Do you live next to Mr. Rogers – or is your neighbor more like Homer Simpson? While a good, high fence can do wonders for your relationship, it won’t always keep the pests away. So, here’s how to deal with a few annoying neighbors, courtesy of the researchers at Real Simple magazine.

  • The racket-maker. They play loud music at night, they weed-whack at dawn. But before you approach this person, make sure this isn’t a one-time racket. For example, if they’re hosting a wedding reception, it probably won’t happen again.  But if the noise is a constant problem, stop by or send a note. They probably don’t realize they’re being disruptive. Or ask another neighbor if they’ve had a problem with the racket-maker. This way you’ll know if their loud behavior has already been brought up. If so, read up on the noise ordinances in your area so you have information to back up your complaint when you approach them.
  • The property-line fanatic. They hound you because they think the lawn or tree between your properties is YOUR responsibility. Attorney Emily Doskow wrote a book called Neighbor Law and she says walk the property line together to determine what belongs to whom. Then say to them “I’m happy to discuss the lawn/tree issue and figure out what’ll work best for both of us.” After the chat, if your neighbor still insists something is yours that ISN’T, write a letter to them. This makes your point clear, let’s the neighbor know you’re taking things seriously, and serves as paper trail if things get ugly and go to court.
  • The helper. They bake you muffins. They offer to decorate. They want to take your dog for a walk. EVERY DAY. For starters, try to be gentle. This person is good-hearted, they just don’t know where to draw the line. A good approach is to stress that it’s someone else’s job. For example, “I appreciate your help mowing our lawn, but that’s my daughter’s job.” Or, “My husband likes to do it, since that’s his alone time.” Of course, there’s always the old faithful response, “No thank you.” It can be hard to muster since you don’t want to seem ungrateful, but it sends the message well.