Dealing with Difficult Neighbors

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Perhaps your upstairs neighbors are elephants. Or your downstairs neighbors smoke right below your open window. Or maybe your next door neighbors have a habit of throwing "ragers" the night before you have to leave at 5:00am for work. Anyway, when you live in close quarters with neighbors irritations are bound to arise.

How do you address these problems without aggravating the situation further? 

Before you start, evaluate the issue. Is this something you can solve without involving your neighbor? Does that window need to be open? Can you change shifts so you don't have to get up early on the weekends? The best solution is one that you can handle on your own and put the situation back in your control!

If not, other solutions include...

Address the problem in person: A conversation is always better than a note and helps you make it clear that your intentions are not aggressive or passive aggressive. Explain the situation from your perspective. Assume that you neighbors don't realize how they are burdening you; they probably don't. If you can't reach your neighbor in person and must leave a note, be sure to include your phone number. This way they know that you are open to having a conversation about the issue.

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Compromise: Your perfect living environments probably aren't the same. Try to reach a happy middle ground. For example, institute quiet hours after 12 pm on days when you have to work early. Or see if your neighbors would be willing to move their smoking spot to a place where you don't have open windows near by. 

If compromising doesn't work you may have to seek assistance from your landlord or property management company. If your neighbors are within the same apartment complex or at a property owned by the same landlord, you may be able to seek help with mediation. If your neighbor is a BC student, you can also seek mediation help from the Off-Campus Housing Office. 

Check the Rules: Perhaps your neighbor is in violation of apartment building rules outlined in your lease or even neighborhood ordinances. Do some research and approach your neighbor about these possible violations before involving authorities. As a last resort, contact an authority (property manager, landlord, or police). Keep in mind, contacting authorities may lead to a permanently damaged neighborly relationship.

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Final Note: Some irritating neighbor issues can't be resolved. For example, I live in a large apartment community. One of my neighbors plays the drums, all the time. Although it is annoying, the noise is not excessively loud, or late at night. Also, since my building is large I have no way of know which apartment the noise is coming from. For issues like these, try to see if there is a solution you can reach on your own. I can drown out the noise by turning on my ac unit. I can turn on my own music or go for a walk during the jam session. I'm glad that one of the perks of renting is being able to move when my lease expires... so it won't be long until I can leave the little drummer boy behind! 

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