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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4. The Borrower

He sponges your gardening tools. He needs to take your weedwacker "for just a sec." Now he has a yard sale worth of your stuff, and you want it back — pronto.

Take what's yours: Your neighbor isn't keeping those hedge clippers because he's trying to be a jerk, Rick says. It's simply that "people have busy lives, they have stress and they forget things." His solution: "When he pops over to borrow something, write down what you're loaning out in front of him and agree on a return date. Then say, 'If it's not back by then, can I give you a call?' Folks are far less likely to miss a deadline that they set themselves."

5. The Constant Complainer

He gripes about every little thing, from the oak tree that’s hanging over his fence to the light in your kitchen that he suddenly decides is too bright.

Avoid him: It's just about impossible to satisfy this type of neighbor, so it's not worth trying, says Amy. "When you actually listen to him and fix what he's been complaining about, he's like, 'Whoo! Somebody's going to do what I say!' And he'll come at you even more."

So keep every encounter brief: If you see him approach, quicken your pace like you're in a huge rush. "Do not engage," advises Patricia. "If he says your kitchen light is too bright, repeat back, 'Ohh ... my kitchen light's too bright,' and keep walking. A person like that is constantly on the prowl for someone to tussle with. When he learns that he can't do it with you, he'll move on."

If one of his complaints is legit (OK, so maybe your tree does hang pretty low over his fence), Amy suggests saying something like, "Thank you. I appreciate your concern. We'll see what we can do about it." Always keep the conversation brief.

6. The Lazy Slob

The paint on their house is chipping. Weeds creep up across the front yard. Upkeep is clearly not their top priority.

Clean up the block: Again, check your town's codes and ordinances — they might be your best weapon against this war on the weeds next door. "Most neighborhoods have regulations," says Rick, "but they don't police them because they have so few resources. Once something is reported, though, they're obligated to look into it." That said, if the neighbor is a friend, Patricia suggests offering some help. "Especially if things were up to par before, and you suddenly notice a difference," she adds. "Maybe they have a sick family member, which is preventing them from being able to keep up their house."

You could also offer to share a lawn service or house painter. "Approach the neighbor with 'great news,' like, 'Hey, I just interviewed a new lawn service, and if more than one house uses their company, we all get a 20-percent discount. Do you want to go in with me?' That way you will seem supportive, not judgmental," says Patricia.

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