After 16 years of being a homeowners association property manager, I have heard every type of neighbor to neighbor complaint. For example, the dog barks all day, the smoke from my neighbors barbecue stinks, the neighbor cooks fish and reeks up the place, my neighbor smokes and it comes into my home, my neighbor plays his music all night or the TV is on all day. Two of my favorites are "I can hear my neighbor walking at night" and "I can hear them use the bathroom!"
Communication within your homeowners association community is key. It's often the best way to prevent and resolve most of these complaints and avoid the legal system. You don't have to be friends or spend time together with your neighbors to achieve a peaceful coexistence, but you should try to be a good neighbor and follow these tips:
Say hello to your neighbors.At the mailbox, while walking the dog or when you see a moving van arrive, introduce yourself. Learn your neighbor's names and regularly offer a friendly greeting.
Provide a heads up. If you're planning a construction project, altering your landscaping or hosting a big party, contact your neighbors in the homeowners association beforehand.
Know your differences. Make an effort to understand each other. Differences in age, ethnic background and years living in the homeowners association neighborhood can lead to different expectations or misunderstandings.
Consider the view. Keep areas of your property that your neighbors can see presentable.
Appreciate them. If your neighbors do something you like, let them know. They'll be pleased you noticed, and it'll be easier to talk later if they do something you don't like.
Stay positive. Most people in the homeowners association don't try to create problems. If your neighbors do something that irritates you, don't assume it was deliberate.
Talk honestly. Tolerance is important, but don't let a real irritation go because it seems unimportant or hard to discuss. Let your neighbors know if something they do annoys you.
Be respectful. Talk directly to your neighbors if there's a problem. Gossiping with others within the homeowners association can damage relationships and create trouble.
Remain calm. If your neighbors mention a problem they have with you, thank them for the input. You don't have to agree or justify any behavior. Wait for any anger to subside before responding.
Listen carefully. When discussing a problem, try to understand your neighbor's position and why he or she feels that way.
Take your time. Take a break to think about what you and your neighbors have discussed. Arrange to finish the conversation at another time.
Most importantly remember the golden rule to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This will help you maintain a harmonious relationship with your neighbors in the homeowners association.