How to resolve conflicts effectively

Whether you are living in a house, small complex or large apartment building, you will always have neighbours.  Good relationships with your neighbours can mean the difference between having someone reliable to pick up your mail while you are away and having to listen to music blare until the wee hours of the morning.

When you have a neighbour that does something repeatedly annoying or disrupts the quality of your life, it is important to address it as early as possible.  When you try to ignore a situation for too long, the frustration can build up and eventually explode, making it a bigger deal than it was to begin with.

What you can do

The first think you should do is talk to your neighbour.  Make sure that if you have been annoyed you have some time to calm down first.  The more level headed and calm you are when approaching your neighbour, the less likely they are to act defensively or ignore your request.  Try not to accuse anyone but explain your situation and ask for his or her help in resolving your predicament.  When you ask for someone’s help, they are much less likely to listen to you if you are accusing them of something they don’t feel responsible for.

Chances are that you neighbour unintentionally caused whatever frustration you approached them about.  Try to give your neighbour the benefit of the doubt when first approaching the situation. They may not have realized how loud their music is or that walking around in heels is so disturbing to those downstairs or even how much it stresses you out not to close the building door properly when they leave in the morning.

If talking to your neighbour is not effective, you should approach your landlord.  It is your landlord’s responsibility to make sure that you are able to live in your apartment undisturbed.  They can set guidelines called lease provisions that can restrict tenants from creating disturbing noise between certain hours of the day, or require tenants to keep the area in front of their apartment clean or shoes or other clutter etc.

Your landlord should take note of your frustrations, especially if you have been a good tenant and you address the situation with politeness.  If for some reason your landlord does not address your complaints and your neighbour has either threatened you, damaged your property or you have witnessed illegal activity; you can call the police.  At no point should your security be compromised and your landlord may realize the severity of the situation if there is a visit from the police.  Do not attempt to involve the police however if you landlord is trying to take care of the situation or if your neighbour seems willing to try to resolve the issue, as it may just anger them and cause any confrontation to escalate.

Finally, keep in mind that if you live with unpleasant neighbours for long enough you may want start your next apartment search early so that once your lease is up you know where your next options are.

What NOT to do

You should:

  • Not wait until a small issue becomes a big problem
  • Not make an equal amount of noise or disruption to try and make your point
  • Not become aggressive or make threats
  • Not react in a hostile manner if your neighbour gets defensive or becomes confrontational
  • Not leave your neighbour notes or voicemails that could be misinterpreted