Dealing With Apartment Neighbors

Apartment dwelling puts you in close proximity with the people on the other side of your walls. The Rental Girl offers tips for living with neighbors.

After trudging through every online listing source, tapping each and every Facebook friend in your current city, and even having Aunt Rhonda make calls from Mississippi for must-see condos 1,500 miles away, you have finally found your dream home: a place where you can live in harmony, where sunlight splashes across your parquet floor, birds chirp outside your bedroom window and the guy upstairs routinely wakes you up at 3 a.m. by making noise and going into a tirade of obscenities — wait a minute. Hold the phone. This was not the scenario you had in mind when you took in the exquisite crown moldings and leaded windows, and promised to love and cherish your home for 12 long months.

For most of us, this scenario is an extreme one. But it goes without saying that a nasty neighbor can ruin what otherwise might be true domestic bliss.

What to do? Ignore the problem, and wait until it's evicted. That's one way to go. Knock on his door in your pajamas and ask him to be quiet. I know someone who did that, and yes, the crazed neighbor apologized and said he'd keep it down. But unless you have a charming Southern drawl and dimples to boot like that tenant did, you might want to consider alternative solutions.

For the neighbor who leaves Fido's presents lying in the yard after the precious pooch does his business, or for the guy who is leaving his cigarette butts on your doorstep, there are some proactive remedies:

  • Have a friendly chat. A good ol' face-to-face conversation, in daylight hours, would be my first approach. If they're a new neighbor, maybe they don't yet know the rules. Muster up some humility, knock on the door and ask if they have a minute to chat. Sometimes a little civility is all it takes. And if you're shy about reaching out about what's bugging you, bring along a plate of cookies.
  • Don't put it in writing. What about leaving a note, you might ask. Not the best way to go. A lot can be misinterpreted in a text, an email or a well-intentioned note tacked to the door. "Stop letting your dog poop in the yard," can be translated as threatening or passive-aggressive behavior.
  • Get the landlord involved. When addressing negative issues, try coming from a positive place. Find common ground. Then, if the problem can't be resolved amicably and you find yourself sparring back and forth from one balcony to the next, you know it's time to tattle to the landlord. But, be careful. Instead of getting caught in a maelstrom of drama, stick to the facts and keep it simple. Explain your discomfort, perhaps reverting back to the lease if necessary. Does it say, "no smoking in common areas"? Well, that includes your front doorstep, right? Say so, and reiterate that your desire is to get along with your neighbors, lest your landlord think you might be part of the problem. Just like there's nothing worse than a nosy neighbor, there's nothing worse than a persistently complaining tenant.
  • When all else fails, consider moving on. In some cases, where you just plain do not like the dwellers next door and you're spending time at the neighborhood library to avoid interaction with the loathsome lot, well, it might be time to look for a building that's a little more you. Next time, maybe do a little more digging before taking the big plunge.

The Rental Girl is a boutique rental agency with neighborhood branches throughout Los Angeles. Each branch is operated by a unique rental agent and provides free apartment and home rental listings. Get more expert tips on renting a home at The Rental Girl Blog.

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Tips
Neighbors
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