5 Things you should never ask your neighbour
There’s an old Dutch proverb that says “It’s better to be a good neighbour than a distant friend” and we can’t argue with that. If you’re living in a major Canadian city, like Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto or Vancouver, chances are you’re living in an apartment building with built-in neighbours, or living in an apartment in your landlord’s house. However, barely 50% of Canadians know their neighbours and 37% admit they don’t know how to initiate the relationship in the first place.
Obviously, the easiest way to get to know a neighbour is to simply knock on their door and introduce yourself or making the effort to say “hi” when your paths cross. Once you’ve made that connection, maintaining an amicable relationship is an art and there are a few things you should never do if you want to keep that connection a positive one over time.
Here’s a few of our top tips:
- “Can I use your wifi?” Maybe you’re new to the building and your wifi has yet to be connected. We get how stressful it can be without Netflix and Spotify, but your neighbour is investing their hard earned dollars to pay for their internet, and they aren’t paying for it so they can have their neighbours leech off it. If they offer, that’s great! If they don’t, don’t put it out there, because your online habits may seem normal to you, but it can ultimately put a strain on their download speeds and your relationship.
- “How much are you paying?” Avoid putting people on the spot for something that is really private information. The question has the potential to cause friction, not only between the both of you, but with their landlord (or vice versa). That figure should only be disclosed between the tenant and landlord and no one else. If you really must know, then you can always google it and see what pops up.
- “Can you please not/keep it down/stop doing?” If you live in an apartment building there are going to be communal areas – but it isn’t your job to police them. If a neighbour has children and they are playing in the halls and making a ruckus or it’s late and they are playing music really loud – it may be tempting, but avoid reaching out to your neighbour directly or leaving them passive aggressive notes. It may sound controversial, but there are ways to resolve this without creating tension between the two of you. Many property management groups will advise to notify them of any activities that are impacting your satisfaction in your home. They will handle complaints on your behalf and act as an intermediary to resolve problems. If you live in your landlord’s home or you have a concierge, speak to them and allow them to step in.
- “Can I look inside?” Avoid any requests that may make your neighbour feel vulnerable to a judgement. You may be curious to see how they designed the space – but it is their private residence and they should always be in control of who they invite in. Allow your neighbour to invite you in on their own accord. When you pop by they could also be in the middle of something and you really don’t want to kick off your friendship by imposing on your neighbour.
- Constantly asking to borrow things. Once in a while, asking to borrow that cup of sugar isn’t a big deal, but if you’re constantly popping up on your neighbour’s doorstep asking to borrow their vacuum, or if you can have a lightbulb because you’re out etc. etc. etc. then you need to stop. Your neighbour is not a substitute for a trip to the store, and constantly asking for items shows you don’t respect the expense, effort or time that goes into maintaining their household. Again, once in a while is fine, but if it’s a regular occurrence it has a high potential to cause friction between the two of you.
BONUS: If your neighbour does offer you their wifi, said they are happy to lend you anything in their home, and always comes through with the sugar, acknowledge their kindness by treating them to a coffee, replacing the item they advanced you or simply returning the item with a thank you note! Small gestures have big meaning.
The art of building a positive relationship with your neighbour hinges on basic etiquette. Avoid questions that may leave someone else feeling vulnerable, uncomfortable or used. These people could end up being among your closest friends. So honour the relationship in a way that shows you value their privacy and space. By following these tips, you could be the one that ups that national average from 50% of Canadians who don’t know their neighbours to 100% – or at the very least, a little closer to it!
If you have any other tips, share them with us by emailing us your top tip on how to get along with your neighbour. We would love to hear them.
And, don’t forget, if you have an eye on a new rental property and you want to up your chances of being the new perfect neighbour in the building, why not check out LOCNEST’s pre-approvals application here. It’s a quick and easy process that will show your future landlord that you are not only a responsible and credible future tenant – but potentially a great addition to the building’s community.