Tips for Tenants on Dealing with Difficult Neighbors
When you're renting a property in a new neighborhood, it's important to understand that many of your neighbors probably aren't fellow renters. If you think someone's treating you with unreasonable hostility, it's entirely possible that they have had a bad experience with someone who lived in the property before you and are anticipating more trouble from you. While this may seem prejudiced, remember that it can be hard for home owners who live next to someone's investment property to accept the revolving door of renting neighbors. The best way for tenants to deal with difficult neighbors is to be friendly and understanding. Know where you can make a difference and when it's best to give someone their space.
Fear of Renters
Dealing with hostile home owners, it's like the old saying goes. They're just as afraid of you as you are of them. In many cases, home owners who live next to a rented property are often afraid that renters will not take their experiences seriously because they are only temporary residents. Things like noise complaints, disruptive pets, and lowering their property value with a messy yard can all float to mind when worrying about a new, seemingly uninvested neighbor. While you may never cause these problems because you value your lease and reputation as a renter, people who've owned their homes for a long time may have forgotten about these requirements.
Then there's bad past experiences. Not everyone is as courteous a renter as you are, and the previous residents of your current home could easily have been a nightmare. Loud parties, evening or early morning disruptions, and even property damage that has since been repaired are all things you have no way of knowing about on move-in day, but your neighbors won't have forgotten so it's important to be understanding.
Be Friendly, Introduce Yourself
The best way to establish that you're a completely new and friendly person with every intention to be a good neighbor is to introduce yourself. Every time you get a chance to meet a new neighbor, take the time to make a good impression. This is also your opportunity to get some background information on the neighborhood and the reputation of people who have stayed in your residence in the past. A great way to get into neighborly good graces is to be welcoming to pets, even if they're strange or nervous about you.
Respect the Shared Soundscape
Whether you're in roomy suburbs or a compact apartment building, there will be shared sounds. Remember the nine-to-nine rule and keep the noise down, even inside, overnight and before people tend to get up for work. If you share walls, floors, or ceilings with others, be courteous about bumps, scrapes and the ability to transmit entertainment system vibrations. If you want to throw a wild evening party, it can help to give everyone a heads up, and possibly offer invitations in return for their occasional tolerance.
Deal with Problems in Person
Sometimes you're not the problem. If a neighbor near you is displaying problematic behavior like regular inconsiderate noise, or uncontrolled pets try approaching them gently at first. Do not leave a note or email first, as your stressed out thoughts often seem nastier in text than they will in person. Often a polite request is enough to make a difference. However, if you find yourself facing real hostility, check with your property manager or landlord before taking additional action.
Try to Help or Give Space
In many cases, a growing problem with a neighbor will reflect a personal problem on their end more than anything you may have been doing. For instance, a recent medical problem could have made them unable to properly care for their dogs and you might be able to pet-sit for them or find a service that can help in order to reduce unhappy barking. If on the other hand, noise complaints are the result of a messy neighborhood divorce, your best bet may be to give them space and let it blow over.
Dealing with problematic neighbors doesn't have to turn into a war, but neither will you be able to personally resolve every problem. For best results, do your best to be friendly and accommodating and know when to back away from something too hot to handle. If someone is in danger, don't hesitate to call the police, but for all other serious problems try to call your property manager first, as they have a longer-term investment in the neighborhood and may know how to handle a community issue.