Love thy neighbor? It may be more like "love thy neighbor dispute." According to a new FindLaw.com survey, 42% of Americans say they've been involved in a dispute with their neighbors.
While most neighborly arguments don't turn into Hatfield v. McCoy-type feuds, they can still be difficult to deal with. Some can even land you in court.
So what are the Top 5 types of neighbor disputes, and what are the best ways to resolve them?
According to FindLaw's survey, neighbor disputes are most often triggered by:
- Noise (48% of all disputes). Whether it be from raucous late-night parties or maybe different sleep schedules that result in one neighbor waking up the other, noise is apparently the No. 1 way to annoy your neighbor.
- Pets and animals (29%). Pets and animals can be tricky to deal with directly, since it is the animal that is causing the problem and not the owner. But many times the issue stems from the owner's failure to properly handle or train his animal.
- Children's behavior (21%). Much like pets, children running onto your property, being loud, or defacing your property can often be the result of their parents -- i.e., your adult neighbors -- not properly looking after them. State laws may even hold the kids' parents liable for damages.
- A visual nuisance, the property's appearance, trash, etc. (18%). Many eyesores, such as unkempt lawns, offensive signs, or overflowing trash cans can lead to ill will between neighbors.
- Property boundaries (17%). In these types of disputes, neighbors often have misconceptions about where their property begins and ends.
So how do neighbors typically go about resolving their disputes?
Nearly half -- 49% -- say they've gone with a direct approach, and have discussed the issue with their neighbor. This may be the most practical and effective way to solve the problem. As long as the issue is handled with caution and not delivered in a way that is combative or accusatory, your neighbor should be fairly understanding.
Then again, more than 1 in 4 -- 27% -- say they've called the police, which can sometimes be inefficient, especially if no crime is involved. Another 15% say they've complained to their homeowners' association or other neighborhood group.
Yet another way to resolve neighbor disputes is by sending a letter, note, or email, which 11% of survey respondents have done.
An experienced lawyer can help with the wording of your letter if the issue is particularly sensitive, or you may want consider signing up for an affordable personal legal plan that includes attorney-drafted letters. For example, LegalStreet plans start at less than $13 a month and also include on-call access to local lawyers who can answer your questions about neighbor disputes and many other areas of the law.
(Disclosure: LegalStreet and FindLaw.com are owned by the same company.)