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5 Tips for Diffusing Disputes with Your Neighbour

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Note: This article about neighbour disputes does not contain legal advice.  If you would like advice on your specific situation, please contact Spraggs Law.

According to a 2013 survey, more than 40 percent of homeowners have reported having a dispute with a neighbour. The top complaints typically are:

  • Noise
  • Pets
  • Children
  • Property upkeep
  • Property boundaries
  • Fencing
  • Parking

While conflicts between neighbours are actually quite common, they can be confounding. Because most of us tend to avoid conflict in the first place, when a dispute arises, we rarely know how to resolve them. Usually people deal with disputes with neighbours by calling the police. Others may even hire a lawyer. 

However, there are steps you can take to remedy the situation yourself. Here are several suggestions for preventing conflicts:

1. Keep an Open Mind

If your neighbour does something that irritates you — or complains about something — don’t take it personally. Most people don’t intentionally try to create problems. Presume the neighbour doesn’t know about the annoyance. If we jump to the conclusion that the other person is the enemy, we decrease the possibility of an easy resolution.

2. Be Direct (But Remain Polite)

If a neighbour does something that interferes with your quality of life, be sure to communicate the problem clearly and calmly. Try to be concise when explaining the problem, using “I” statements that focus on how you feel.

3. Keep Your Cool

If a neighbour appears to lose their cool when trying to discuss a problem they feel you have caused, try to keep your cool, and avoid becoming angry or defensive. If you can listen and hear them out, ideally their anger will subside, and it will be easier to communicate.

4. Remember to Listen

When you discuss a problem, try to understand how your neighbour feels about the issue and why. Understanding is not the same as agreeing, will increase the likelihood of a solution that works for you both.

5. Don’t Rush It

Sometimes, hitting “pause” and taking a break to think things through can help resolve a conflict. Explain yourself, hear your neighbour out, and arrange to finish the conversation later.

Final Tip: Talk to Your Neighbours

Introduce yourself while out and about in the neighbourhood. By learning your neighbours’ names and you can prevent potential conflicts before they arise. As well, conflict can sometimes be an opportunity for increased understanding and improved communication and relationships when handled properly.

Questions About British Columbia Law?

Note: This article does not contain legal advice.  If you would like advice on your specific situation, please contact Spraggs Law.