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Originally published January 20, 2012 at 8:00 PM | Page modified January 20, 2012 at 9:06 PM

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What you can do about a difficult neighbor

Special to The Seattle Times

You might be a bad neighbor if:

• You own a leaf-blower and like to use it before 8 a.m., even when no leaf is in sight.

• People on Craigslist advertise for you to take their broken items because they know you'll have room in your yard.

• You find yourself moving a baby-grand piano into your small studio-condominium unit.

• It seems like a good idea to ask the new neighbors, who just moved in, for spare change.

• You have more than one inoperable car in your front yard.

• You live in the city and believe that loud farm animals should be kept as pets, especially roosters.

• Strangely, nobody steals anything you leave on your front yard.

— Diana Wurn

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Consider mediation

The King County Dispute Resolution Center offers low-cost services for Seattle residents. Other cities have found mediation successful. The city of Bellevue has created a specialized neighbor-mediation program with more than 70 trained volunteers who provide individualized help for Bellevue residents specifically to resolve neighbor-to-neighbor disputes. They can sometimes even work with larger groups, like condo associations.

Join forces

Others in the neighborhood may be willing to help create a better place for everyone. This can mean an afternoon of volunteering to help clean up a neighbor's overgrown weeds, arranging a trip to the dump or maybe just talking to the neighbor to see if they need help.

Make a formal complaint

Most cities have code-compliance officers who enforce ordinances for issues like noise complaints, dilapidated houses and junk in the yard. Complaints can usually be made and tracked online and can result in fines and penalties. The city of Seattle's online complaint system is at web1.seattle.gov/dpd/complaintform/

Find the landlord

If the problem is the tenants next door, find out who the owner is and let him or her that there is a problem and maybe he or she can help solve it.

Mitigate problems

Invest in whatever will make the problem easier to tolerate: white noise machines, ear plugs, air freshener, extra shrubbery for the backyard or a better fence.

Pitch in

When all else fails, it might be time to pay a neighbor to do something like paint his or her house if it helps improve marketability of the surrounding properties.

Bigger issues

If possible mental-health issues are causing a concern about the safety of a neighbor, or anybody else in the neighborhood, contact the Crisis Line, which is available to all in King County, at 206-461-3222, or the police, for help.

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