How to Deal With a Rude Neighbor

by Mikey Rox on 27 April 2012 12 comments
Photo: fredcamino

There’s a bad apple in every neighborhood.

Whether it’s someone who leaves their pet’s mess for you to find, steals your paper, or is just plain nosy, rude neighbors are a part of life.

While some rude neighbors can’t be reasoned with, most of them will change their tune once they’ve seen the error of their ways. But you have to go about it tactfully; crazy is as crazy does, and you’ll get nowhere if you stoop to their level.

Instead, take the high road and handle your next-door menace with these helpful tips. (See also: 25 Ways to Communicate Better Today)

Check the Laws

My husband and I live in a two-bedroom condo, and we rent the guest bedroom to tourists on a regular basis through Airbnb. Some of our neighbors don’t like that we host these guests, and one in particular was very rude in his approach regarding the matter. He showed up on our doorstep and told us that “this was going to stop!” He referenced a bill that was on the verge on becoming a law that would prevent most New Yorkers from renting out their extra space to short-term tenants. What he failed to read, however, was that New York City homeowners who live in their domiciles full-time could continue to rent on a short-term basis. He handled the situation in a poor manner with his attitude, and in the end he didn’t have the facts correct. If he had come to us in a polite manner, we could have discussed the situation like adults and tried to find a way to make it work for everyone involved. He’s a prime example of what not to do when you have an issue to raise with a neighbor.

Gently Remind Them of Policies

In a hypothetical situation, if we were renting our guest bedroom illegally, our neighbor would have had a case to make. And in his defense, he did the right thing by mentioning the law when he confronted us rather than simply saying that we had to stop because he didn’t like what we’re doing. If you’re neighbor is in violation of your neighborhood/board policies, politely remind them. They may not even know they’re doing something, but if they are, your reminder will let them know that someone’s watching.

Pick Your Battles

Just because you don’t like something that your neighbor does doesn’t mean that you have the right to complain. If something is bothering you, talk it over with your partner or a friend to get their take on it. While the issue may tick you off, you need to ensure that it’s a reasonable issue to raise. There’s a difference between keeping the peace and being pushy.

Confront the Situation Head On

Nobody wants to have to confront their neighbor on an issue that they probably won’t agree on, but sometimes it has to be done. Don’t beat around the bush if there’s a problem. Gently present your complaint to the neighbor before the situation gets out of hand. You don’t want to keep it inside until you explode and burn that neighborly bridge all together.

Be Friendly but Stern

Don’t show up on your neighbor’s doorstep fuming mad — that will only complicate the situation further. Rather, be friendly and let your neighbor know that there’s no harm no foul if you can come to an agreement. Just make sure your friendliness doesn’t cause you to be a pushover. In these situations, the best option for the entire neighborhood is the correct one — not the option from the person with the biggest personality. Also, remember to keep your calm if your neighbor cops an attitude. Be the bigger person, and more people will be on your side.

Contact Your Homeowners’ Association

If your neighbor continues to do whatever it is that is annoying you after you’ve confronted the situation, it may be time to contact the homeowners’ association or other authorities. Some people are rude to the core — and they won’t give a darn what your problem is with them. That tune may change, however, when you involve a higher power — especially one that can impose fines.

Have any more tips on how to deal with a rude neighbor? I’d love to hear your crazy-neighbor stories, too. Comment below.

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Guest's picture

And when all else fails, you have to accept it or move! We have a neighbor who rides a go-cart up and down our street. It's fast, extremely loud, and dangerous. He has been talked to but refuses to do anything. Our only recourse is to deal w/it or move.

Guest's picture
Guest

Unless you involved the police I see not need for you to give in and move. Usually when the law is involved or an expensive fine is in the mix, people will give in.

Guest's picture
HaliGarcia

I have a neighbor that lets his small children ride a golf cart in the street in front of my house and they swerve in front of cars, hit cars parked in the street and mailboxes. Is this something you can call the police about?

Guest's picture

And when all else fails, you have to accept it or move! We have a neighbor who rides a go-cart up and down our street. It's fast, extremely loud, and dangerous. He has been talked to but refuses to do anything. Our only recourse is to deal w/it or move.

Guest's picture
jesort415

I have a downstairs neighbor who is extermely loud. I can hear her phone conversations like she is in my room. I also hear her having some adult fun and even though I have mentioned it she laughs it off and nothing changes. She did have the nerve to tell my landlord our kids are noisy but at least they are in bed by 7pm where as her loud mouth has woken me up at 4am talking on the phone or slamming her door letting one of her "friends" out. Annoying!!

Andrea Karim's picture

Oh, man, if I had a nickel for every ridiculous neighbor that we have, I could probably stop working and pay the mortgage on ridiculous nickels alone! We have the obnoxious barking dog neighbor (Pomeranian, kept out on the deck), the hoarding neighbor who feels that the walkway to my house should function as a storage container for the stuff he salvages from the dumpsters in our alley, and a bevy of people who don't pick up after their dogs. In fact, it's one of the reasons that I am leaving the city. The 'burbs may be dull, but at least I won't be tripping over bags of discarded clothing every morning as I walk to my car.

Guest's picture
Sherrie

I just took a bottle of wine over to our new neighbors to say "Hi" and "Welcome" and the guy just shut the door in my face - I was still talking when he did it!

How do you deal with that?!

Guest's picture
Chuck

I cut the grass over the imaginary property line as my neighbor cuts his grass three times a week missed part of the yard just wanted to "EVEN" up the cut. Wrong thing to do next morning he was waiting for me at the end of my driveway. Let me have it for "Cutting" his grass. He has not spoken to me in almost two years. Sad part he is a retired minister, his heart has grown cold and hard, he wont forgive me.. Very Sad !

Guest's picture
Suzie

I have a neighbor that throws dog feces in my yard. How do you deal with that. I don't even own a dog

Guest's picture
Guest

Thanks for the advice. However:

Recently my neighbors on the other side of my fence had a graduation party from 7pm to 11:00pm The Deep Bass Music was deafening. My wife and I returned late that evening at 10:00pm but several other neighbors were fit to be tied about the music.

The troops gathered(four of us)and we made our way to the noisy neighbors. One of my neighbors went off and immediately had four parting females screaming her. I calmed down the situation as before from past. The noisy neighbors recognized me and said they would turn down the music. Interesting how the males of the party simply watched in the distant and let the ladies do the negotiation. Well it did not work.

Six complaints were made to the local police but true to their nature, the police considered the complaint non-harmful and simply put it on city record. You can bet the paper work will either be trashed or stay in the file system for eternity.

Noisy neighbors have no class at all. They could care less about other people's feelings and think the world revolves around them. When the alcohol begins to talk for them the later is true. All I can say is the noisy neighbors of __________court will grow up or be swallowed up by the earth. :)

Guest's picture
HaliGarcia

I was looking out of my window and caught my neighbor when she threw a rock at my dog. I went over to her house and told her what I saw and she told me that she didn’t do anything and that she was going to call the police on me for harassment. My dog is really sweet and now he is afraid to go outside and barks at my neighbor whenever she is outside. I also caught her trying to steal a pair of shears that I left on my porch and when I confronted her about it she told me that she thought I was getting rid of it and she did not apologize. The same neighbor also; shovels her snow into my driveway, uses my garbage cans for her trash, lets her dog poop in my yard, and lets her children play in my yard, which I wouldn’t mind if they weren’t throwing a baseball near my windows. I have never done anything to this neighbor, so I don’t understand why she is acting this way. None of the other neighbors seem to have a problem with her when I confront her she does not admit that she did anything wrong. I am so sick of this neighbor that I want to move. It almost seems like she is doing these things on purpose, so I don’t know what to do.

Guest's picture
Morton

I heartily disagree that "While some rude neighbors can’t be reasoned with, most of them will change their tune once they’ve seen the error of their ways."

The whole point of rude behavior is aggression. "Leaves their pet’s mess for you to find, steals your paper, or is just plain nosy" - anyone with an elementary school education knows that this behavior is not acceptable. They are doing it to provoke others because they have an antisocial personality problem. Often rude neighbors are acting out in order to bait their neighbors, and often there is a target whom they specifically want to provoke, such as the commenter whose neighbor throws dog feces onto her property or the one who was drawn into the drama when reasonable communication was attempted.

My opinion is to IGNORE. Wear earplugs, put up fences and hedges, use the front or back door to AVOID these troublesome people. Only at a last resort do I recommend calling the police, because they generally do not take these problems seriously and it will escalate the situation if the neighbors think that you are the one who called.

There are very many people who are simply not fit to live in society due to poor emotional regulation, violent tendencies, generalized aggression, and attention-seeking. Unfortunately it's a fact of life that other people have to put up with them. They are like mosquitoes, hurricanes, downsizing, or the flu. They suck. Avoid them. They will not go away, and they will not change.

Often these people will self-destruct by getting arrested, losing their lease/house, or ending up under some oversight program like Child Protection.