Neighbors are a hard thing to predict sometimes. Despite your type of dwelling, your neighborhood, or your city, the neighbor lottery always ends up being more of a Russian roulette. We learned this recently after making some exterior improvements to our home.
The photo above is of our house, which has on-street parking only. That truck, however, belongs to our neighbor a couple of houses down, who parked it directly in front of our house in protest of our new landscape lighting because he “doesn’t want [his] house lit up” although our lighting is no brighter than the streetlight also in front of our house.
So what do you do when your neighbors turn on you? How do you quell a brewing feud before it explodes into something of Hatfield vs. McCoy proportions? Here’s some steps we’ve taken to try and remedy our brewing domestic dispute.
Before we assumed the worst of our neighbors, who have been more than friendly up until recently, we asked our other neighbors if they knew what was going on. We were more than willing to be understanding if there was more to the situation that met the eye. And when we next saw the owner of the truck, we asked him nicely if he could possibly move his vehicle back in front of his house, or to the off-street parking he has behind his house.
Be The Adult
When faced with passive-aggressive actions from your neighbors, you pretty much have two decisions to make. You can either retaliate with passive-aggressive or just straight out aggressive behaviors. Or you can be the grown-up in the situation and address the issue directly in a calm, composed manor. While retaliation might feel good and be awesome to fantasize about, the adult behavior will be the only reasonable way to settle the dispute with class and dignity. Besides, by taking the higher road, you’ll only help your neighbor to realize how ridiculous they’re being (at least you can hope).
It’s easy for little things like this to be blown out of proportion into full-out arguments. Don’t let it. Be the bigger person, take deep breaths, and don’t let your anger or frustration with your neighbors get the best of you. This may mean, as it does in our case, that the calmer person (if you live with other people like roommates or a spouse) will be elected to deal with the matter, even though you may be chomping at the bit to give your neighbor a piece of your mind. If you’re on your own, make sure you take some time to really think about the situation before you storm out and only make the problem worse.
Be Open To Compromise
In our situation, our neighbor believes we should put lower wattage bulbs in our lighting. Our city street light is out, however, and without the wattage we have (which is under the city code’s guidelines) we can’t see our cars at night, and we’ve had a rash of vehicle break-ins in our neighborhood. We’re willing to change out our bulbs once the city comes and fixes the streetlight and have said as much to our neighbor. We’ve even offered to purchase temporary block-out shades for their windows that they can use in the meantime. Opening yourself to compromise requires you to see the other person’s perspective, and doing so will only make you a more reasonable person to live near, whether your neighbor can see that or not.
If All Else Fails, Call The Police
If ever at any point your neighbor makes you feel intimidated or directly threatens you or your property, or even refuses to discuss the situation with you in a calm manner, it is completely appropriate to get your local authorities involved. That’s part of what you pay your taxes for, folks — to have professionals on call to mitigate situations whether they be of the criminal or the civil kind. DO NOT, however, call 911 if you are not under immediate duress. Look up your local precinct’s non-emergency or dispatch number and make sure to give as many details as possible about the situation as to assure the officers being called out of any potential threat or danger, if there is any. It’s also helpful to know your rights as they apply to your property and your local zoning codes and ordinances to help alleviate any further discrepancies between yourself and your neighbors, and your police department can help clarify those for you.
Part of our concern was for the safety of our children as we take them to and from the car — we had to park pretty far up the block due to bus stops and fire hydrants — and since our son has special needs, it’s quite a daunting task for the both of us to handle, never mind just one of us as it will be once school starts again. Due to this, we’re going to be looking into getting a designated accessible spot marked by the city to ensure we don’t have an ongoing problem of this kind. And when the city repairs the streetlight, we’ll be toning down our lighting a wee bit as well.
All of this to say being the bigger person and taking the higher road in neighbor disputes will help quell any future problems regarding an issue, and will hopefully return both of your homes to a peaceful and happy state.