Verbally Abusive Neighbour - What to Do?

We bought our first home in a suburbia a little while ago. We later found out our next door neighbour is extremely inconsiderate and also verbally abusive.

Below are some of the issues (there are other problems but I won't detail them here):

Issue 1: Constantly stepping on our lawn

Our neighbour and their entire family have walked over our front yard (unfenced) numerous times. We have politely asked them to stay off our lawn, as we are trying to regrow it but they completely ignored our request.

Examples include:
(a) Their car is parked so close to our boundary, that they can only get out of their car by stepping on our lawn.
(b) They placed a basketball hoop right near our boundary. As a result, their kids' basketball often bounce onto our lawn and our driveway, and they have to step all over our lawn to pick it up.

Issue 2: Rubbish on our lawn

Not long after we moved in, we started noticing our next door neighbour's rubbish (including used tissues and wipes) on our front lawn and driveway as a result of their overflowing garbage bin. Imagine picking up someone else's used tissues in the middle of COVID :S

This lasted for a few months and eventually we had had enough. Spoke to the wife and the issue was fixed.

Issue 3: Verbally abusive

The other night the weather was terrible, very windy and rainy. We heard a loud noise and found out the next day it was the neighbour's basketball hoop that fell onto our lawn and our stone pavement.

My husband went and spoke to them about their fallen basketball hoop, and suggested maybe we should consider building a fence.

The neighbour then went berserk, started yelling, swearing at him and calling my husband stupid and petty. The neighbour did not apologise at all, and continued to make personal attacks (e.g. looking at you apartment owners etc). He even threatened (although claimed to be a joke) that "I will make sure it falls on your house next time" (exact words).

This whole incident has left us very upset and distressed :( We have been very polite and respectful and it's disappointing that this is not reciprocated.

Now… as I am typing this post, their basketball hoop has once again fallen onto our lawn…

Can anyone please give us some advice? Thank you in advance!!

TLDR:

Our neighbour's basketball hoop has fallen onto our lawn and pathway second week in a row. They have a track record of not respecting our boundary.

Last time we spoke to them about this, they became very aggressive and verbally abusive (swearing, yelling and threatened that "I will make sure it falls on your house next time").

What do we do now?

Edit: 100% agree that building a fence is the only solution as our front yard is currently unfenced.

Edit 2: Thank you for everyone's advice. It was a very long-winded post and I really appreciate all of you reading through it and providing constructive feedback.

Comments

  • +67 votes

    Build a wall fence?

    •  

      Any good fencing ideas that don't look ugly?

      • +61 votes

        8 foot anti climb with barb wire on top?

      • +3 votes

        Something like in Abbottabad will do.

      • +2 votes

        2m or higher Colourbond.

        •  

          Where to even find Colourbond higher than 1.8m? I haven't had any luck finding the 2.1m that is advertised by the manufacturers.

          • +1 vote

            @newbo: Alternatively you can get extensions , but if you're building it not extending this seems a bit silly.

            Might need to go straight to a wholesaler and have it special ordered.

            •  

              @knk: I was interested in getting some for a gate is all, Bunnings only had 1.8m and all the other places I've looked at look like they're for tradies to buy.

              • +3 votes

                @newbo: They'll often still be happy to sell to you though.

                For my gates, pergola etc I bought all the steel beams sheets etc from a wholesaler.

                If you're by any chance in Melbourne there's a place in Sunshine that I can give you the details for.

                We ended up ordering 3.3m long sheets for the pergola.

                •  

                  @knk: I'm in SA. Stratco is everywhere. Can I just walk into a Stratco? I'm very sorry for my unknowingness.

                  • +1 vote

                    @newbo: Probably can, otherwise just look for steel suppliers / steel yards and call a couple.

                    Even call a local fencing contractor and ask to buy some, chances are they can't be bothered and will direct you to your nearest supplier.

          •  

            @newbo: You can put sleepers underneath that can look quite nice and raise the height.

        •  

          If it's 2m or higher beware because you may need council approval.

          •  

            @meowsers: Depends on your local council, and the type of fence. Always good to check the regulations before construction begins.

      •  
    • +18 votes

      what's that saying… good fences make good neighbours.

      Firstly, make sure it's actually your land and not the council land.
      Assuming that checks out, I suggest you get a 1.8m (or whatever is the highest you can get) solid brick wall on the boundary, I think they are called a zero lot wall so it sits on the boundary.
      Plus this will mean they won't be parking so close to the wall.

      Obviously, your neighbour won't want to share the cost of the fence, but if you eat the entire bill, you won't have to ask to share the cost as long as it's approved by the council. Most probably a good idea to get a security camera pointed at that wall just in case they decided to 'knock it over' so you can just give that footage to the insurers and let the insurer sort it out.

  • +20 votes

    I feel for you, as your neighbour sounds like an absolute nightmare.

    Start building a strong fence, so they can’t damage it easily and begin growing really high hedges to block them out fully. It won’t happen over night, but may as well get started.

    Not much else legally I think, was going to suggest Bikies.

    • +7 votes

      Thank you for being empathetic and for the pic reference. We've been looking into building a fence, just not sure what type, so that was helpful.

      Though I'm worried that if we grow any form of hedges or plants along the shared boundary, the neighbour is likely to kill them. Previously they have sprayed something on our lawn and killed part of it…

      • +5 votes

        Killing any sort of fast growing hedges/bamboo etc is very difficult once established, I don't think you'll have any trouble.

        •  

          Good luck getting it established with these neighbours.

          And to the OP, you might want to invest in some video surveillance if you suspect foul play by neighbours.

  • +44 votes

    Fence - just pay for it yourself (they clearly won’t contribute). Move on with your life.

    • +32 votes

      I'd send them their half of the bill for diplomatic relations .
      Besides that if council regulation state they have to pay half why let an Idiot off the hook paying their share .

      •  

        They don’t have to pay a thing if they were not consulted on the matter. That includes the type of fencing, colour, and contractor to be used etc.

    • +6 votes

      nope dont give them a free pass. thats the exact type of neighbour i’d fight with in vcat

      • +2 votes

        Maybe at least consult them, but fighting stuff is never fun and will likely inflame the situation.

        • +1 vote

          Maybe at least consult them, but fighting stuff is never fun and will likely inflame the situation.

          Fighting will inflame the situation; but sure will feel good when they pay 1/2 the reasonable cost of fencing. Serve them a fencing act notification; get their $.

          I had to fix the fence with my neighbor as he was just creepy; paying it all out of my pocket would have hurt (I've nearly 1km in total fencing). Make them feel your pain at having to put up a fence.

          •  

            @MorriJ: I’ve never had much success with vengeance and justice. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not necessarily against it - I just end up feeling guilty and awkward. So whatever works for OP - but yes a fence is in order no matter who pays for it.

    • +2 votes

      Still need to go through the Fences Act, if a fence has not been there before. (between neighbours).
      https://lawhandbook.sa.gov.au/ch31s02.php
      https://lsc.sa.gov.au/resources/FencesandtheLawBooklet.pdf

  •  

    If you have to build a fence that’s wholly within your property title that also may be easier…

    •  

      This is exactly what we planned to do

      • +25 votes

        It's not a good idea. People have claimed partial ownership in such cases, and won, and it even led to the neighbour taking that extra patch of land.

        I'd say build it right in the middle. Get something that does the job (ie No Maintenance, decent privacy, and stops them from damaging your garden). Pay for all of it. Don't have any expectation of getting it back. But pressure them into paying for it. You might get some money out of it, see it as a bonus.

        The real win would be that the fence does its job, and gives your family some comfort.

        •  

          I might have misunderstood what jjjaaar said above…

          Am I understand you correctly that you are suggesting that we should build the fence along the shared boundary, but on my side of the property? While it'd be nice if they contribute, I doubt that they would and am happy to bear the cost.

          • +13 votes

            @fortunecookie: .
            Yes, build it on the boundary.
            Don't build it on their property or yours.
            Use a good design/material so that they cannot damage it easily.
            Make sure it's tall/protective enough to block them out
            Bear all the costs.
            Don't have any expectations.
            Pressure the neighbour for payment.
            If nothing, just scratch it as the cost of business/tax claim.
            If something donated, treat it as a bonus.

            You do sound a bit pedantic, not taking a shot at you or telling you to change. Stating it as that's even more reason to get this done sooner, so you can sleep well.

            • +1 vote

              @Kangal: The impacts of a 1.8m high fence down the boundary will not be lost on them.

              Materials such as brick, colourbond, etc. will make (yours and theirs) dwellings seem more like jails, which (no offence) may not be what your neighbours want to be reminded of.

              Since such negative effects are best avoided, I'd do a simple timber fence, 1.8m high, lapped and capped. They don't cost much more than a standard paling fence, but are far stronger and last better. There are no gaps either, and are easily repaired. Keep a few left over palings when the contractors finish, so you are ready for any damage. Fixing colorbond panels is much more of a job.

              Making sure of course, that the holes are very well prepared- full depth with concrete all the way down.

              [Note on posts: Steel or aluminium posts are ugly but last longer. But if you use them, you can always put them on their side, unless they pay half. This also has the benefit of making it easy for you to repair, from your side, damage done from their side]

              A lot of people paint fences blue or grey these days, it protects the timber from degradation from rain and sun. And if you paint, it matters not which side the posts go on, or what they are made from.

              Cost isn't that great, I'd expect $4k for a full length budget one, built on the boundary noted by the last survey.

              By law they should pay for half the price of a standard timber fence- not a 1.8m lapped&capped one.

              Cheap and quick way to solve/limit the aggression.

    •  

      I would not recommend this.
      I would suggest a surveyor plus a fencing contractor, this would ensure accuracy and professional result if it is a dividing fence.

  • +50 votes

    It sounds like the neighbours are difficult.
    It also sounds like you are very particular. A fallen basketball hoop is not the end of the world.
    If you can’t afford to live in a country estate, well away from your neighbours, you have to accept that occasionally stuff happens when the neighbours impinge on your space.

    A wind blown tissue or tipped over basketball ring are the kind of things that happen from time to time.

    That said, I think it is fine for you to keep mentioning you don’t like it. Maybe ask them to put the ring on the other side of the yard if they can’t keep it upright?

    • -1 vote

      I don't think we're being particular. They have been very inconsiderate from early on and the basketball hoop is just one example.

      • +1 vote

        I don't think we're being particular.

        And yet you complain about them parking on a public road.

        Reminds me of this Superwog skit https://youtu.be/V1NK1lpEGSk?t=222

        • +9 votes

          Apologies if I didn't explain it clearly. They didn't park on a public road.

          They have a very wide driveway, which is right next to our lawn. They park right where the shared boundary is (between their driveway and our lawn).

          They've parked on their property, which is 100% legal and I don't have an issue with. I guess if we had some hedges over on that side, they wouldn't have parked so close..

          • +1 vote

            @fortunecookie: But you did complain that they stepped onto your unfenced lawn (gasp!).

            As mskeggs said, if you want complete isolation from neighbours go buy acreage somewhere or build a fence. It's not rocket science.

            • +2 votes

              @lunchbox99: Agree with building a fence!

              We're still quite new to owning our own home so we're working on adjusting our mindset (that it's ok for neighbours to constant come on to our property if it's unfenced).

              • +22 votes

                @fortunecookie: Maybe you should relax. Maybe be friendly instead of adversarial. I can imagine how your husbands confrontation went with the neighbour. Never said a word to them, first thing you do say it getting up them for daring to put their foot inside your boundary.

                I strongly suspect you and your husband are the nightmare neighbours.

                It’s very windy in Brisbane today. My neighbours are doings some plant trimming and shit is blowing everywhere. I said to them “look don’t stress if any of that blows over here”. They were thankful, because it will be impossible to prevent. Or I could have been an arsehole and say “none of that better blow over here and if it does I’m chucking it back”. You see the difference? We are good neighbours. Since I’m flexible with them, they don’t complain if I have guests over for a party on the deck. Learn how to live amongst other people.

                • +12 votes

                  @lunchbox99:

                  I strongly suspect you and your husband are the nightmare neighbours.

                  Seconded

                • +1 vote

                  @lunchbox99: Agreed - reading this I felt for the poor neighbours. I had to laugh at the 'personal attack' of calling someone an apartment owner.

                  How frightful!

      • +5 votes

        When we bought and moved into our current house our neighbours robbed us while we were out on my birthday and stole a bunch of stuff including my wallet and car/house keys.

        The next day they threw rocks through our bedroom window, shattering glass all over our bed. Very lucky that our 2 week old wasn't lying there at the time.

        Lots of other junky stuff happened……..I would take a basketball hoop falling over any day. Maybe you can get them some sandbags to help weight it down?

  • +20 votes

    Maybe join in on the basketball game, pretend to be bad at first, then put a litter wager on the game, lose the first few games, then once you have his confidence, offer double or nothing. Then show your true basketball skills, start trash talking neighbour as you win the bet. Just a suggestion.

    • +31 votes

      And as you sink each basket, draw a tissue to wipe your brow, before haphazardly attempting to pocket it. Then the wind will do its job and whisk the tissue into their backyard.

      Ensure that you continue to use an annoying non applicable phrase like "Yeah, house rules team". Say it randomly.

      When the game is over, tell them that the game is all about de-fence.

      • +4 votes

        “Your on my turf now” bam!

        • +4 votes

          White Men Can't Jump
          great movie.

    • +3 votes

      Game….Blouses!

  • +2 votes

    If you are build to build a fence get one with a locked gate, a decent sized mail box and a climb over deterrrent. The neighbours in my street have them. They have a silding parking gate,

  • +20 votes

    (a) Their car is parked so close to our boundary, that they can only get out of their car by stepping on our lawn.
    (b) They placed a basketball hoop right near our boundary. As a result, their kids' basketball often bounce onto our lawn and our driveway, and they have to step on our lawn to pick it up.

    calling my husband stupid and petty

    Well… To be fair, you do sound petty.

    How dare they park on a public street CLOSE to your boundary, thus still on land that is public and not yours…

    Are you sure they are walking on your lawn when they get out of the car or are they on the nature strip which is public land? Rarely if ever does your property go all the way to the edge of the road.

    There is absolutely another side to the story here where you're not as squeaky clean you make yourself out to be.

    • +11 votes

      Yeah op needs to grow up…

    • +3 votes

      It's not parked on public land. See my comment above.

      The issue is not exactly where they park but the fact that they are constantly stepping on our lawn to get out of their car. That patch of grass has died and can't regrow as a result… And they often stand on our front yard (acting as if it's theirs) to clean their boat/ car etc.

      Maybe I shouldn't have expected the neighbours to respect our private space? And again, none of this would have happened if there were hedges in our front yard.

      • -3 votes

        The issue is not exactly where they park but the fact that they are constantly stepping on our lawn to get out of their car.

        Isn't there a council-owned footpath next to the road?

      • +3 votes

        You do realise the postie bike is probably doing more damage to your lawn than your neighbors… also if you build a fence it's not going to stop the basketball from going over it, so you're just going to have to accept that they are kids. There are worse things they could be doing than retrieving their ball from your front lawn. And if you treat them like crap you'll probably be the butt of their jokes as they grow older.

    • +6 votes

      OP said they park next to the boundary of the two properties. Not sure why you're harassing OP who has come here for support

      • +3 votes

        I really appreciate this, but clearly this is not the right place to ask for support when people can't necessarily see the full picture. All good, life goes on :)

        • +1 vote

          start with a simple, low wooden fence (can DIY a bit if you're really keen). you can then buy colorbond panels and nail them onto the wooden fence later to get a really high fence and better privacy. not cheap (you might spend upwards of $7000) but a fence is necessary for you it seems

      • -1 vote

        No one is harassing anyone, take your false accusations elsewhere

  • +6 votes

    good fences make great neighbours

    •  

      The sad part is that that's not what Frost meant. It's the opposite in fact.

  • +5 votes

    My initial sentiment is the same as above. You do sound a little bit over the top. You have close neighbours, so people walking on part of your lawn sounds pretty normal and find it petty to say “don’t walk on my lawn”. In fact that is the type of comments that usually start neighbourhoods conflict.

    In saying that, the neibourgh being abusive is obviously an issue also.

    Build a fence and don’t find yourself excuses by saying you don’t know what type of fence…just look at other houses and you will know what fence to put up…

    By law, you can force the neighbours paying for half the fence by issuing a fencing notice (that is valid in NSW, not sure about SA).

    May also be worth putting up a couple of ring cameras if you are worried about damage.

    •  

      I understand where you are coming from. If there were hedges along our front yard, I'm sure this wouldn't have happened.

      Thanks for the suggestion re ring cameras.

  • +4 votes

    Go up to them and apologise for being petty. Say you want to start over. You realise that you've been getting angry and want to avoid confrentation as you don't want to go the jail again and just want to live in peace.

    Yes I know you believe they are in the wrong though sometimes one side needs to step in to minimise the situation.

  • +1 vote

    Are they renting? Might be a short term issue
    .

    • +1 vote

      They have lived there for more than a decade so unlikely to move in the short term..

      • +4 votes

        If they are renting then it is the owner that would have to pay half for the fence. You wouldn't need to communicate with the neighbour.

        • +1 vote

          When they do inevitably communicate to you, you can tell them about the issues with the tenant

  • +1 vote

    Bikies

    Also sounds like you live in Shalvey or Penrith or Werrington or any of those places with delightful neighbours who park dozens of wrecked cars on the lawn and have overflowing garbage in there yard from the dozens of kids living in their house.

  • +1 vote

    Have you spoken to your other neighbours? Just to get some insight into the verbally abusive neighbour.

    You may also want to get security cameras.

    •  

      Yes we plan to have a chat with our other neighbours about this. Also doing research on security cameras.

      •  

        Also, as you've had some success when you raised the rubbish issue with the wife, you may want to have a chat with her to get a sense of what you are dealing with and how to proceed.

        Good luck!

        •  

          Thanks, I think a fence is the only solution to stop unwanted traffic on our front yard!! Also the neighbour had screamed at us, telling us to never talk to them again, so I'll try to avoid any interactions from now on. Just want to live in peace as there's a lot going on in our lives at the moment..

  • +2 votes

    Keep a basket ball hoop in your boundary, next to the parked car and make sure you practice daily. Problem solved :)

    •  

      Great idea :)

    •  

      Nah, far better to install a pole with a dartboard mounted on the top. Throw darts at it in the only style I know - very badly. Oops, sorry, is that your car?

  • +4 votes

    your neighbours sound like ours!

    just serve them a fencing notice then go to court! only takes 6-12 months to get resolved! and you only have to deal with the neigbour banging on the fence 3-5 times a day for the rest of your life!

    • +4 votes

      probably less of an issue if it's a brick fence ;)

      •  

        i'm looking at serving them another fencing notice now to change it to a brick fence, probably end up in court again haha

  • +2 votes

    As others mentioned, a fence is the way to go. Whether you go through the hassle of getting them to contribute it up to you, but if you opt to pay for it then feel free to make it meet all of your desired specs (i.e as inhibitory to them as possible).

    In the short term, depending on how petty you want to be / how much fun you want to have, try to make things difficult along the boundary line, like piling fertiliser or blood and bone in high mounds where they would normally walk on it, digging ditches in the same area etc. These are the types of neighbours I sometimes relish as subtly poking their (read: the guy's) buttons will likely yield delicious tantrum responses.

  • +8 votes

    Sounds like all your interactions with your neighbour has just been complaints. And what you're complaining about, I don't blame them for calling you petty.

    A bad neighbour can easily make your life hell. Where possible, try and build a friendly relationship with all your neighbours instead. Life is much better that way - especially if you're going to be living there long term.

  • +5 votes

    Sell up and move.

  • +4 votes

    Buy some sandbags to weigh down the base of the basketball hoop. You wouldn't want it to fall and crush your new fence.

    Secondly, move - now you know why the previous owners wanted to sell so bad.

  • +2 votes

    Mod Can You Please Delete This

    I hate this stuff

  •  

    Sit on the porch polishing a 12 gauge shotgun when he comes home from work.

    Note: get gun license first, and then get the gun

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear_Thy_Neighbor

  • +4 votes

    Now… as I am typing this post, their basketball hoop has once again fallen onto our lawn…

    Call 000 .. Get the SES Rescue team out there. i can hear an ant screaming in pain

  • +7 votes

    TLDR. Neighbour sounds like an absolute pest but sounds like you are given to hyperbole and need to develop some resilience.

  • +1 vote

    not sure if it's been mentioned before but…..

    build a fence….

  • +3 votes

    Do they throw wild parties and/or wake you up exceptionally early? Or have visitors drop over at all hours of the night?
    Do they park their car on your nature strip?
    Do they use your bins?
    Do they shout obscenities constantly?
    Do they play vulgar crap music loudly?
    Dogs barking constantly and/or defecating on your lawn?
    Do they have a loud car or motorbike that disrupts your peace?

    Your active complaint is that they have walked on your grass which you have made no attempt to fence off. I'm not sure who can ring up to complain about the wind blowing over a basketball ring; Maybe email the local councillor.

    God forbid you ever get injured or burgled and require their assistance.

    Grass costs $6 a square metre.