What to Do When Your Neighbors Drive You Nuts

Had it up to here with the folks next door? Take a deep breath and heed this expert advice.

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1. The Street Hog

He thinks the whole block is his parking lot. His boat casts a giant shadow across your lawn. His RV takes up half the street. Meanwhile, his driveway is empty.

Help him move: First check your town's website for local codes and ordinances. If there's something on the books that addresses street parking violations, you can phone in a complaint to the police. "But if you live in a neighborhood where it's not illegal, and it's really bothering you," says Patricia Rossi, author of Everyday Etiquette, "you can always go over and say, 'We're going to have company, so you know that tractor you have parked in front of my driveway? Can you put it in your garage?'" Figuring out a solution is a two-way street.

Once you've raised the question, it's pretty much out of your hands. If things don't change, try recruiting other neighbors who feel the same way you do. The more sympathizers on your side, the better.

2. The Constant Doorbell Ringer

Here she comes again — the neighbor who habitually drops by without calling first, making you feel like you're under siege.

Get rid of her: Open the door a crack and say, "It's not a good time — can we catch up later?" Do that enough, Patricia says, "and she'll know that she has to call first."

If she really doesn't get the hint, you'll have to toughen up and start setting boundaries, says Amy Johnson, Ph.D., a Chicago psychologist. "Tell her, 'Dropping by makes me kind of uncomfortable. I'd love to see you from time to time, but please call first to see if we're doing anything.'" Relax, you're not creating conflict, says Amy. "I've seen it work a million times."

3. The Ear Splitter

You always know when these neighbors are around: They slam car doors when they get in at midnight; they throw rowdy parties; their music shakes your living room walls.

Quiet them down: Start the conversation with, "Listen, I really need your help," Patricia recommends. "When you tell people this, their whole body language changes. Then say, 'I have to be on the train at 6 am, and your wonderful kids, who are so athletic' — be positive! — 'were playing basketball until one in the morning, and I couldn't sleep. What do you think we could do?'"

Finding a friendly family member is a good approach too, suggests Rick Kirschner, author of How to Click With People. When his neighbor's son started a routine with a heavy metal band, Rick knocked on the door and told the person who answered, "There's something I want you to hear." As they got closer to Rick’s house, the neighbor agreed that it was, indeed, pretty darn loud. Then Rick asked, "Is there someplace else where they can practice?" It worked.

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