Of­fer neigh­bours help not judg­ment

The Leader (Tasman) - - GARDENING -

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 Neigh­bourly is a NZ-owned so­cial me­dia site cre­at­ing easy ways for neigh­bours to talk and con­nect. Join us at neigh­bourly.co.nz or down­load our new iPhone and An­droid apps.

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.

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