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Bad neighbors don’t have to be a nightmare. Setting a good example yourself and working with your neighbors in a respectful way can solve problems before they happen. 

Here are some ways to be a good neighbor. 

Start by making sure you’re not the person that’s driving everyone nuts. Before you can ask someone else to turn their loud music down or keep their dogs from barking all night, you can be a model homeowner and make sure you’re not doing the things you don’t want your neighbors doing. 

These include keeping your home well maintained so it isn’t an eyesore, respecting property lines and not having your fences or trees encroach on a neighbor’s property, and not seeking minor revenge for problems. 

It can also help to develop a friendly relationship with your neighbors. Introduce yourself and establish a friendly rapport so that if a problem arises, you can resolve it easily. You can also be a good neighbor by volunteering to collect a neighbor’s mail when they’re on vacation. It’s also a good idea to be proactive and tell neighbors ahead of time if you’re doing a renovation or anything else that will create a lot of noise. 

When approaching someone with a complaint, go into the conversation with the idea that they have good intentions and may not realize that what they’re doing is a problem. 

Your initial complaint may elicit a complaint by your neighbor about you, so take it as constructive criticism and be thankful for the help in resolving an issue that you may not have realized is causing a problem for someone else. 

Problems can escalate, making this  a good time to involve a third party. A homeowners association, neighborhood group, city building department, animal control, code enforcement, police or an attorney could help. To help other people deal with the issue, document the problem with photos, emails, texts and other facts. 

Your HOA, police and other groups may require a formal complaint. Do your research and know what the neighborhood and city rules are before going this far, and do everything else you can to resolve it yourself. The police should be your last resort. 

If none of this works, you should still avoid the temptation to do things that will upset the neighbors. Continuing a feud will not help matters. Don’t leave your barking dogs outside all day, for example, or crank up your music as a way to get revenge. Doing these things could lead to you being the neighbor everyone despises.

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