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DIPLOMATIC GUIDE TO NEIGHBOUR DISPUTES

You’re immersed in a dream in which you are about to be handed a cheque for R100 million. As the tips of your fingers are about to connect with the fantasy cheque, the shrill sound of a power tool drills into your subconscious and hurtles you back into reality. It’s your neighbour doing yet another DIY project at 2am, and you cannot bare it a moment longer. But, what is there to be done about it?

Your initial response may be to call the cops, but this is not always the quickest and best way to manage these sorts of disruptions. You might first want to try and resolve the issue neighbour-to-neighbour. In many cases, the issue can be easily resolved if both neighbours just have an honest and respectful conversation about the issue – the operative word here being ‘respectful’.

Extinguish your fuse
It is never a good idea to confront a neighbour when you are a loose cannon waiting to explode. If you are unable to cool down during the heat of the moment, then wait until the next day when you are more in control of your temper and are able to have a reasonable conversation with your neighbour. So many disputes continue for longer than necessary simply because a neighbour has allowed their frustration to seep into the interaction which only further fuelled the offending neighbour to continue their bad behaviour out of spite.

Watch your words  
In your best effort not to inadvertently cause your neighbour to want to continue being a nuisance, you should try to approach the matter without using any accusatory terms. Blaming them for causing you discomfort is the wrong way to go about this. Try to phrase it in such a way that offers a solution to the problem, as well as an explanation as to how their behaviour disrupts your life without calling them names or making it their fault. The more understanding and reasonable you seem, the more likely your neighbour will be to helping you resolve the issue.

Set the scene
It is always better to address the issue directly in a casual setting first before resorting to any other measures. Dropping a written note into their mailbox or under their door can often seem more confrontational than a casual conversation in the front garden. If they refuse to talk it out with you, then following up with a written note can help prove that you tried to resolve the situation as best you could before you dragged the authorities into it.

Take the high road
As unpleasant as it may be, dealing with these situations directly is always the best approach. Unfortunately, no matter how diplomatic you might have been, some neighbours can still choose not to respond to your reasonable requests. In these cases, it is best to take it up with your local police station first, and then bring it to court if the problem persists.


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