Neighbors. We all have them — beside us, above us, or below us. The good news? According to a Trulia survey, 67% of American homeowners claim they like their neighbors. But without any warning, homeowners can run into trouble when a new neighbor rolls into town. And whether they’ve got lead feet that pound the floor in the upstairs condo for sale in New York, NY, or they’re hideously decorating the yard next door in Austin, TX, even the most laid-back homeowner can run into trouble when matched with an annoying neighbor.
If you identify with one (or more) of the factors below, your neighbors may be waiting for a for-sale sign to appear in your yard. Follow these tips to mend the relationship.
1. Noisy nuisance
One common complaint of an annoying neighbor? Noise. Yelling and screaming, loud music, revving your engine, construction noise, unruly kids, barking dogs — they can all be annoying. But when does it cross the line? When your teenager practices trombone at 11 p.m., your roommate races out of the driveway on his Harley at 4 a.m., or you decide to host an aerobics class in your top-floor condo’s living room at 6 a.m. on a Sunday, you’ve officially crossed over into “annoying neighbor territory.” Steer clear of excessive and frequent noise, especially in the wee hours of the night, or you may get served with a complaint from the police when your neighbor dials 911.
2. Hillside interruption
Whether it’s a hillside home in a suburban community or a retreat overlooking a lake and mountains, views equal value. Have you planted trees that will eventually block your neighbors’ stunning views? Have you installed air-conditioning units on the roof of your home that are in line of sight of the houses above you? Or even worse, are you planning to build a second story onto your home that would completely block your neighbors’ view of the water or city skyline? If you said yes to any of the above, congrats — you might be an annoying neighbor.
Especially in rural areas, the night sky is a beautiful thing. You can look up and clearly see the stars and the moon. That is, until you decided to install outdoor fluorescent spotlights that make it feel as if you’re lost in a mall parking lot. If you made this mistake, then you most likely polluted all stargazing potential for your neighbors and yourself. (Cue the eye masks and additional curtains just to get some shut-eye.)
3. Hedge hunter
Did you cut down a hedge or trim a voluminous tree between your house and your neighbor’s? Hedges make great neighbors, and if it served as a privacy barrier between you and the house next door, removing or altering it in any way could potentially create a neighbor nightmare. If you think it could cause a rift between you and your neighbor (and between your yards!), ask before you cut!
4. Property line invasion
Before you put in a new fence, did you check with and work with your neighbor to determine the property line? It will be a source of aggravation if you have overstepped your boundaries (in more ways than one), if even by a few feet. When buying or renovating property, it’s important to know the exact property lines — not just a ballpark estimate. Avoid a quarrel with the people next door and hire a surveyor to define your property line and direct you about how close to it you can build your fence.
5. An old dog with annoying tricks
Neighbors have been known to go to war over these wonderful, loving creatures. Nothing is worse than an inconsiderate neighbor who leaves their dog outside all day or night while the dog barks, yelps, and howls. And since this usually happens when Fido is home alone and missing his owner, you may not even realize that your fluffy friend is the terror of the neighborhood — or worse, the condo building. Lower the volume of his barks by ensuring that he’s happy. Research tips for leaving your dog at home all day, and try burning off some of his energy before leaving him for long periods — your neighbors and Fido will thank you!
6. Wi-Fi connection woes
Believe it or not, keeping your Wi-Fi unsecured without a password is just as annoying as stealing Wi-Fi from your neighbors. Yes, it’s true! I once received a complaint from my neighbor that his teenage son was jumping onto my Wi-Fi to avoid the parental blocks and restrictions his parents had set. Not to mention, an unsecured Wi-Fi signal could be hacked and pose a real threat to personal and confidential information.
7. Parking pains
Parking can be a real source of contention, especially in dense, crowded neighborhoods. For most neighbors, the parking spot in front of their home is sacred ground. If you and your spouse each have a car, plus one for each of your two teenage children, then you may be a parking hog — especially if you also have an unused garage or driveway. While it isn’t illegal to park in front of your neighbor’s home, try to be considerate and use the spaces allocated to your property.
8. Storage wars
Every homeowner’s nightmare: a hoarder as a neighbor. We have all breathed a sigh of relief that we don’t live next to one. But watch out for subtle hints of hoarding: an abandoned car in the driveway, piles of old patio furniture, storage boxes, an overgrown lawn full of dead trees. These items may feel blended and one with your property by now but can come across as hoarder-ish to your neighbors who have to look at them every day.
9. Nothing but net
Ah, outdoor driveway sports. They’re as American as apple pie. But think about your neighbors before you head out onto your home court. Unfortunately, the hoop attached to your garage is often located next to your neighbor’s second-story bedroom window, which could be their master bedroom or a nursery. If you’re prone to late night one-on-one with friends, consider your neighbors before you start dribbling.