Many people remember that the poet Robert Frost wrote the line “Good fences make good neighbours,” and frequently quote him. Often, they fail to understand that he was arguing against that statement.
Whether fences help or not, there is a lot more to having good neighbors, or being a good neighbor, than that.
A Homeowners’ association (HOA), such as the one that governs Stephens Grove, is all about creating a community of good neighbors. Doing so, in a community of more than 300 homes, can be complicated. But we’ve found from experience that there’s one simple idea that is often the best place to start:
Talking to each other.
On another blog, we found a helpful article headlined “6 Easy Steps To Solving Neighbor Disputes Without Your HOA.” And the very first of those six easy steps is this: “Talk to your neighbor.” The article continues:
Sometimes people aren’t aware that they’re doing something to bother you. A good first step is to schedule a face-to-face meeting to tell them about your concerns. If you can talk it out, you’re good to go for the future. Here are a few tips:
- Assume the other person is unaware of the problem, or be open and pleasant when discussing it.
- Use problem-solving phrases, such as “How do you suggest we approach this?” or “I think I have a solution.”
- Don’t leave the door open. Try to solve the dispute as quickly and calmly as possible, so no one can overthink the situation.
- Avoid discussing this with other homeowners unless you strongly believe that they have an issue, too.
That’s good advice. And you’ll find that on our neighborhood website, we suggest talking as a good place to start.
For instance, if a barking dog on your block is being a nuisance, we advise, “First and foremost, consider talking to your neighbor about it.” It may also help with a neighbor you see driving too fast in your neighborhood.
Obviously, talking is not always the answer. Sometimes the neighbor isn’t interested in talking. In rare cases – such as when a speeding neighbor is inebriated or acting erratically – it may not even be safe. Use common sense. Sometimes, the thing to do is call the police.
Other times – such as when you and a neighbor can’t seem to agree regarding a modification to his or your property – you should take the issue to the HOA Board of Directors, or the Architectural Review Committee. That’s what those bodies are for, and one of the main reasons for having an HOA to begin with.
But often, talking with the neighbor is the best place to start. Sometimes, you might find that’s all you needed to do to solve the problem. It may even be the start of a great friendship.