Golden Rules for Neighbours
When new neighbours move in, be quick to make friends. Pop round with a friendly smile, a cup of tea, and offers of help and advice.
Once you have made friends with your neighbours you can enjoy countless, reciprocal benefits. You can give them keys for when you get locked out, ask them to pop in and feed the cat if you're away, they'll know how to turn off the burglar alarm that mistakenly goes off when you've just left for your three-week holiday, they'll take delivery of parcels for you.
Always remember that neighbourliness is a mutually beneficial phenomenon. The favours you receive from your neighbours must be returned - that's the deal.
Encourage your children all make friends; you can offload yours onto them for hours at a time, and vice versa. Of course, these arrangements are reciprocal, and you must be prepared to do the same for them. But just by enlisting them as friends, no matter how artificially, you will have joined the local community.
If you have elderly neighbours, be very aware of them during the winter months. If the weather turns cold and icy, offer to help with shopping, or taking the rubbish out. Keep in regular contact to make sure that they are safe - falls are a common occurrence in icy weather, and you would not want a neighbour to be lying alone, unable to call for assistance.
Be aware of the impact that your behaviour has on neighbours. Park sensibly, ensure that bin bags are safely contained within rubbish bins and keep your street frontage neat and tidy.
Keep shared boundaries - hedges, fences, walls - well maintained.
Keep an eye on your garden, and be aware that prolific growth can have an impact on neighbours. Ensure that trees are kept well pruned and never impinge on next-door gardens or steal their light.
Keep an eye on children when they're playing in the garden. Of course, most neighbours should tolerate the sound of children playing on a warm summer's evenings, but if your kids are fighting a pitched battle - complete with bloodcurdling shrieks and water cannon - you might have to tell them to calm down.
Always warn neighbours if you are entertaining and there is likely to be noise and disruption. If you get on well enough with them, it's a good idea to invite them to big parties and al fresco events.
If you are having work done on your house, go round and tell the neighbours beforehand. Builder's lorries, scaffolding and skips will cause real dismay if they suddenly appear without warning.
If there are problems with the usual neighbour trigger points - noise, parking, rubbish disposal - try your best to negotiate the difficulties amicably and resist outright confrontation.
Avoid litigation, if at all possible; once down the route of noise abatement orders and so on, you will always be nervous around your neighbours.