Common Neighbor Problems and How to Solve Them

Image created by Stuart Miles, provided by

Image created by Stuart Miles, provided by

Moving into a new home brings plenty of excitement and mystery. One thing that is hard to judge before moving in is your relationship with your new neighbors. Sometimes you end up with lifelong friends, but other experiences are not quite so positive. Here are four common neighbor problems and ideas to solve them.

Common Neighbor Problems: Barking Dogs

I worked full-time while getting an MBA full-time when I lived in a rental house near the University of Denver. In the little free time I had on weekends, one of my most treasured times to catch up on sleep, I was woken every morning by a barking dog seven feet from my bedroom window.

After months of tolerating the bark, I logged on the City of Denver’s website and entered an anonymous noise complaint. The city mailed a letter and about a week later, the early morning barking ended.

Most cities have a similar service, or you can find a generic letter and mail it anonymously yourself. Of course, if you know your neighbor well enough, you can bring the issue to them directly instead of the anonymous route.

Common Neighbor Problems: Trashy and Abandoned Vehicles

At my first home in Portland, there was a black Volkswagen Beetle that just sat there. For months. And it never moved.

I understand that some people want to park on the street, but when a car is unmoved for a year and not in drivable condition (flat tires are a good indicator), it may be violating local ordinances.

Just like with the dogs, I logged into my city’s website to file an abandoned vehicle complaint. There was a notice on the car about a week later, and the following week it was towed. No more ugly car!

Common Neighbor Problems: Poor Landscaping

Unfortunately for neighbors who take pride in their lawn, in most cases dead grass and overgrown shrubbery is not against the law. However, you can still take steps to remedy the problem.

In my parent’s neighborhood, one neighbor let his yard go without any care for several years. Eventually it was brought to the homeowner’s association, who does have the power to enforce lawn violations for homes in the neighborhood.

If you live outside of an HOA, you can always contact the neighbor directly. If the problem is bad enough, you can join other neighbors and offer to take care of the lawn yourself. It is not optimal, but if you are considering selling your home, you want your neighbors to put on a good show for curb appeal just as you do with your own home.

Common Neighbor Problems: Deteriorating Property

Similar to lawns, there is generally no law against someone letting maintenance go on their home or having damage that is ugly from the street. For most visual-only issues, your best option is to discuss the problem with your neighbor directly.

If the issues go on too long, and you believe there are safety issues with the property, you can report it to the local city, who can send an inspector to look for violations. This will not solve all issues, but it can push the neighbor to make improvements to their home.

Utilize Local Resources

If you have any of these issues and cannot solve them through a friendly conversation, contact your city or homeowner’s association to ask what resources are available. Some cities offer mediation and other types of intervention.

Is it so bad you want to leave? Find a great real estate agent to help you sell your home, and buy a new one, from our list of pre-vetted and qualified agents.

Have you had a nightmare neighbor issue? Share your story in the comments.

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