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Bad Neighbors: What to Do Legally

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

Last updated 11/7/2019

Everyone has to deal with annoying neighbors, especially if you live in an urban neighborhood. But what if your neighbor's behaviors amount to harassment? Below are some suggestions on actions you can take to fix problems with a bad neighbor.

Communication Can Be Key

Before taking the matter to a third party, consider trying a less adversarial way to solve the issue. A simple, over-the-fence discussion may clear up some misunderstandings.

Hiring a mediator may also help you work through the issues and come up with an acceptable solution for all parties.

Live in a Community With a Homeowners' Association? You Have Additional Resources

If your neighbor is not willing to solve the problem through dialogue, the next step is to go to your homeowners association and explain the problem.

Almost all homeowners associations have policies and guidelines on how to solve neighbor disputes. Associations have a variety of things they can regulate. These, among other things, include noise, pets, and home-owned businesses. Therefore, if your neighbor is not following the bylaws and guidelines, your homeowners association has authority to step in and remedy the problem.

What Do Zoning Laws Say?

Another remedy you might have is to look at local zoning and ordinance laws. This can be especially useful if your community does not have a homeowners association. If you can show that your neighbor violated a local law, you can bring a petition to a small claims court to either seek injunction or damages.

Your Neighbor Is Still Harassing You? Call the Police

If you have tried all the possible ways to solve the issue and nothing seems to work, it may be time to involve the authorities. You should resort to this if you feel unsafe or you are scared for your well-being and/or the well-being of your family members.

Let the police know that you have attempted to solve the problem, but your neighbors are continuing to harass you. The police will conduct an investigation and you will likely be called as a witness if the case goes to court.

Additional Resources

Bad Neighbors? An Attorney Can Help

If possible, disputes with neighbors should be handled amicably. But this is not always possible. There are situations when you need to take legal action. If you are considering taking legal action against your neighbor or want to know more about the process, consult a real estate attorney.

Next Steps

Contact a qualified attorney to help you address difficulties with your neighbors.

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