June 18, 2013

Love Thy Neighbor? Four in Ten Americans Have Had a Neighbor Dispute, Says New FindLaw.com Survey

Vast majority of disputes successfully resolved without court action

EAGAN, Minn. –  Getting along with neighbors isn’t always easy. Forty-two percent of Americans say they have had a dispute with a neighbor, according to a new survey by FindLaw.com, the most popular legal information website. Conversely, the survey found that the majority of people surveyed – 58 percent – say that they have never had a dispute with a neighbor.

Noise was the most common complaint between neighbors, accounting for nearly half of all disputes.  

The most common neighbor disputes, according to the survey, involve the following issues*:

  • Noise 48%
  • Pets and animals 29%
  • Children behavior 21%
  • Visual nuisance, property appearance, trash, etc. 18%
  • Property boundaries 17%
  • Suspected criminal behavior 8%
  • Health or building code violations 4%
  • Parking 1%

When neighbor vs. neighbor conflicts arose, most people report that they took steps to try and address the situation. Eighty-six percent of people who had disputes said they took some kind of action, usually in the form of discussing the issue directly with the neighbor or sending them a note or email. Others elected to notify the appropriate authorities, such as the police or a neighborhood association. Only fourteen percent of people with a dispute took no action at all.* 

  • Discussed issue personally with neighbor 49%
  • Called police 27%
  • Notified neighborhood or owners association 15%
  • Sent letter, note or email 11%
  • Went to court 4%
  • Went to mediation 4%
  • Other action 4%
  • Took no action 14%

In the vast majority of neighbor disputes – eighty-two percent – people said that the issue was eventually resolved to their satisfaction.*

  • Mutually settled 40%
  • (no outside or third-party intervention)
  • Matter resolved itself 35%
    (neighbor moved, behavior stopped, etc.)
  • Outside party solved 11%
    (police, court, association, etc.)
  • Matter still unresolved 14%

An additional five percent of respondents said that while an outside party (police, courts, association, etc.) settled the matter, they were not happy with the outcome.

“Neighborhoods form dynamic communities with unique personalities, since a group of unrelated people must live close together,” said Stephanie Rahlfs, an attorney and editor with FindLaw.com. “Most often, neighbors are friendly, but occasionally, disputes will arise over issues such as boundaries or excessive noise. Our survey found that most issues between neighbors are satisfactorily settled without the matter turning into a legal dispute. It’s important for people to know what their rights are on issues such as boundaries, nuisances, animals and so on, as well as what legal and other resources are available that could help them.”

Free, helpful information on neighbor disputes, including what steps to take when disputes arise, can be found online, including at the Neighbors section of FindLaw's Real Estate Center:  http://realestate.findlaw.com/neighbors/  

* - Percentages may add up to more than one hundred percent if more than one dispute

The FindLaw survey was conducted using a demographically balanced survey of 1,000 American adults and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percent.

Note to editors: Full survey results and analysis are available upon request.


FindLaw, part of Thomson Reuters, is a leading provider of business development solutions for small law firms. Through its team of legal marketing experts, FindLaw drives the industry by delivering a comprehensive portfolio of proven online and offline marketing solutions designed to connect law firms with targeted prospective clients. FindLaw is also home to the largest online directory of lawyers and FindLaw.com (www.FindLaw.com), the most popular legal website with more than five million people visiting each month for free information about a legal topic, to solve a legal problem or to find a lawyer.

Thomson Reuters

Thomson Reuters is the world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals.  We combine industry expertise with innovative technology to deliver critical information to leading decision makers in the financial, legal, tax and accounting, healthcare and science and media markets, powered by the world's most trusted news organization.  With headquarters in New York and major operations in London and Eagan, Minnesota, Thomson Reuters employs approximately 60,000 people and operates in over 100 countries.  For more information, go to www.thomsonreuters.com.