour

How to handle Issues with a Neighbour


Shannon Milligan, an Active Rain Blogger from West End VA recently wrote this great post on solving disputes with a neighbour.  Borrowing from words I have used with my son and that I read in Shannon's blog, "if you want to have a good neighbour, be a good neighbour".  The basic law of reciprocity is a powerful force =)


How to Deal with a Neighbor Dispute

How to Deal with a Neighbor Dispute

We all imagine living in harmony with our fellow neighbor. In a perfect world we would share a drink over the fence every Friday night or break bread on Saturdays with a cookout. But, we all know the reality that we don't live in a perfect world and sometimes we are going to disagree. It's human nature.

So, what do you do if you find yourself in a disagreement with your next door neighbor? Here are a few suggestions from Revolution Health:

Date updated: August 09, 2007
By Dan Seligson
Content provided by Revolution Health Group

  • Communicate. Experts universally agree that disputes escalate when sides fail to address each other directly. Knowing your neighbors goes a long way toward avoiding and diffusing disputes. Make an effort to communicate face to face, rather than sending an angry letter or banging on a wall when you're upset.
  • Don't assume ill will. Neighbors might not know what effect their actions are having on those around them. Sometimes just letting them know a party is too noisy or a trash can is blocking your driveway in a friendly way can be enough to derail a feud before it starts.
  • Get in early. If something a neighbor is doing bothers you, it's best to notify him or her of the problem as soon as possible. Early intervention can make a huge difference, says University of Baltimore professor John Windmueller, Ph.D., who teaches conflict resolution.
  • Mediate, don't litigate. Calling the police or suing a neighbor might offer a solution to a neighborhood stalemate, but it doesn't solve the problem of how you will live daily near this person in the future. Mediation with a neutral third party leaves options open after the dispute has been resolved, experts say, and that can lead to healthier interactions in the future. Your obnoxious neighbors might seem unable to negotiate, but experienced mediators say there are few people who are truly unreasonable. Mediation is effective more than 70 percent of the time, according to experts, and most importantly, it relies on people (that's you and your neighbor) problem solving - with help.
  • Keep a local dispute local. The key to successful resolution is having people from the community solve community disputes, says Robin Seigle of the San Diego-based National Conflict Resolution Center. That makes sense, but oftentimes neighbors choose to call the police or seek action in court"In a court setting, cases often end up with a restraining order. In those cases, it doesn't give people chances to problem solve. It only focuses on why the other person should be punished in some way," Seigle says.
    Chances are your state, county or even neighborhood has some connection to a conflict resolution center. After all, the police, legal system and code enforcement officers are almost always overburdened and would rather you and your neighbor work it out without their help. To find a mediator near you, visit or look up "mediation services" in the Yellow Pages.
  • Know when to seek help. Although mediation in neighborhood conflicts has a high success rate, some neighbors might not be approachable using any of the recommended methods. "If there's a fear of safety, then there's a reason to call the police. If you think something violent could happen, don't take the risk," Seigle says. If you're afraid that your neighbor will resort to violence, you can have a conversation in a courthouse - where both sides get checked for weapons - or even over the phone - which, while not ideal, is better than not talking at all.
  • Mow the lawn! Scoop that poop! Shovel that snow! If you want good neighbors, it helps to be one. A remarkably high number of neighborhood disputes start with the little things - an unsightly lawn, ice on the sidewalk because someone didn't shovel, etc. Trees and shrubs growing out of control can impede on other property and cause a nuisance or safety hazard. A well-kept house can keep peace in the neighborhood.
    Pets are another common source of feuds. Clean up after your animals and try to keep them on your own property. If your dog barks incessantly, consider keeping him inside at times when the barking might bother neighbors.

I would like to add, if you have an HOA it may be a good idea to consult with your board or community association leader. Usually a complaint can be made anonymously and a quick call or letter from the association to the offending neighbor reminding them of the rules and regulations can do wonders!

I hope you find these tips from Revolution Health helpful if you ever find yourself in this uncomfortable situation 

Thinking about listing your home in the Henrico County Real Estate or Richmond Real Estate market? Then contact me, Shannon Milligan at Home Sweet Henrico with Keller Williams Realty today and get on your way to your new home!

For more information on listing your home, please visit: Richmond Area Homes.

Shannon Milligan

Home Sweet Henrico

Keller Williams Realty Richmond West

6600 West Broad Street, SUite 150, Richmond, VA 23230

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Comment balloon 0 commentsChris Smith • April 26 2011 09:29AM