by Dan Krell ©2012
There’s not a whole lot that will test your patience more than difficult neighbors. Neighbors, for the most part, tolerate each other regardless of their idiosyncrasies. However, it seems that the closer in proximity you live to your neighbor, the potential for friction increases; sometimes a worst case scenario develops and tempers flare. Common neighbor complaints typically concern pets, parking, excessive noise, and the maintenance of the home exterior and the lawn. When neighbor complaints arise, the offending neighbor is often characterized as being inconsiderate.
From a distance, the issues may seem inconsequential, but we find the situation and behavior of those who are involved in the neighborly dispute to be entertaining. The idea is so entertaining that Hollywood has capitalized on the theme and has created a number of hit movies. Sure, the “bad neighbor” portrayed in the cinema is an exaggeration of traits that we would consider as meddling and zany (such as Dan Akroyd’s character in “Neighbors ),” or secretive and suspicious (such as Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack in “Arlington Road ).” Some films depict a new resident to find out the entire neighborhood acts bizarrely, such as portrayed in “The ‘Burbs (1989)” or the “Stepford Wives (1975 and 2004).
As much as we enjoy the over the top behavior depicted in “neighbor” films, we like to think everyone tries being considerate of their neighbors in real life. However, if this were true, then “good neighbor laws” would not be enacted.
Montgomery County enacted its own “good neighbor laws” last year. These laws affect: home based businesses (limiting the amount of visits into the home as well as possibly limiting parking depending on the type of home based business); parking of commercial vehicles (except for temporary parking, parking for heavy commercial and recreational vehicles are prohibited from parking on residential streets); and off street parking (must be on surfaced areas, unregistered vehicles are not allowed on the property, and there may be limitations on the amount of front yard that can be surfaced for parking). Of course, these “good neighbor laws” are enforced by [neighbor] complaints.
Coping with annoying and meddling neighbors on a daily basis can be challenging, but how about when you’re selling your home? Since most neighbor issues are caused by a lack of communication, experts recommend trying to speak to your neighbor first. Once talking with your neighbor, you may find you share a few commonalities. You may even be surprised to find out that your neighbor is in need of your assistance in cleaning their yard, or towing the unused cars away.
If you find that your neighbor is not responding with your attempts to communicate, then gaining support from other neighbors may assist you in getting your neighbor to be more considerate.
Of course, if your neighbor is totally unresponsive, you may find yourself seeking assistance through official channels; such as making complaining to your HOA, local officials, or even the police. Although not all HOAs are good at enforcing their rules, complaints made to local authorities are often investigated and handled through official channels.
Don’t wait for a home sale to mend your relationship with your neighbor. Besides smiling regularly, experts suggest that long term neighbor problems may be avoided by solving issues when they arise.
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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of June 4, 2012. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2012 Dan Krell.