One problem every renter faces during their apartment-dwelling years is the dreaded annoying neighbor. Whether we’re talking about too much noise, people parking in your spot or weird smells making their presence known in your home, solving these minor but frustrating disputes can be a hassle. If you’re looking for a smooth solution to your dispute, this step-by-step guide will help you set and maintain boundaries while keeping things amicable with your neighbors:
Get to know your neighbors
Learning who you’re dealing with is the first step in any conflict resolution plan, as getting to know your neighbor’s personality will help you find the best way to approach them. Start by asking how their day went when you meet them in the hall or inviting them over for coffee. Then, notice if they’re an introvert or an extrovert, whether they’re easygoing or a bit jumpy, anything that might give you some insights into how you can communicate with them efficiently.
Track the problem
Make sure you keep a log of the problem you set out to do anything about it. A recurring disturbance is definitely a reason to talk to your neighbors, but if something only happens once or once in a blue moon, you might better off just leaving it be. Track how often the issue occurs so you and your neighbor can get an idea of the distress it is causing, and so you can keep the conversation on point. Also, try to record some audio or visual evidence in case you’re met with hostility.
Be friendly and non-judgemental
It’s only natural to become frustrated and impulsive if someone’s actions repeatedly bother you. But most of the time, our neighbors don’t realize how much trouble they’re causing us. At the same time, maybe they’re facing an issue themselves, so you shouldn’t jump to conclusions without investigating first. It’s always better to approach a situation in a friendly and non-judgmental matter before turning to other techniques. Plus, an amicable resolution will keep you and your neighbor happier in the long-term.
Stick to the facts
If your friendly approach doesn’t work, try not to get too worked up. You’ve already tracked the problem, so stick to the facts and try to be objective. While you should tell your neighbor how the issue makes you feel, try to do it in a moment when you’re feeling secure and calm. Go through your list and talk about how the problem affects you without referring to your neighbor himself or bringing morality into the discussion. Approaching a problem like this when emotions run high will work against you, because you’ll have a more challenging time explaining the situation. At the same time, your neighbor will be more likely to respond aggressively.
Be prepared to compromise
Sometimes an issue can’t be solved fully in your favor, so it’s best to have contingency plans prepared. Before going in, consider what the perfect resolution would be, but also think about other concessions that might not be ideal but will reduce the issue to a point where it happens rarely or isn’t noticeable. For example, if you have noisy neighbors, but they can’t keep it quiet all the time, you could both shift your schedule a bit to work out a schedule for quiet and active hours.
Understand your lease and local laws
Ensure you know the terms of your lease and the apartment community rules if all other approaches fail. The same goes for local laws. If the problem persists and your neighbor isn’t showing any signs of understanding, you might have to refer to legal agreements or local regulations. Knowing whether any legal documents or laws cover the issue you’re having will also tell you how assertive you can be in your approach. If your neighbors are noisy during quiet hours, it’s one thing, but if they’re excessively loud when they’re allowed to, you won’t have much luck with an aggressive approach.
Escalate the problem
The previous steps should help you resolve any minor issues with reasonable neighbors, but you can escalate the problem to your landlord or property manager if they don’t work. They might be able to help mediate the conflict, or if your lease agreement or community rules cover the problem, they have the authority to enforce them.
If all else fails, leave a bad situation
The fact of the matter is that you might be better off moving out if you have “bad” neighbors. Everyone runs into an unsolvable issue from time to time, and your mental health isn’t worth the constant stress of managing people who don’t want to be reasonable. If you’re tried everything in your power, and your neighbors are still bothersome, check the terms of your lease to see if you can break it based on the dispute.
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