LIFE

How To Deal With Annoying Neighbours

Without starting an all-out war.

31/08/2016 10:25 AM AEST | Updated August 31, 2016 20:09
Shannon Fagan
THEY'RE WATCHING.

There are so many different types of annoying neighbours, we barely know where to begin. There are nosy ones. Noisy ones. Messy, mean and meddling ones. The list goes on and on.

So what should you do if you find yourself in a situation where the Joneses are the pits?

The Huffington Post Australia spoke to etiquette expert and founder of The Good Manners Company, Anna Musson, to find out.

Getty

"The golden rule when it comes to neighbours is to take a long-term view and ask yourself, 'can I live with this for the next 10 or 20 years, or should I move?'," Musson told HuffPost Australia.

"Once you've decided that, the general rule of thumb is that you catch more bees with honey than you do with vinegar. It's in your best interests to try and win them over."

In order to do that, Musson suggests a couple of 'neighbourly' things you could try.

It's the little things that build a community. The more people who are looking to build that community up rather than knock it down, the better.

"If things are getting heated and you want to make amends, there are a few little things you can do to build on your relationship," she said.

"For instance, mow their nature strip. Let's face it, you've already got the mower out, and it's not as if we're talking about a huge surface area.

"Or you could bring their bins in, if you think that's something they would appreciate, or offer to walk their barking dog if it's driving you crazy. Something else that's always helpful is to offer to collect their mail if you know they are going away."

"It's the little things that build a community. The more people who are looking to build that community up rather than knock it down, the better."

Getty Images/iStockphoto
Neighbours going away? Offer to collect their mail for them and (hopefully) earn some brownie points in return.

Sometimes, however, despite your best efforts, certain types of annoying behaviours cannot be overlooked.

"I tried to make a shortlist of all the annoying things neighbours can do, and it ended up being quite long," Musson said.

"Basically it includes things like frequent parties, unruly children, barking dogs, parking on the grass, cigarette smoke blowing over from their place, mowing the lawn early in the morning or late at night... really, I could go on.

"Often, if you assume the best of people, you'll find they didn't know they were behaving in a way that annoyed you.

"The best way to broach a recurring annoyance is to have a conversation that seems relaxed and seems about something else. Invite them over for a beer or, if they are mowing their lawn, why not mow your lawn and start up a conversation? Say something like, 'I noticed you've been having a lot of people over recently, are you celebrating something?'

"You never know, they may have thought there was a soundproof wall between you or that you weren't noticing.

"Often, if you assume the best of people, you'll find they didn't know they were behaving in a way that annoyed you. But if they are doing it to deliberately torment you, well, then it's time to move."

#wifi #networks #name #passiveaggressive #neighbors

A photo posted by Sean Tugby (@seanlovestattoos) on

In terms of what not to do, Musson says no matter how amusing, passive aggressive notes (or wifi network names) are not the answer.

"Notes are never going to solve the problem," she said. "Neither will calling the police on your neighbours, shouting at them to turn it down or complaining to your council as a first port of call. I also wouldn't advise starting a petition about them.

"The best tactic is to get their phone number so you can text them. People are usually happy to receive a text.

"Then it can be as simple as, 'so sorry, but your car is in the driveway, can you please move it?' or 'it's 1am, would you mind turning it down a little bit?' Going directly to the source is always better."

#wifi #networks #name #passiveaggressive #neighbors

A photo posted by Sean Tugby (@seanlovestattoos) on

Now, to turn the tables. What if you're the one who is being too noisy or parking in the driveway, and your neighbour isn't happy about it?

"Be apologetic," Musson advised. "It's hard to be angry and escalate matters -- even if you are in the right -- if someone is apologetic.

"Just say, 'I'm so sorry, we'll do our best to turn it down,' and try to act on that, if it's a reasonable request.

"At the end of the day you just don't know if someone is going to poison your dog. If you're new to the area, you want to build relationships, not come in and antagonise people."

It's also nice to invite your neighbours to a party, particularly if you know they won't come. That way, when they hear the music, as least they feel like they had the opportunity to attend themselves.

There is also the issue of the neighbour who gets overly annoyed at things you're absolutely within your rights to do. So, for instance, having noise complaints when you are having a small dinner party at 8pm on a Saturday night.

"If there are communal amenities, so for instance, if you are in an apartment building and you happen to share a garage, it always helps to warn your neighbours of any plans you have [that could be disruptive]," Musson advised.

"So something simple like leaving a note which reads, 'Dear residents, we are having a party on September 1, there will be music, but we will finish by midnight and ask guests to leave quietly,' or 'we will be moving and potentially blocking the driveway,' -- anything that gives them a heads-up is always a good idea.

"Forewarned really is forearmed in these cases.

"It's also nice to invite your neighbours to a party, particularly if you know they won't come. That way, when they hear the music, as least they feel like they had the opportunity to attend themselves."

Hill Street Studios
Yeah... this kind of behaviour isn't going to result in a lasting mateship any time soon.

Finally, when it comes to acting on the annoying things your neighbours do (or don't do), Musson said it's important to know your rights.

"We once had a neighbour who annoyingly would always turn on his blower at 6pm on a Sunday night," Musson said. "But he is within his rights to do that.

"Find out what your rights are and what the noise limitations are. There's no point giving people a hard time if they are within the law, and there's no point getting upset about something you can't change."

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