Nothing ruins your dream home like the nightmare of bad neighbors. When new neighbors move in, you can never be sure what you’re going to get. They could be all-night partiers or call the police with noise complaints about your kids’ birthday party. There are a few red flags you can watch for that will give you an idea of whether your new neighbor will be your BFF or drive you insane.
Neighbor red flags
Neighbors who ask too many personal questions can be a pain in the rear, but it can also create a lot of tension if they’re all up in your business. Be wary of over-sharing with nosy neighbors.
They constantly wash the street
Some neighbors are really high-maintenance. You’ll know you have a high-maintenance neighbor if their front yard looks like a perfectly manicured golf course. This means they’ll often expect the same level of attention from you or complain that you haven’t washed your car in a week.
High-powered yard lighting
If it lights up the whole block, it can be an invasion of privacy. If you’re not living in a crime-ridden area, floodlights can rob you of your privacy and give the neighbors a clear view of what you’re doing all the time.
There are no cars in sight, ever
If your new neighbor sees the garage as a parking space only, while you use yours for a garage band, you might not see eye to eye. Neighbors can easily take offense to your car always being parked on the driveway and make you feel trapped into giving up your space.
They never mow the lawn, or they mow it three times a week
Most of us fall somewhere in the middle when it comes to yard maintenance. It gets cut fairly regularly, with odd occasions where it’s too long. Then there are the neighbors that fall to the extremes. The ones who never cut their lawn because they’re growing a hayfield, and the ones who want their lawn to look like a golf course. For your maintenance-obsessed neighbor, your kids, dog, and guests will be a nuisance, especially if they run on their grass. On the flip side, unmaintained yards can attract vermin and unwanted pests.
What neighbor red flags mean (and what to do)
If you find your new neighbor is raising some flags, what to do about it will depend on which flags they raise and what type of neighbor you have. Bad neighbors can fall into three categories. The solution for your woes is dependent on which one they’re in.
These are the neighbors who don’t take care of their yard. They don’t mow the lawn, they don’t pick up dog poop, and there’s a rusty car in the driveway.
What to do: Communicate. Sometimes things aren’t as they seem. While we’re quick to think that someone’s house is neglected because they’re drug dealers or gang members, often it’s a senior who can’t mow the grass or someone undergoing cancer treatment. Get all the information, and don’t be too quick to judge.
Some neighbors will leave you feeling downright unsafe. Maybe there’s a lot of yelling. Maybe they have pet snakes. Maybe you’ve just got a feeling they’re up to no good.
What to do: If you aren’t 100% sure whether to report your neighbor, you can conduct a background check. This will give you any public information about past criminal activity. It will also give you what you need to ask your homeowner’s association to step in. Call the police if there is a threat or a law that’s clearly being broken.
Some people have no boundaries. Your neighbor is constantly asking questions over the fence and has installed high-powered flood lighting that lights up your whole house. They stop in whenever they want and expect to be welcomed.
What to do: Most of the time, people aren’t aware of the intrusiveness of their behavior. Alerting them to the boundaries they’re violating can tame the situation. Sometimes hints don’t work; taking a direct approach is often the best way to solve it.
In the end, you have no control over who moves in next door. Hopefully, the tips in this article will help you spot signs that your neighbor might cause you problems and to help fix the problem before it’s too late.