The food stall owners who leave litter all over the neighbourhood, the family with the five dogs that bark around the clock, the couple next door that seem to do one renovation project after another — these are all awful neighbours to have. But what can you do if you encounter them? Go on and read our 7-point battle plan below (although hopefully, it doesn’t escalate into an actual battle, legal or otherwise).
1. Be the Best Neighbour You Can Be
Prevention is always the best way to go, so be a good neighbour yourself. Be friendly, get to know the people you share common space with, even if it’s just small talk as you both walk to your cars before work or you’re watering your plants or going for a run. Establishing a casual, friendly relationship doesn’t solve all of the problems but if things do start going south, later on, you can comfortably approach them and address the issue. It could be infinitely more daunting to do so if that’s the first time you’re even interacting with them.
Other ways to be a good neighbour:
– Small gestures of kindness (offers of homemade baked goods are always appreciated)
– Notify them if you’re planning a gathering and anticipate a loud crowd
– Invite them to these gatherings every once in a while
– Give them a heads-up before starting any renovation work (especially your next-door neighbours)
Hopefully, all of your work from the previous point results in a beautiful harmonious neighbourhood with little to no problems at all. If not, don’t panic. This is where that friendly acquaintanceship comes into play. Communication is so important in all relationships, and the relationship between neighbours is no exception. If your neighbour does something that upsets or irritates you, and they do it often, tell them! Don’t just complain to your friends or go on a social media rampage. Chances are, they don’t realise that what they do bothers you so much. Assuming they’re a decent person and you approach them in a reasonable, non-accusatory way, they’ll most likely be happy to find a solution to the problem with you.
3. Keep a Record of the Issues/Incidents
What if the communication doesn’t work and they continue doing whatever it is that annoys you? For example, you’ve approached them about their noisy parties that leave a mess all over your street in the morning but they do nothing to accommodate your concerns. Start keeping a record. Make it detailed — what happened, when it happened and who was involved. Also take videos or photos of the damage done to your neighbourhood or property. It’s always better to get things down on paper so you don’t forget or wrongly recall events later. Also, in the worst case scenario of a legal dispute, your documentation of the incidents may put you in a better position to win the case.
4. Rally the Other Neighbours
If the house across from you is undergoing a renovation that is becoming a serious nuisance to the neighbourhood (trucks obstructing the road, noise pollution, mounds of cement or other construction equipment left out in the open for days or weeks), then chances are that you’re not suffering alone. Speak with your other neighbours about it, get support from each other and come up with solutions (that don’t involve torches and pitchforks). If one of these allies is particularly close to the offending neighbour, send them as an envoy to try and resolve things informally. Or else, write a polite but firm letter to the offender about the issues and how you would like it resolved. Have it signed by all the allies.
5. File an Official Complaint
If you know the offending neighbour’s landlord (or you both have the same landlord), then reach out to him/her and explain that you and others are disturbed by the actions of that particular tenant. No landlord? No worries. Do some research to confirm whether or not your bad neighbour is actually breaking any laws or regulations (in particular, laws concerning noise violations, property maintenance, property destruction, trespassing, etc.) so that you can confidently file a complaint to your local neighbourhood authority, such as DBKL for those in the Kuala Lumpur area. This, also, is where your detailed record-keeping comes in handy.
6. Report to the Police
Only do this if the neighbour is doing/has done something explicitly illegal or harmful. For example, if they start being violent or aggressive towards you, harassing you, or behaving recklessly in other ways.
7. Take Legal Action
When nothing else in this list works, it’s time to consult a lawyer to find out what you can do about the situation. Can you take legal action against your neighbours? An even better question is, should you? Well, this should be the absolute last resort. Lawsuits are extremely costly in terms of both money and time and in some cases, even when you’re in the right, there’s a possibility that you may not win the case. So, again: last resort.
With any luck, you’ll never have to face these kinds of problems as it really can affect the atmosphere in which you live. After all, neighbours are supposed to be there for each other and work together to make the place you all call home the best it can be.
However, if you meet someone who doesn’t share those values, hopefully these 7 pointers were helpful for you in some way. Visit NuProp.my to find listings for new property launches far, far away from your bad neighbours.
Images: thisismoney.co.uk, dribble.com, dribble.com, charterofcompassion.org