Neighbor Problems

Living in Community
A building or neighborhood is a community and just like any other community, be it a family, workplace, social club, or place of worship, it can be difficult to live and work with other people. Above all, be respectful. If our neighbors are being disrespectful, it does not give us the right to be disrespectful back. We need to work with each other to create a place where we can all live. Sometimes that means not engaging with people that we know are going to upset us. Sometimes it means reporting our neighbors for their actions. But we still all need to live with each other. Creating peace is hard work! But it is worth it.

Legal Obligations to Our Neighbors
Our neighbors are bound by the same rules that we are. They need to follow all local laws, including noise ordinances, disturbance statutes, and any other provisions that govern how we interact. In Vermont state law, see: (V.S.A., TITLE 13, Chapter 13)
Tenants and their guests must also conduct themselves in a manner that will not disturb other tenants’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises. In Vermont state law, see: (V.S.A., TITLE 9, Chapter 137, § 4456)
We also have a responsibility to care for our home in such a way that it does not create a health hazard for any of our neighbors. In Vermont state law, see: (Vermont Rental Housing Health Code, 12.2.2)

When There is a Dispute
Conflict can be unavoidable, and the important thing to remember is that we need to be respectful and professional. If we are comfortable, we can speak to our neighbors when an issue arises. If we wait until we are angry, the conversation may not go the way we want, so it is important to address issues as they arise. If a peaceful resolution cannot be reached we may need to bring in a third party to help resolve the issue. This may mean asking the landlord to step in, finding a mediator or neutral third party, or, in cases where laws are being broken, even alerting the police. There are times when conflicts arise and both parties are seen as the problem, so it is often preferable to try and handle conflicts ourselves if possible. But we all have a right to be comfortable and healthy, so if there is an issue, we should address it.

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