Dealing with difficult neighbours without calling the cops

Resolving neighbour disputes can be a lengthy and time-consuming process if you have to take it up with authorities, so you want to try your best to resolve it without getting others involved if possible, advises Adrian Goslett, regional director and chief executive of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

He says the first step in any neighbour dispute is to take a human approach to the situation by trying to resolve the issue neighbour to neighbour. In many cases, the issue can be easily resolved if both neighbours have an honest and respectful conversation about the issue,

“It is never a good idea to confront a neighbour when you are angry. If you are unable to cool down in the heat of the moment, then wait until the next day when you are more in control of your temper and are able to have a reasonable conversation with your neighbour. So many disputes continue for longer than necessary simply because neighbours have allowed their frustration to seep into the interaction which only further fuelled the offending neighbours to continue their bad behaviour out of spite,” Goslett explains.

“To avoid inadvertently causing your neighbours to want to continue being a nuisance, you should try to approach the matter without using any accusatory terms. Blaming them for causing you discomfort is the wrong way to go about this. Try to phrase it in a way that offers a solution to the problem, as well as an explanation as to how their behaviour disrupts your life without calling them names or making it their fault. The more understanding and reasonable you seem, the more likely your neighbour will be to help you resolve the issue.”

Goslett suggests that homeowners and tenants should try to address issues directly in a casual setting before resorting to any other measures.

“Dropping a written note into their mailbox or under their door can often seem more confrontational than a casual conversation in the front garden. If they refuse to talk it out with you, then having a written note can help prove that you tried to resolve the situation as best you could before you dragged the authorities into it. However, this should never be your first step towards resolving the issue.

“Unfortunately, some neighbours do choose not to respond to your reasonable requests, no matter how diplomatic you might have been. In these cases, it is best to take it up with your local police station first, and then bring it to court if the problem persists,” Goslett concludes.