Thursday, September 5, 2013

Neighbor Disputes...More Common than We Think

As a Realtor and now a board member for a Home Owner Association, I am very aware disputes between neighbors come up now and again.  Yet, I was surprised by survey results noted in Al Clark's Newsletter.

As you read the information, is this your experience?  What have you dealt with?


In a recent survey completed by, over 1000 Americans were asked about any conflicts they had with neighbors. Forty-two percent of those polled said they have had a dispute with a neighbor.

The sources and resolution of the conflict are summarized below

Noise was the most common complaint between neighbors, accounting for nearly half of all disputes.

The most common neighbor disputes, according to the survey, involve the following issues:

    Noise  48%

    Pets and animals 29%

    Children behavior 21%

    Visual nuisance, property appearance, trash, etc.   18%

    Property boundaries  17%

    Suspected criminal behavior 8%

    Health or building code violations 4%

    Parking  1%

When neighbor vs. neighbor conflicts arose, most people report that they took steps to try and address the situation. Eighty-six percent of people who had disputes said they took some kind of action, usually in the form of discussing the issue directly with the neighbor or sending them a note or email. Others elected to notify the appropriate authorities, such as the police or a neighborhood association. Only fourteen percent of people with a dispute took no action at all.

    Discussed issue personally with neighbor 49%

    Called police  27%

    Notified neighborhood or owners association  15%

    Sent letter, note or email  11%

    Went to court  4%

    Went to mediation 4%

    Other action 4%

    Took no action  14%

In the vast majority of neighbor disputes ? eighty-two percent of people said that the issue was eventually resolved to their satisfaction.
    Mutually settled
    (no outside or third-party intervention)   40%

    Matter resolved itself
    (neighbor moved, behavior stopped, etc.)  35%

    Outside party solved
    (police, court, association, etc.)  11%

    Matter still unresolved  14%

An additional five percent of respondents said that while an outside party (police, courts, association, etc.) settled the matter, they were not happy with the outcome.

"Neighborhoods form dynamic communities with unique personalities, since a group of unrelated people must live close together," said Stephanie Rahlfs, an attorney and editor with "Most often, neighbors are friendly, but occasionally, disputes will arise over issues such as boundaries or excessive noise. Our survey found that most issues between neighbors are satisfactorily settled without the matter turning into a legal dispute. It's important for people to know what their rights are on issues such as boundaries, nuisances, animals and so on, as well as what legal and other resources are available that could help them."

Free, helpful information on neighbor disputes, including what steps to take when disputes arise, can be found online, including at the Neighbors section of FindLaw's Real Estate Center:

The FindLaw survey was conducted using a demographically balanced survey of 1,000 American adults and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percent.
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