For many students, living off-campus comes with a greater sense of independence. However, with this independence comes greater responsibility, and one main responsibility many students often forget is neighbor relations. While it may not seem like the most important thing on your list, fostering poor relationships with your neighbors is the major reason why students receive a knock on the door from the cops. This is why we’ve identified some of the biggest problems students experience with living off-campus in terms of neighbor relations and put together some tips to keep yourself from becoming just another one of those “pesky kids.”
Noise. One of the biggest problems students experience when it comes to living off-campus are noise complaints. Oftentimes students will have a party or just have few friends over and the cops will get called because of the noise. However, this is highly preventable; it is easy to turn down the music, especially after a certain time of night. The general rule of thumb is turn down the volume earlier on Sunday evenings and during the week, and later on Fridays and Saturdays. However, many communities will have noise ordinances so you may want to check on these times for your specific community.
Parking. Another problem students experience with their neighbors is parking. If someone has parked their car blocking your neighbor in, your friends have parked illegally, or there are just too many cars on the street, the cops could get called. You want to make sure that the people you are inviting over are also courteous of your neighbors as you are. When you have your friends over, make sure that they aren’t parked so that they’re blocking your neighbors in and that they aren’t parked on someone else’s property. You may also want to ask your friends to carpool to your house so there won’t be too many cars parked on the street.
Trash/Furniture. One ordinance many neighborhoods have is related to trash and indoor furniture being outside. These ordinances maintain that trash should always be in the bin or dumpster, and that indoor furniture should not be left outside (if it’s left to the elements, it’s basically considered trash anyway). If you have grouchy neighbors, you may be receiving a nice big fine for not complying with these types of ordinances.
Yard Maintenance. In many cases your landlord will take care of yard maintenance. However, if they don’t offer this, you should pitch in to make sure the yard is looking nice. While this also may not be at the top of your list, in many cases your neighborhood will actually have ordinances in relation to overgrowth. Not only could you get slapped with a fine, you could have other problems with letting the plants and grass in your yard get too big. These added problems could be an increase in the population of bugs in and around your house (ewww!), as well as interference with power lines. The best course of action here is to make sure the grass is cut, there aren’t too many weeds, there isn’t any garbage hanging around, and nothing is around the power lines.
Overall, the best way to avoid problems with your neighbors is to introduce yourself when you move in. This is important because . . .
- It puts a face to the new neighbors. By introducing yourself you are setting yourself apart from many of the other student tenants that have gone before you. This reduces the likelihood that your neighbors will lump you together with those tenants, and you can build your own relationship with your neighbors.
- By introducing yourself and letting your neighbors know that they can come talk to you directly if they ever need anything or have a problem, you are saving everyone a lot of grief. You will be less likely to get a knock on your door from the cops and your neighbor will no longer get woken up at 3 am by loud music.
- Your neighbors can be your biggest resource; they know the area because they’ve lived there longer and they can help you out if you ever run into any problems of your own.
By introducing yourself to your neighbors and by heading off any issues before they arise, you will not only have a better off-campus experience, but you will most likely prevent the cops being called. It’s best to maintain a good relationship with your neighbors because it not only saves you all this grief, it is also makes you more independent, and demonstrates that you can be a mature young adult.
Other articles referenced:
Good Neighbor Relations Guide by Liveable Neighborhoods for Kansas City
Good Neighbor Relations Among Students & Community Members by Melissa Emerson