Offer neighbours help not judgment
This is the third in a series of four about the most common disputes between Kiwi neighbours, writes
Regularly mowing your lawns is not a prerequisite to belonging to a neighbourhood – but it does help you make friends. The same goes with keeping your gardens tidy and your rubbish contained. Just like you treat your home like your castle, you expect that others will do the same because when they don’t, the eyesores that are their bags of rotting rubbish, thighhigh lawns or collection of rusting cars can impact the perception of your property.
But if you’re annoyed that your neighbours’ backyard is less maintained and more jungle-like, don’t immediately jump to conclusions. Perhaps they’re unwell or physically unable to maintain their home and garden. They might be struggling with other more important areas of their lives, like work, debt, family issues or mental illness. They might be solo parents who are doing their best at juggling three kids under the age of two. We don’t live there, so we don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors.
First things first, approach your neighbours with a helping hand. If you’re already mowing your lawns, offer to mow theirs at the same time. Taking two recycling bins out to the road or clearing two letterboxes doesn’t take much more effort than simply looking after yours. Encourage your community to do the same too. If someone in your neighbourhood is struggling, banding together to help them speaks so much more than words of judgment.
If your neighbours aren’t house proud and don’t care, but it’s important to you that they do, visit them, leave a letter in their letterbox or send them a message via Neighbourly. Remember, being polite and professional always goes further than bolshie and demanding. If they don’t want to play ball and you want to take the matter further, your next port of call is your local council. Overgrown lawns and piles of trash are breeding grounds for pests and vermin, which could be considered a nuisance under the Health or Resource Management Acts.
If your neighbours’ rubbish keeps finding its way onto your property, it could be simply because it’s not property secured which is an easy fix. If, however, your neighbours refuse to properly secure their rubbish (or worse still, purposely dump it on your property), report it to your local council and take some photos to back up your cause. Councils are responsible for enforcing the Litter Act which makes it an offence to leave litter in a public place or on private land without the consent of its occupier, so if you can prove that your neighbour is responsible for the rubbish on your property, the council can issue a notice, along with a fine if they don’t do anything about it.
We’re not all fortunate enough to live in perfectly harmonious neighbourhoods. But with a little foresight, neighbourliness and willingness to understand where our neighbours are coming from, we can start to create happier and healthier communities together.
If your neighbours’ property looks unkempt, perhaps they’re unwell or physically unable to maintain their home and garden.