Everybody needs good neighbours! Here are tips for getting the friendship right.
Sure, the promise of a spare cup of sugar is nice, but there are so many great things about being mates with your neighbours. To mark Neighbour Day on March 25th, we’re sharing tips on good neighbour etiquette and some useful things to know when it comes to common disputes.
First impressions count
Day one of moving in will no-doubt be a busy one. Once you’ve tamed at least a few of the boxes, find time to say hi to your new neighbours – whether they’re upstairs, downstairs or next-door neighbours, it’s worth introducing yourself. You don’t want your first interaction to be fielding a complaint over noise or where your removalist’s truck is parked. If you’re not quite game to meet face to face early on, you could write a friendly note with your name and number to pop into their letterbox. This way, you’ve laid the foundations for a good relationship from the get go and, if you have to dispute something, it may be easier to come to a resolution.
Easy ways to be a good neighbour
It’s the little things that count, and paying it forward with your neighbours will add up in the long term. It can be as simple as taking your neighbours’ bins in for them on bin day or making sure the footpath in front of your house is tidy. If you share a laundry or washing line, common sense reigns – take your dry washing back to your apartment as soon as you can. This really goes for all shared areas. Apartment-dwellers: keep in mind that not everyone appreciates the common hallways being used as extra storage space. And, above all, be noise-aware – the vacuuming can probably wait until after 9am.
How to settle disputes with your neighbour
This is where that cup of coffee or friendly chat over the fence comes in handy. The first port of call for all issues around bordering properties should begin with a calm conversation. We all know how quickly a text message can be totally blown out of proportion due to a poorly placed exclamation mark. Whether you’re making a complaint about a barking dog or taking issue with a new fence being built, be sure you get the full story in person before taking any other steps. With any luck, you’ll be able to sort out the problem without needing to escalate the issue. Because once you take things up a notch, it can get nasty very quickly. People have sold and moved homes due to neighbour disputes. Worse still, you can risk losing a lot of money in land and environment court so, a word to the wise, stay calm and talk it out. It’s always better to hash it out and keep things cordial.
Common questions asked by neighbours:
Can I cut branches from my neighbour’s tree if they overhang my property?
No. You won’t know if your neighbour has already consulted with council on the removal of the tree. Some councils can be very strict with advice on trimming branches, so you may receive a fine for cutting branches.
What should I do if I have a noise complaint?
If a property owner does not abide by local noise restrictions, they can be fined. Each state or territory has different restrictions in place, and you are well within your rights to call the police if the playlist has been pumping way past your bedtime. Again, it’s best to talk about the issue first, but if this is a continuous problem, you’ll want to nip it in the bud.
Who pays for fences?
Fences are one of those things that can be big obstacles in neighbours’ relationships. When fences sit on property boundary lines, the cost of any repairs or new builds should be shared by the neighbours. If you can’t agree on the style or cost of the fence, you may need to attend a mediation session with an impartial party or seek advice from your lawyer.