It’s not hard to be a great neigh­bour. Here’s how

Ex­perts’ tips range from shar­ing shop­ping spots to pick­ing up af­ter your pet

Toronto Star - - HOMES & CONDOS - DANIEL BORTZ

To live in a great neigh­bour­hood, and en­joy be­ing part of a tight-knit com­mu­nity, you have to be a good neigh­bour your­self.

Some tips from the ex­perts: Share im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion: A great way to wel­come new neigh­bours is by pro­vid­ing them with a “need-to-know” check­list, says Di­ane Gotts­man, au­thor of Mod­ern Eti­quette for a Bet­ter Life. If you know a great house­keeper, handy­man, dry cleaner, dog walker or lawn­mow­ing ser­vice, give a sheet with their con­tact info to your new neigh­bour. In­clude sug­ges­tions on the best and near­est gro­cery stores, restau­rants and phar­ma­cies. Keep up your curb ap­peal: Just one ugly home in a com­mu­nity can re­duce prop­erty values for the en­tire neigh­bour­hood. “You should be clean­ing up the front of your house as much as pos­si­ble,” says Lizzie Post, co-pres­i­dent at the Emily Post In­sti­tute, a Burling­ton, Vt.-based eti­quette-train­ing busi­ness. Be a re­spon­si­ble pet owner: “Pets can be a big bone of con­tention be­tween neigh­bours, so you need to keep them in check,” eti­quette con­sul­tant Lisa Mirza Grotts says. Start with Pet Eti­quette 101: “When you take your dog for a walk, do not de­posit your dog’s poop bag into some­one else’s trash can,” Gotts­man says. “It sounds ba­sic, but it hap­pens a lot.” Or­ga­nize a ser­vice project: Min­gle and form friend­ships by co-or­di­nat­ing a com­mu­ni­ty­wide project that neigh­bours can par­tic­i­pate in to­gether, sug- gests Elaine Swann, founder of the Swann School of Pro­to­col. For in­stance, help deck out your neigh­bor­hood’s play­ground for Hal­loween. Live near a se­nior ci­ti­zen? As­sem­ble a group of neigh­bours to help hang lights out­side the per­son’s house for the hol­i­days. In­vite your neigh­bours over: Re­cently moved in? In­vite not only your friends, but also neigh­bours. “Let peo­ple know that you’re not ac­cept­ing gifts,” Post says. “This should be sim­ply a so­cial event.” Don’t be the town gos­sip: There’s a dif­fer­ence be­tween “good” gos­sip and “bad” gos­sip. Good gos­sip, for ex­am­ple: If a neigh­bour’s par­ent passes away, com­mu­ni­cate that to other neigh­bours so they can of­fer con­do­lences or at­tend the funeral, Post says. Be a re­spect­ful party host: An as­pect peo­ple over­look when throw­ing a party is mind­ing where their guests park. “The last thing you want is for your guest to block your neigh­bour’s drive­way,” Gotts­man says. Han­dle con­flict judiciousl­y: No mat­ter how friendly you are, you may have dis­agree­ments with neigh­bours. Han­dling these con­flicts with tact is cru­cial.

Gen­er­ally, if you have an is­sue with a neigh­bour, your first line of de­fence should be to try to re­solve the prob­lem with the per­son di­rectly. This should be done face-to-face — not by text mes­sage or email, where mes­sages can get mis­con­strued, Swann says.

If you can’t re­solve the is­sue one-on-one, con­tact your home­owner’s as­so­ci­a­tion.

Han­dle con­flicts with tact and en­sure fam­ily mem­bers pick up af­ter your pet, putting waste bags in your own garbage.

DREAM­STIME PHO­TOS

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