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How to Deal with Neighbours to Maintain Good Relationships

Noise issues

Loud music and guests, barking dogs, loud machinery -- what can you do about it? First, try talking to your neighbour. If a peaceful resolution isn’t possible, check into local bylaws. In most municipalities, early morning and late-night noise is restricted. Contact a bylaw enforcement officer if these rules are being ignored. If the party noise is excessive and city offices are closed, you can call the police who can break it up.

Untidy neighbours

Is your neighbour so unkempt that it has become unbearable? If your neighbour has piles of garbage or junk, foot-long grass, or abandoned vehicles or machinery (and is uncooperative when you speak to him or her about the problem), your next step is to call a bylaw enforcement officer to ask them to inspect the property. If your complaint is valid and depending on the laws and regulations in your municipality, the owner may be ordered to clean up the property, or the municipality might issue a fine or clean it up at the owner’s expense.

Animal complaints

Animal complaints usually fall into 3 categories: attacks by an animal, owners who don’t clean up after their animal, or abuse of an animal. Sometimes, speaking to the neighbour can be enough to change their behaviour. As for animal attacks, they should be reported immediately to the police as it is endangering the safety of other people. Owners can be fined or even charged in this instance. Plus, most municipalities have bylaws requiring owners to pick up after their dog and will issue fines for non-compliance.

Fences & sheds

Be considerate when you put up a fence or shed. Check the height rules and your lot survey before you build and share your plans with your neighbour.

  • Municipal bylaws govern fence or hedge height. If your neighbour’s fence exceeds the height bylaws, show them the lot survey and ask them to make the necessary modifications. If unsuccessful, the city can inspect their property and ensure compliance
  • A fence on a property boundary means shared ownership, even if the costs weren’t shared. Both parties are responsible to keep it in good condition and they must get permission from the other one to take it down
  • If you think your neighbour’s fence or shed is encroaching onto your property, check the lot survey. If it is the case, speak to your neighbour about it. If not resolved, a court could order the neighbour to remove and relocate the fence or structure so it’s off your property

Trees

Their trees

If your neighbour’s tree branches hang over your property, check to see if your municipality allows you to cut the branches up to your property line. Never enter your neighbour's property or take down their tree, as this could put you in a lot of trouble.

Your trees

If a tree growing on your property falls on your neighbour’s roof or vehicle during a storm through no fault of your own, you may not be responsible for the damage. But if your tree’s roots enter their property and damage their pipes, lawn, or foundation, you may not be held responsible for the damage. If you find yourself in such situation, check with your insurer.

Tips for being a good neighbour

Locked in a dispute with a neighbour over boundary lines, snow removal, animals or noise? Try citizen mediation to restore good relations, which is free in many municipalities. These mediators are neutral 3rd parties who work to find a mutually agreeable solution.

The good news? You can prevent disputes before they start by fostering good relations with your neighbours. Here are some easy ideas:

  1. Introduce yourself: New neighbours might appreciate a friendly face and useful information about their new neighbourhood (e.g. where to find supermarkets, parks, good restaurants, shops)
  2. Stop to chat: Ask if they’d like some of your garden bounty or just talk about the weather
  3. Invite your neighbours over: An informal barbecue or backyard party is a good way to break the ice
  4. Be considerate: If you borrow something, return it quickly and in good condition. Bring in their recycle bins as a favour 
  5. If there is a problem, address it honestly. Try approaching your neighbour directly but without emotion. State the problem clearly and tell them how you think it can be resolved. Be prepared to compromise

For more on this topic, visit:

Handling the owner next door

4 annoying neighbours and how to deal with them

5 ways to meet people in your neighbourhood

How to Deal with Neighbours to Maintain Good Relationships

How to resolve disputes in a friendly manner with neighbours to have a good relationship with them.

Ever had an issue with neighbours about noisy parties, property boundary disagreements, etc? Join the club! Luckily, most situations can be settled by a simple conversation. Here are some typical complaints between neighbours and ways to resolve them.

The Personal refers to The Personal General Insurance Inc. in Quebec and The Personal Insurance Company in all other provinces and territories.

The information and advice in this article are provided for informational purposes only. The Personal shall not be liable for any damages arising from any reliance upon such information or advice. The Personal recommends using caution and consulting an expert for comprehensive, expert advice.