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Neighborly Advice

Nearly 80 percent of Americans live side-by-side in urban and suburban areas, sometimes separated only by one wall, according to Findlaw.com, an online source of legal information. With so many people living so close to one another, disagreements can easily crop up about everything from excessive noise and pets running loose to unmaintained properties and trespassing. To prevent these conflicts from occurring — and to avoid costly and difficult lawsuits — Findlaw.com provides some helpful tips on how to be a good neighbor.  

 Get acquainted and show courtesy. Learn why your neighbors chose to live in the neighborhood, what they do for a living, even their kids’ names. Establishing a personable and friendly relationship may help diffuse any conflicts that could arise down the road. If you tell them about planned improvements ahead of time, they may be more supportive. And don’t just tell them you a planning a party, invite them.

 Maintain your property. A property that is not well-maintained reflects poorly on the neighborhood. Many neighborhood associations and cities have regulations about property maintenance, and not adhering to these standards can have serious consequences.

 Watch the noise level. Excessive noise, including loud or excessive dog barking, is prohibited in many communities and the police can enforce these laws. Many community associations also designate quiet hours.

 Keep pets under control. Most neighborhoods and parks require pet owners to keep their pet on a leash and to clean up after them. Pet owners can also be held responsible if their pet causes property damage and bites or harms another person. Some communities limit the number of pets an owner may keep. Too many pets can be a violation of a zoning, health code or noise ordinance.

 Respect property lines. Before doing any major improvement, such as landscaping, adding a fence, or adding a room, make sure you comply with local codes and inform neighbors of any work you plan to do. A neighbor also has the right to remove the fence if it poses a danger to those who interact with it.

 If you are unable to resolve differences with neighbors, seek legal advice.

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