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Bad Neighbors-Is There A Good Way To Deal?

Updated on March 17, 2010


A good friend of mine lived in a communal living facility on military installation. They placed her with a girl she was friendly with as they felt it would be a good match. It turned out they were wrong. They had gotten along fine until they became roommates and their individual living habits clashed. Before it was all over with, the other girl switched the positive and negative wires on my friend’s stereo in retaliation for her leaving it on as loud as it would go then leaving the facility promptly thereafter. She wound up uncrossing them before my friend got back and she confessed to the intended offense. She wound up moving out into town and eventually their original friendship renewed. That situation did turn out as a best case scenario but it is hardly the norm.

Now my aunt is not a forgiving woman. You can put money in the bank that if you cross her, you are not getting another chance to make another impression. When she moved into her current residence, the only neighbor she has inadvertently crossed her and has never been allowed to forget it. It is almost like watching the reincarnation of the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s. Both sides engaged in passive-aggressive methods of annoyance until her neighbor took it further. She has never hesitated to call the sheriff’s out on him nor has she failed to put his trash out for everyone to see, literally. He was randomly ‘dropping’ his trash in front of her property to make it seem as though she were a slob. She, in turn, took all that trash, bagged it up, waited, then dumped it all on the road in front of his place. The feud still wages and neither party has been proven guilty so neither have been taken to jail, but it will happen. Nothing good is going to come of these two stubborn individuals determined to prove their superiority through juvenile tactics.

Most of the time, getting along with your neighbors is a fairly easy task. Sometimes getting along with your neighbors means a mutual avoidance of one another. What do you do, though, when one, or both, of you is unable or unwilling to steer clear of the other and getting along means not actually maiming the other person? How do you cope with you can’t cope?

This situation is one that can easily escalade if you are not careful. It is very easy to want to get caught up in an endless tit-for-tat, each person trying to ‘outdo’ the other. Each offense gets worse in hopes of ‘winning’ the fight and making the neighbor give up and move out. This kind of living situation rarely has a happy ending. This applies whether your neighbor is next door, down the block, next apartment down, next door down the hall, or across the room.

Once your temper has cooled from that first offense, or two, you should attempt to calmly discuss the matter with him/her. If it becomes clear that there will be no reasoning with the offending neighbor, the next step should be to start documenting offenses followed immediately by distancing yourself from the offending party as much as feasible. This covers you by providing a hopefully well documented timeline showing the escalation and your lack of retaliation. It would help if there were proof in the form of video or still photos. Any and all offenses that cross the line of legality need to be reported to the appropriate authorities immediately. Most of the time, you will be advised to take the matter to civil court.

Prior to taking the matter to the judicial system, do your homework. Make sure you are fully aware of all laws that you feel they have violated as well as any that you may have overstepped as well. The more prepared you are the better it is for all involved. During this time, it is imperative that you be as civil as humanly possible. Do not lower yourself. It does nobody any good, least of all, you. Seek legal advise, seek assistance from a neutral third party, take the high road, turn the other cheek, or swallow your pride and move, if that is even an option. Otherwise, you will be in for some real trouble later on down the road.


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    • profile image

      hubpageswriter 7 years ago

      I'm so lucky to have good neighbors. However, there are indeed bad neighbors out there and they need to know the word manners, being polite, considerate and many more. Hub up;)

    • Chaotic Chica profile image

      Chaotic Chica 7 years ago

      Lita~This reminds me of a saying that goes something like "good fences make for good neighbors". I am so glad that everything eventually calmed down and you were able to reckonsile some form of habitable living situation! Thanks for sharing.

    • Lita C. Malicdem profile image

      Lita C. Malicdem 7 years ago from Philippines

      I used to run wild chasing vandals away from my property- children from the neighborhood. They not only picked my flowers and fruits, they also broke branches, and worse- they used them to tease my dogs that naturally ran after them. I hate to recall the number of times I had to bring children to the hospital for their shots. If I didn't I would be in tangle with their parents. As if I was the one at fault?

      That was long ago. Now we have fenced our property and neighbors must get my good vibes in exchange for my bounty from the garden. No more hassles but kindness and goodness. LOL!

    • Chaotic Chica profile image

      Chaotic Chica 7 years ago

      Mega1~That is too funny! Whatever works, though, right? It's nice to know that sometimes all you need is family!

      Country living is great, except when a neighbor decides to sell the wooded property across the street that you loved because there was no house there. My mom bought the property because of all the woods around her and now they're fixin' to cut down the trees and build directly across from their driveway. She's upset about it because she strongly dislikes the one neighbor she has and would have gladly bought that land if she knew it were for sale just to keep it from being built on. Oh, well, all we can do is hope and pray that the new neighbors are nice!

    • mega1 profile image

      mega1 7 years ago

      This makes me laugh a little remember that twice I actually moved because I had such awful neighbors. And one time I actually won - a couple very large male relatives came to visit and we spent a lot of time in the back yard where my obnoxious neighbor could see them. There were no more problems! and I didn't have to do a thing! Now I live way out in the country where there are no really close neighbors - wonderful!

    • Chaotic Chica profile image

      Chaotic Chica 7 years ago

      Most cases don't turn out like my aunt's, she is just as much to blame as he is though! I've been pretty fortunate myself but I've always worried about a "Lakeview Terrace: situation! It's also why I practice the 'do unto others as you'd have done unto you' theory. I find that it usually works out fairly well that way!

    • Nicole Winter profile image

      Nicole A. Winter 7 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Fantastic hub, Chaotic Chica. I've had problems with pesky neighbors in the past, but usually simple avoidance has worked out all around. Currently, one of my neighbors is incredibly loud. I mean, four o'clock in the morning having a conversation with a friend in our hallway, kind of loud. I don't get it, but whatever, I'm not a confrontational type and it's not that huge of a deal... hopefully it won't turn into something like what you're Aunt is dealing with, that sounds AWFUL!

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 7 years ago from Upstate New York

      I've never really had a problem with a neighbor, either when I lived in apartments or my own home. I'm just lucky, I guess. Most of the people around here kinda keep to themselves but when we must have contact, we are at least polite and really quite nice to each other.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

      Life is too short to live that way, being mad over little things and having no forgiveness in your heart. I don't like my life to be in chaos so I choose only those battles really worth fighting for to say anything. I choose happiness if at all possible. Goof hub.

    • jamiesweeney profile image

      jamiesweeney 7 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      This hub kind of reminds me of that movie "Lakeview Terrace" with Samuel L. Jackson.

      Sometimes a random act of kindness goes a long way in reversing a negative spiral between two people. Sadly, most of the time neither person is willing to take the first step