Condo Owner’s Dilemma: How to Deal with Problem Neighbors

Quarrel with neighbour indoorBy Emily Harper

Are you having problems with your new condo neighbor? Unlike in a rental, moving out at the end of the lease is not an option so you have to learn to deal with the problem neighbor. If left unresolved, neighbor issues can make everyone’s life stressful but many new condo owners may hesitate to effectively deal with difficult neighbors. To have good relationship with your neighbor, you should be able to identify the problem and the ways to resolve it. To help you, here are 8 condo common neighbor problems and their solutions.

The Noise is Driving You Nuts!

Possibly the number one complaint of condo owners is having a noisy neighbor that drives you up the wall. It can be the loud stereo player, babies crying, or loud footsteps—noises that can trigger your reflexes to just shout back and get mad. The first step you should take is to assess the situation. Is the noise due to a special occasion or festivity? If such is the case, it would be best to let it go, unless it’s unreasonably late. In cases where you really need to address the problem, it’s important that you deal with it nicely. Gently knock on your neighbor’s door and try saying, “Perhaps you don’t realize the sound from your stereo is loud? I’d appreciate if you turn down the volume.” Most of the time that is all that you need to do. However, if that does not help, then you need to find out from your homeowner’s association what are the next steps under the building’s rules.

You’re Made Into a Second Supermarket

While lending your neighbor house tools or kitchen stuff can foster good relations, too much is definitely annoying and unhealthy. There is no going around this, you just really have to learn to say no. Deal with new neighbors who cause this problem by firmly yet nicely declining. When your neighbor swings by, try saying “I’m sorry but I’m almost out myself” or “Too bad, but I wish I had an extra to spare.” Doing this will encourage your neighbor to be more self-sufficient without cutting ties with you.

They Don’t Want to Deal With You in Person

Introvert condo neighbors may seem hard to deal with at first, but things get better once you get past common misconceptions and learn ways to befriend them. Sometimes, their manner of dealing with things catches you off guard. For example, your introvert neighbor leaves you a note on your door complaining about the noise you were allegedly making. Or you suddenly receive an email complaint about another problem they have with you. These tactics are ineffective because you don’t understand their tone or you are not given the chance to dialogue. When you have a neighbor who does not want to deal with you in person, it’s best that you initiate the first move. Be pleasant and keep your cool and learn to know your introvert condo neighbor.

Cigarette Smoke Seeps Into Your Condo Unit

Photo courtesy of Alexas_Fotos via Pixabay

Photo courtesy of Alexas_Fotos via Pixabay

The hallway in a condominiums is not an extension of any unit. It is important, therefore, to be mindful of your belongings not overflowing into common spaces. What about cigarette smoke? Smoke is trickier than solid objects because it can enter through the the front door and leave a lasting smell. As usually is the case, the problem is caused by neighbors who take a puff near your door. Approach your smoking neighbor in a polite way. They should understand and adjust their smoking habits. If this does not work, check out the smoking policy of your condo and your local laws about second-hand smoke. Most condos prohibit smoking in common areas and provide designated locations in the building. Use this as basis when dealing with a smoking neighbor.

The Gossip is Getting Out of Hand

Are you upset your neighbor is gossiping about you as though you’re a celebrity? Well, even if you are, gossiping can be a serious problem. The thing with gossips is they rarely, if ever, stick to the truth. Gossips are unhealthy whether you’re the topic or the one hearing about them. Unless it’s getting out of hand, don’t dignify your gossiping neighbors by joining in the discussion. If they have misconceptions or opinions about you, then let it be. If your neighbor tries to tempt you into a gossip session, remember the general rule: You can deal with bad neighbors by being firm without being mean. You can say, “I really don’t understand why you have those views or feelings, because I have a different take on the matter.” Doing this let’s your gossiping neighbors know that you are not interested in joining in their idle talk.

Your Neighbor Doesn’t Like Your Dog

Dogs are cute, cuddly, and called man’s best friend for a reason. They also offer you companionship and make your life so much better! However, it is a fact of life that not all neighbors love dogs or other house pets. Some are allergic to them, while others just don’t like them. Depending on your neighbor’s complaints, you can definitely still create living arrangement where your dog and neighbor can co-exist. If your neighbor is allergic, just make sure your pet is mostly indoors. When you go for a walk outside you don’t linger in closed common spaces. If it’s the barking, remember that your pet may be still getting used to the new space, so explain to your neighbor about it calmly. If the barking does not stop, then it’s up to you to to identify the reason and find a solution.

Your Neighbor is Bossing You Around

It’s difficult, though not impossible, to handle bossy neighbors who don’t listen to your complaints or who give you to-do lists like they are your employers. In dealing with this kind of neighbor, it’s important that you listen first to what they are saying rather than focus on how they talk to you. That way, you lessen the emotional intensity that can provoke you to deal with the problem like they do. With a level-headed disposition, you will be able to clearly discuss with your neighbor the problem. Explain your side and lay down the concrete steps both of you can take. Escalating the case to the management should be seen as the last resort.

Your Neighbor Can be Dangerous

One of the most serious dilemmas when meeting a new neighbor relates to the issue of security. It’s sad but true that some neighbors may have criminal backgrounds or tendencies or socialize with unsavory guests who cause problems in the building. When you’re suspicious of your neighbor and are concerned about your security, the first important step is you don’t make hasty assumptions or jump to conclusions. Gather evidence properly and record instances when you feel unsafe. That way, everything is documented and you avoid relying on your biases. Then, you can either discuss the matter with your condo management or in some cases go straight to the police. You can also consider installing surveillance camera to feel more secure.

Although some new neighbor problems are unavoidable, they can still be handled properly. Follow the suggestions in dealing with these 8 common problems the next time you encounter a difficult neighbor. After all, what are new neighbor problems if not opportunities to find new friends and make your condo living truly relaxing, comfortable, and harmonious for everyone?

Emily Harper is an Environment/Sustainability/Health and Women Advocate. She is also fond of analyzing home structure and design and has been a Home Stylist and Consultant.


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Comments (2)

  1. Audrey tracy

    Side I have bought my condo, a new owner has purchased the unit above me. This is an 800 square-foot condo , and the upstairs tenant has two adult children. One of them is autistic. He is 27 years old, and gets very little outside help. He watches cartoons all day. The mother has psychological problems herself , and is VERY difficult to deal with. The noise is unbelievable, at all hours of the day and night. The son runs up and down the hall loudly, throws himself around the condo at 3 AM, plus they argue constantly. I have tried to talk to her directly, but it does not go well. She turns herself into the victim, claiming no one understands her, we are mean to her, etc.
    We have also called the police on several occasions for the noise. Nothing comes of it, they seem to side with her. After they leave, she comes down banging on our door, yelling at us for calling the police. She states the cops tell her there is nothing we can do, we are wasting their time by calling
    We have also called the local social services department. They have come out, and say that since the sons basic needs are being met, there is nothing they can do.
    We have also gone to the condominium board, and they forwarded our concerns to the property management company. No one wants to touch this problem, because the son is disabled. They are afraid of a lawsuit for discrimination. The other owners in the building have had it. What about our rights? There has got to be something we can do! Any suggestions

    • Valerie

      Call Adult Protective Services OFTEN and they’ll get sick of being disturbed and then move.