What should you do if you have a neighbor that constantly complains about almost everything you do? If you find yourself in this situation, there are several steps you can take to alleviate the issue. First and foremost, make sure you familiarize yourself with the zoning laws, HOA restrictions, or apartment building rules where you live. Additionally, you can outsmart your complaining neighbor by asking them what they plan to do about the issue rather than complain.
What to Do if Your Neighbor Complains About Everything
1. Familiarize Yourself With Your Zoning Laws and HOA Restrictions
Whether you live in an apartment or a single-family home, it seems almost everyone deals with a complaining neighbor at some point in their lives. This can become mind-numbing and annoying very quickly, especially if all they seem to do is complain.
If you are the main topic of your neighbor’s complaints, your first step is to make sure you aren’t breaking any rules or regulations. This may be having a pet without a pet lease agreement in an apartment. In HOA neighborhoods, this could be planting the wrong species of tree in your front yard. In non-HOA neighborhoods, this may be digging or building an addition without a permit.
As long as you are staying within the rules set by the authorities where you live, you have nothing serious to worry about.
2. Try to Speak to Them in a Civil Manner
Your next step should be to have a conversation with your neighbor. Try to get to the bottom of their complaining without seeming pushy or rude. As irritating as their constant complaining may be, it’s in your best interest to approach the situation in a mature and civil manner. This way, you don’t give them any additional ammunition in case they complain to higher-ups.
When you approach the situation like an adult, you’re more likely to be treated with respect than if you stooped to your neighbor’s level.
3. Treat Them With Unwavering Kindness
This tip goes hand in hand with the previous one. Beyond a targeted conversation about the issue, speak to them with kindness. If you are the source of their complaints, your kindness will throw them off and may even make them rethink what they’re trying to accomplish.
Additionally, treating them with kindness will look better to any authorities that get involved in the situation.
4. Document Everything for Potential Legal Purposes
Neighbors who complain a lot are also notorious for threatening legal action. If you find yourself in this situation, staying calm is important. You have nothing to worry about as long as you haven’t broken any laws or breached any contract.
With that said, it’s still important to document everything that has to do with the encounter. Any phone calls, texts, emails, or physical confrontations between you and your neighbor need to be available in case you need to go to court.
5. Foster Genuine Relationships With Your Other Neighbors
Neighbors who complain a lot also have a reputation for oversharing with other neighbors. If you find yourself in an altercation with your complaining neighbor, it’s better to have a genuine relationship with your other neighbors. This way, the complaining neighbor will get shut down when they try to talk to others about the situation.
Your genuine relationships with your other neighbors will also create a positive vibe in an area where your complaining neighbor tries to make it toxic. After a little bit of time, you may find that your negative neighbor has either moved out or has stopped the toxicity altogether.
6. Offer Help or Expertise to Alleviate an Issue
When your neighbor comes to you with a complaint, ask them what you can do to make the situation better. If the change is doable, it may just be easier to make that change going forward. However, outlandish requests may require a more in-depth conversation with your neighbor. In this case, you could try to negotiate with them or work with them on a solution, regardless of how irritating it may be.
7. Don’t Try to Retaliate for Any Reason
It can be incredibly tempting to try and retaliate against your negative neighbor. However, doing this will only make the situation worse. In addition, retaliation will also look bad for you if the situation ends up in a courtroom. As frustrating as these situations can be, your best bet to getting your way is to play nice and follow the rules.
Taking the high road also makes you look better to other neighbors and gives the negative neighbor a bad reputation. With that in mind, playing nice is its own form of retaliation.
8. Consider Moving if You Can
While you should never feel forced out of your home by a bad neighbor, sometimes it’s the only way to find peace. If you’re coming up on the end of your lease, or you’ve just about paid off your mortgage, consider finding a new home in an area that has a friendlier atmosphere.
It’s also worth acknowledging that this isn’t a feasible option for everyone. In many cases, money hinders well-liked neighbors from moving somewhere that is better for their mental health.
9. Inquire About Their Plan When Something Negative Happens
While offering your help in alleviating a situation that doesn’t involve you, you should ask them what their plans are after something negative happens. For example, if they’re complaining to you about another neighbor, ask them what they plan to do about it.
Asking them this will either stop them in their tracks or encourage them to take action on the situation rather than just talking about it. Chances are pretty good that nobody has ever actually asked them this, and it will likely cause them to stop and think for a minute.
Nobody likes a negative neighbor, and listening to someone complain 24/7 is enough to make even the sanest person go crazy. That irritation can get even worse if you’re the target for many of the neighbor’s complaints.
When this happens, remember to kill them with kindness and document everything. As long as you’re sticking to the rules, you have nothing to worry about.