Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.

You can choose where to live, but you can’t pick your neighbors. You may not always get along with them, and their habits may disrupt your daily life or even cause damage to your property. So, how do you address your discontent with a person you can’t avoid, and may even see everyday? Unfortunately, this is a situation many homeowners have found themselves in. If you are one, you may want to approach this situation delicately and with a plan in mind. After all, your neighbor may not be aware that their actions may be causing you some distress. Follow these steps to make sure you are finding the best way for you to approach them.

1- Introduce yourself.

If you haven’t met your annoying neighbor yet, the first step is to get to know them. There are many reasons why you should [insert link security blog post], but once you start having friendly conversations with them, you may uncover reasons why they have been behaving the way they have. For example, if you’re getting fed up by their barking dog, you may find out that the pet needs a little more time to adjust to its new home. Knowing your neighbor a little better may also make them a little more receptive to your concerns, should you choose to address them.

2- Know your rights and that of your neighbors.

Does the sound of your neighbor’s children playing with their drum set disrupt your life at home during the day? While you may maintain that it is your right to have peace and quiet in your own house, check your town or city’s laws: it may also be their right to make that noise at that time. Regardless of the issue, do your research before going to the cops or filing a complaint. If your neighbor’s actions aren’t illegal, you may want to approach this situation more delicately to avoid offending the people living next door.

3- Document the problem.

When you start feeling like your property and privacy are being violated by your neighbor, you may get aggravated more easily by small annoyances. No matter what the situation is (if it isn’t illegal activity), you may want to take a step back, a deep breath, and keep track of the problem instead of blowing up in your neighbor’s face. Document the frequency and the severity. Your log may serve two main purposes: you can use it to determine if you are simply overreacting to a situation, or to prove to an appropriate authority like the police or community board you’re in the right, if the situation escalates to this level.

4- Check with other neighbors.

One of the best ways to gauge if your neighbor’s behavior is worth addressing is by talking to your other neighbors. If they are just as annoyed by this person’s actions, or if they also have some misgivings about the situation, it may be helpful to talk about it as a group and decide what to do together. Two (or more) minds are better than one!

5- Communicate, be patient, and pick your battles wisely.

You may want to ask yourself: is the problem worth bringing up, in the long run? Or will addressing such a trivial issue only cause a rift between you and your new neighbor? When it comes down to another’s life behind closed doors, you may not want to make assumptions. Maybe this individual is experiencing family difficulties, or simply made an honest mistake. If you’re patient, you may be able to find out without offending your neighbor or invading their privacy. If the matter is small and is only an occasional annoyance, you may want to forgo bringing it up altogether.

6- Escalate slowly.

The same way you may not want to jump to conclusions about your neighbor’s behavior, you may also want to avoid going straight to the authorities if those actions don’t appear to be illegal or harmful to another. If talking to your neighbor to diffuse the situation doesn’t help, recruit your other neighbors for help. If the issue doesn’t appear to be solvable, try getting the help of a mediator before contacting your local police. You may want to give your new neighbor the time to adjust to the new neighborhood and new habits before getting the authorities involved.

7- Do not insult your neighbor, their kids, or their pets.

When confronting your neighbor about the issue at hand, you may want to choose your words wisely as to not offend or antagonize them. If this happens, they may refuse to cooperate with you in the future. In addition, insulting their kids or pets (if they are the cause of your grievances) may only hurt your cause. Avoid animosity by being firm on your position while still being respectful.

8- Be a good neighbor.

Being a good neighbor may help resolve any situation. This doesn’t just mean keeping your property clean and neat, it also means being patient, understanding, and respectful. As a homeowner, you are part of the same community as those around you. Even if you don’t know these people very well, know that they are human too, and they may make mistakes or inadvertently offend you with their behavior. You’d want a chance to make up for your errors if you were in the wrong, so you may want to give another the same courtesy!

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