Community living is a constant in life. Whether you live in a dorm, a single-family home, a condo, a row home, an apartment, a tent, or a trailer: community is involved. Neighbors: they are always right next to you.
During the Holiday season they can really seem right up on top of you. Neighbors seem to grow in size with family visiting and parties on the schedule. These “extra neighbors or noises” can really strain neighbor relations.
Everyone has a bad neighbor story, just look at the following clip (click here ), but in reality, about 86 percent of people like their neighbors. Good neighbors provide benefits. They:
Positively impact mental health
Knowing your neighbors can impact your mental health in positive ways. Knowing your neighbor means that you will have someone close by in a time of need. If you get locked out, need someone to bring in your mail, or even if you just need to borrow a cup of milk or an egg, your neighbor is right next door.
Neighbors provide an extra set of eyes. “Even the devil’s eye can’t be as sharp as the neighbor’s,” said Heinrich Boll. They can report suspicious activity, enter in case of an emergency (ex. Turn off the stove if you forgot), and even sometimes help you locate your wandering child, (My three-year old once walked out the front door when I was out back. It was only due to the watchful eye of a neighbor that I knew where she went.).
Provide social opportunities and networking
In communities, neighbors plan social events like Memorial Day Cookouts, Halloween Trick-o-Treating, and neighborhood clean ups. These events are opportunities to meet new people as well as learn about local events and businesses. In our neighborhood, we have an HVAC guy who lives right across the street and a tree trimmer right behind us. Needless to say, they have both helped us out in our time of need.
With neighborhoods packed with holiday visitors it is particularly important to be considerate. Visitors and parties mean less parking for those who live in the community and more noise and traffic. Maintaining a good relationship with the neighbors can really go a long way in securing the benefit of the doubt and letting things slide more than they would if you have a poor relationship with them.
The question is, then: how can we live well with them?
Homeowners Associations and community standards can pave the road to easy living and good neighbor relationships. An HOA is more than the annoying letter detailing how the rules have been broken. HOA’s help:
Plan and maintain public spaces
The pool that we all love, the park that our kids play at, and the space that we
park in are all planned and maintained by the HOA.
Insure that people can live well together
HOA’s are run by the people of the community. They have come together and decided on rules and procedures to help people get along. They have noted that people don’t like to step in dog poo, so they have spaces designated for dog walking. They have noted that people like to wash their cars, so they provide specific areas and resources dedicated to that activity. They have noted that people like to park close to home and have created parking permits to allocate spots near dwellings. They have also noted that people sometimes bother other people, and they have provided procedures to handle those grievances.
The HOA is our pathway to easy street. Our only responsibility is to be a good neighbor. We can do that by:
Knowing and following the HOA rules
Provision Property Management provides all appropriate HOA rules to tenants in their move-in packet (parking and swimming pool passes). They also help facilitate communication between the tenant and the HOA.
A great way to start building neighborly relations is to take time to introduce yourself to new neighbors. Some people ease this introduction with fresh baked cookies or picked flowers from the yard. I am not big on knocking on doors, but if I see a new neighbor, I make an effort to introduce myself and let them know I am here to help.
Keeping noise at an appropriate level
Did you know that Maryland has a noise ordinance that governs the level of appropriate sound for the given day and activity? According to the state of Maryland, noise must be below 55 decibels from 10pm-7am and under 65 decibels from 7 am-10pm in a residential area. Each County has also set its own limits within the Maryland State parameter. Here are a couple of them:
- Anne Arundel County: between the hours of 10pm and 7am, any sound that generates a noise that can be heard 50 feet away in a residential district can receive a 500-dollar fine or up to 30 days in jail
- Baltimore City: between the hours of 9pm and 7am, noise at or below 50 decibels is acceptable
But it isn’t just the decibel level that good neighbors need to attend to. It is considered common courtesy to avoid noisy projects past 8 (i.e. hammering on a common wall in an apartment building), mow the lawn, or blow leaves after most of the neighborhood seems to be stirring, and to be aware of the proximity of your outside seating area and your neighbors bedroom. It might not be ideal to overhear late night conversations while trying to sleep.
Keep pets off the neighbor’s lawn
Pets do need to go to the bathroom, but it is best if they do that in an open space. Some communities provide bags to clean up after pets.
Maintain the community standard of curb appeal
Every community is different in this arena. It is important to notice the standard of lawn care and home maintenance in a neighborhood. In some neighborhoods, it is fine to park an RV in a driveway and in other neighborhoods it is a no no. Children’s bikes and toys can adorn a front lawn in some neighborhoods but in others it is frowned upon. Just take a look around, see what you observe about community standards, and try to find a place within them.
Following community standards and making an effort to be a respectful neighbor means you will likely reap all the benefits of community. In times, like these (Covid, monkeypox, and high inflation) we need our neighbors. It takes a village, so be kind and carry on.
Anne Arundel County. Noise Control Accessed: 5 August 2022
Baltimore County Title 9 Noise Regulation Accessed: 5 August 2022
Fathom Realty The Vast Majority of Americans like their Neighbors, Survey Says. 27 April 2022.
Goodwin, Colleen. The Benefits of Living in a Neighborhood with a Home Owners Association, 27 March, 2016.
Mayne, Debbie. The Best Tips for Being a Good Neighbor. May 8, 2022
Mickelson, Steph. May 28, 2021. What is the Purpose of Neighborhood Associations and Can They Really Add Value to My Community?
Roorda, Larry The Benefits to Belonging to a Neighborhood