Money and Neighbors

by TTMK on November 2, 2013 · 8 comments

When we talk about money and relationships, we often think in terms of people who are married or dating. However, a “relationship” can be more broadly defined to include other regular interactions between people, such as with a coworker, business partner, good friend, etc.  Along those lines, one type of relationship that can come into play is that of people who are neighbors.

It can be a really nice thing to have neighbors that are cool. We live next a couple that’s quite nice, with whom I make small talk every now and then. I’ve had some good neighbors in the past as well, who were quite friendly and pretty cool all around.  I suppose I’ve been fairly lucky, as I can’t recall any real problem people as neighbors of mine.

That being said, when I was growing up, we had one family living near us who were a bit problematic. It wasn’t something I paid a whole lot of attention to at the time, but as we get older, we sometimes think about events from the past and look at them in a different light. In this case, the neighbors had a giant dog that was basically out of control, and caused some damage to my parents’ property.

Now, the people themselves seemed nice enough. Keep in mind this was several decades ago, so this is based on how I viewed them as a kid. However, at one point they bought that dog I mentioned above, and it didn’t seem to share the demeanor of its owners!  Basically, the dog ran wild and tore through landscaping of some adjacent yards. Not at one point in time or one particular day, but regularly thrashed shrubs, dug through grass, etc. There was a flower bed that took a lot of time for my parents to plant, which got destroyed by this dog as well, and actually this part happened in a few days.

An easy answer might be to put up a fence, which my parents eventually did. However, that doesn’t take away from the reality that stuff was destroyed.  Maybe in today’s dollars, it could be a thousand dollars worth of damage, all told? At the very least it would likely be hundreds of dollars, not including the value of time. Maybe more.  It’s kind of hard for me to quantify exactly, but I recall that enough things happened.

I remember how my father handled it. Always the good guy, he never asked the neighbors to compensate him in any way. He just dealt with it, and chalked it up to keeping goodwill with neighbors who were otherwise friendly and nice. He didn’t like it, and I recall him being quite mad about it one day. But he took the high road.

This is what got me thinking: how would I handle such a situation, if it happened today?

I think my father has more wisdom than I do, in general. Having said that, I have thought that if I had a pet that caused damage to someone’s property, I would offer to compensate the other party. Those neighbors never did offer.

So, given that they didn’t offer, I think if it happened to me, I would very nicely bring up with them the costs in terms of time and money. Then, I’d let them decide if they wanted to provide fair compensation.

After all, the interest in keeping neighborly feelings should run both ways, right?

What do you think?

If you had such a situation occur, with a neighbor’s dog causing a fair amount of damage, how would you handle the situation?

Would you say nothing, nicely bring up the inconvenience to them, or flat out ask them to pay?

Have you ever encountered a difficult situation with a neighbor?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

krantcents November 3, 2013 at 12:09 pm

There was a dog in our community that was left outside and constantly barked. At first, we just asked the neighbor to adhere to the community rules, but eventually we had to fine her for the disturbance. There was no physical damage other than disturbing the peace. Although she was not my direct neighbor, I was on the board so I was aware of the issue.

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TTMK November 4, 2013 at 12:27 pm

If those are the rules within the specific community, then it seems fair that people should abide by them. Hopefully they didn’t get offended and think that the rules didn’t apply to their pet 🙂

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SuburbanFinance November 3, 2013 at 9:55 pm

I love animals and I know that they can be difficult sometimes, so I wouldn’t want to make a huge deal out of it to my neighbors, but I would probably mention it at one point and hope that they paid for the costs.

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TTMK November 4, 2013 at 12:23 pm

I suppose this is the cost of having decent relations with neighbors. Ideally we would want awesome neighbors, but sometimes we get the other type.

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Little House November 4, 2013 at 8:39 am

I’m an animal lover, but if the dog was such a nuisance on a daily or weekly basis, I think I’d mention doggie training to them subtly at first, then really hit them hard with, “You gotta train that beast!”

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TTMK November 4, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Little House – that’s a nice approach, and even the 2nd one mentioning the “beast” is probably nicer than how a lot of people would handle it. Tactful!

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thepotatohead November 5, 2013 at 10:46 pm

I’d hope if their dog destroyed a bunch of my landscaping that they would offer to pay for it. If they didn’t however, I’m sure I would just suck it up and pay myself for the damages but then go all passive aggressive on them until I felt my revenge was complete, 3 AM music fest perhaps :p

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TTMK November 6, 2013 at 12:34 pm

LOL, late night music is a nice passive aggressive approach 🙂

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