(NEW YORK) — We’ve all been there. The party animals who live next door keep you up all night with their loud music or the grumpy old neighbor who refuses to mow his lawn just yelled at you for parking too close to his driveway.
It can be frustrating. But there are ways of approaching these neighborly problems before you start plotting revenge or end up with toilet paper in your trees.
Bob Borzotta, the author of Neighbors From Hell: Managing Today’s Brand of Conflict Close to Home, spent years researching conflicts between nasty neighbors and gathering insight on how best to handle them in a civil manner.
For ABC News 20/20‘s “Nasty Neighbors” special, which airs on Friday, Sept. 20, Borzotta offered his top 10 tips for dealing with neighbors undeterred by good fences.
1. Live Where You Belong
Seniors who have already raised a family may not be happy in a family-friendly neighborhood with loud kids and flying baseballs. Families should not move into an apartment building that caters to college students. Young, single partiers will not typically be appreciated (or tolerated) in communities where the neighbors wake up early for work and go to bed well before 2 a.m.
2. Be a Good Neighbor Yourself
Lack of familiarity can breed contempt, so know your neighbors’ names, wave and say hello. Teach your kids to say hello to neighbors. Mind your noise, mow your lawn, hold the elevator door. Common decency is common sense.
3. Be Patient
If you do have a beef with your neighbor, wait at least 24 hours after an incident to raise the concern. That way your temper doesn’t take over.
4. Choose Battles Wisely
Remember that an enemy next door can cause years of anxiety and can affect your home’s value, so approach a potential conflict very carefully.
5. Be a Diplomat, But be Strong
Don’t apologize for raising an issue, but consider holding off on complaining about an incident that happened just once. People screw up. It may not happen again.
6. Prepare Psychologically
If you’re in an ongoing conflict, know that you’re not alone and you are not crazy. One of the sources of stress in neighbor wars is thinking you’ve done something to deserve mistreatment. In many case, you haven’t. You just live next door to a jerk.
7. Know Local Laws
Be prepared to cite ordinances and regulations on noise, trash, curfews, etc., that govern your homeowner’s association, municipality, county and/or state — all are available online, in libraries and through condo and co-op board secretaries.
8. Document Your Case
Use video surveillance to gather proof of ongoing nuisances, and keep a detailed log of dates and times of a neighbor’s ongoing offenses.
9. Realize the Cops Cannot Solve This
If police become involved, their job is to advise the parties on any resolution services available in the municipality, and to arrest those clearly committing a crime. They are not mediators and they generally do not take sides unless someone has been physically injured.
10. Learn How to Take Back Your Neighborhood
Understand that Neighbors From Hell don’t magically become great neighbors, and friendship is seldom found in the wake of a long-lived war. Today’s brand of serious conflict close to home gets corrected as it comes up and then managed on an ongoing basis.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio