10 Ways You’re Annoying the Hell Out of Your Neighbours Without Realising It

10 Ways You’re Annoying the Hell Out of Your Neighbours Without Realising It
Photo: tokar, Shutterstock

Living in a neighbourhood can be a pleasant experience of convivial support, backyard barbecues, and lasting memories. Or it can be a years-long exercise in weakening patience and muted rage. (Or something in between.) To have the best chance of co-existing harmoniously with your street-mates, watch out for these annoying behaviours that will cause your stock with them to nosedive quickly.

Not taking care of your yard

Photo: Tippman98x, Shutterstock Photo: Tippman98x, Shutterstock

You know that feeling of being a stellar roommate: washing your dishes, picking up your shoes, cleaning the toilet — while your cohabitor is an unrepentant slob? Same deal when you take the time to regularly mow, weed, and leaf-blow your lawn, but your neighbour lets his go until it looks like a family of bears live there. If your weeds are as high as your windows and your grass blades could hide a toddler — you’re making the neighbourhood look bad. Do your part.

Leaving your garbage cans out for days

Image: Johnny Habell, Shutterstock Image: Johnny Habell, Shutterstock

Look, few among us are bringing in our garbage cans and recycling bins the moment the truck has emptied them. We all need a grace period in which to drag them back into the garage or side yard from whence they came. And that grace period is one day. Leave them out overnight after the garbage has been collected? OK. We all get distracted. But by nightfall on the second day after pick-up, they should be tucked away on your property once again. You know those suckers can roll half a mile in the wind, right?

Letting your kid play in the street

Image: Money Business Images, Shutterstock Image: Money Business Images, Shutterstock

As a kid who scootered, skateboarded, and played epic Wiffle ball games on our street until my mum called us in for dinner, this one hurts. But some people (who are not children) find this to be annoying, and that is fair. There are the safety implications: If it’s a busy street, it’s a hazard for drivers and preoccupied kids who aren’t paying attention. It also makes sense that someone may not want the end of their driveway to be the regular neighbourhood tween hangout spot. Parents should be aware and set limits around which (if any) streets their kids are allowed to play on (cul-de-sacs, dead-ends, and less-trafficked side streets are fairer game here).

Letting your dog bark all day (and poop in the neighbour’s yard)

Photo: sanjagrujic, Shutterstock Photo: sanjagrujic, Shutterstock

Yes, certain dogs are barkier than others. They can’t help it. But if you’ve got one of those, leaving it outside to bark for several hours of most days from May through September is disturbing for others. (Side note: If it’s 4 years old and still rabidly running up on every other dog, UPS, and FedEx delivery person on the block? Also a problem.)

But, personally, I’m not sure there’s anything more irksome than neighbours allowing their dogs to take hot, messy dumps in my front yard — and then leaving plentiful traces behind. A dog’s gotta do what a dog’s gotta do, but be sure you’re prepared to not only clean it up, but clean it up as thoroughly as one can realistically expect. (Always carry two bags, just in case. Double-dumps happen.)

Parking, parking, parking

Photo: I Wei Huang, Shutterstock Photo: I Wei Huang, Shutterstock

Oh, how parking can enrage one’s neighbours; let me count the ways. Is it how they deposit vehicles on the very end of their driveways, leaving their cars’ rear-ends in the footpath for others to walk around? Or the way — though they have a large driveway and ample garage — they leave an old car parked in the street for months (lo, years!) at a time? Perhaps it is the way they live in a primarily on-street parking neighbourhood, and allow their friends to roll up and usurp their neighbour’s space? Or, is it how they throw parties and A) don’t let their guests know where it’s acceptable to park — and where it’s not or B) let your neighbours know ahead of time. (Hint: It’s all of these.)

Leaving tree debris in the road too long (or too messily)

Photo: William A. Morgan, Shutterstock Photo: William A. Morgan, Shutterstock

Neighbourhoods have periodic yard waste cleanup days. And often it’s hard to time your yard cleanup to perfectly coincide with those days (especially when they only come once once a month or quarter). If you do need to leave large leaf, branch, or tree stump piles roadside for any period of time, be sure they’re well-contained as close to the curb as possible and 62 sharp twigs are not waiting to attack the side of someone’s car (or leg) as they go by.

Also, prune your trees, folks. Don’t let them hang over others’ yards, dripping their sap, seeds, and flowers, or become wildly entangled in wires leading to someone else’s house. If I can’t watch Downton Abbey, you’re getting the bill, Derek.

Being petty about shared responsibilities

Photo: Rainer Fuhrmann, Shutterstock Photo: Rainer Fuhrmann, Shutterstock

Do you and a neighbour share trees or hedges that cross property lines? If so, you may have set up an arrangement to alternate their caretaking. Instead of trimming your side of the edge then half the top of it (because that’s technically “your half”) why not dig deep into those dying embers of brotherly love and trim the whole top, and let your neighbour get it next time? C’mon, man. Be cool.

Holding neighbours hostage while they get the mail

Photo: Koldunova Anna, Shutterstock Photo: Koldunova Anna, Shutterstock

Unlike urban apartment dwelling, where you can live in a building for years without even saying hello to your neighbours (and like it), being a suburban homeowner means a lot more neighborly chitchat. And if you’re friendly-enough (especially if you both have kids), you may enjoy having a genial relationship with them (borrowing sugar is real, y’all). Hell, after the two years of isolation we’ve had, you may even welcome some small talk when you step outside. But cornering your neighbour with serious topics like parental death, illnesses, and family drama when they’re just trying to get their kid’s Old Navy leggings from the mailbox is verboten. I’ve got work to do, Janet. This is a time for pleasantries, not a play-by-play of how your brother found that specialist for your life-changing surgery.

And a few more things…

Photo: Elzbieta Krzysztof, Shutterstock Photo: Elzbieta Krzysztof, Shutterstock

If you’ve made it this far thinking you’re basically the neighbourhood saint, we’re not quite done. Here are our honorably annoying mentions:

  • Using someone else’s backyard as your daily shortcut to the street.
  • Feeding pesky wild animals your neighbours would rather not have hanging around.
  • Smoking too close to building entrances or neighbours’ patios and balconies.
  • Setting off fireworks on any day other than July 4.
  • Playing driveway basketball late at night.
  • Having an old-school car alarm that goes off repeatedly while you’re nowhere to be found.
  • And illuminating the space around you with motion-sensor lights that are way too bright or shine into a neighbour’s window.

Log in to comment on this story!