Nosy neighbors may not be breaking any laws, but their behavior can diminish your quality of life. Unlike other “neighbors from hell,” nosy neighbors may live quietly. But, in their own way, they engender a negative environment, when you find yourself subjected to their scrutiny.
Understanding Why Neighbors Pry
Nosy neighbors always seem to know everyone’s business. They can, and will, tell you about everyone who lives in their immediate vicinity. Sometimes, they find you particularly interesting, and devote their time to spying on your activities. Should you become their unfortunate target, you’ll probably consider their attention unwelcome.
Bad neighbors pry into your life for a variety of reasons. Curiosity is one reason; lack of an interesting, productive life is another. In some cases, they may be more interested in your life than their own because they think you’ve wronged them in some way, and they’re looking for “evidence” to report you to the landlord.
Identifying a Nosy Neighbor
Spying, on the part of neighbors, can take different forms. They might watch your apartment to see when you come and go, who you’re with, and who visits you. If you live in a ground-floor apartment, they may even resort to peering into your windows to see what you’re doing.
Other forms of nosiness concern your mail and deliveries. Apartment buildings with broken locks on the mailboxes or bins below the mailboxes, for magazines and catalogs, can become targets of snooping. An unlocked mailbox can lure a nosy neighbor into rifling through your mail to see who you do business with. They may identify credit cards, bank accounts, insurance agents and even individuals who send you letters. By looking through your magazines and catalogs they paint a picture (often inaccurate) of what kind of person you are.
Deliveries provide another source of information for nosy neighbors. Packages, left in the open, provide information about where you shop and what kind of items you buy. A furniture store, clothing shop or computer company’s name on the label provides clues to your interests and purchasing habits. Occasionally, shipping labels list the contents of the package, taking all of the guesswork out of spying.
Countering Nosy Neighbors
Unfortunately, when confronted with a nosy neighbor, not everything is within your control. You can’t stop living your life, so preventing them from watching your door to see when you and your visitors come and go is nearly impossible. However, you can avoid hanging around your door, or conversing with the door open, to prevent them from listening in on your conversations.
To keep your mail private, ensure that your mailbox is always locked, with a lock in good working order. Pick up your mail promptly to prevent easy access to your magazines and catalogs. Where deliveries are concerned, ask a trusted neighbor to retrieve your packages and hold them until you return home. With a few commonsense practices, you can reduce the amount of information a nosy neighbor can dig up on you, and thereby discourage their prying habits.
Lisa Bernstein: As a long-time apartment dweller and seasoned condominium trustee, I have dealt with numerous landlord-tenant, property management, and day-to-day apartment complex issues. My extensive, direct experience has led to invaluable insights into apartment life from both the tenant and management perspectives.