Crazy Neighbor Harassment and How to Deal With It
Everyone wants their neighborhood to be a pleasant place where everyone gets along, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. Sometimes you end up with either a crazy neighbor or one who harasses you in another way, like leaving their dogs barking outside all night or claiming part of your property is theirs. When you have problems like that, they can be very stressful, even scary, to deal with.
I am not a lawyer and cannot give legal advice, but I have been dealing with a crazy neighbor from hell and have some experience in dealing with some of the choices you have to make along the way in these situations. Using my situation, I’ll go over some of the ways you can try to handle a situation when you feel harassed or endangered in your own neighborhood.
For an example, here is a brief description of what we have gone through. We have a set of neighbors with three kids, the youngest a boy in middle school with one of my children. This boy had already been banned from our house a couple of years ago for theft and attempting to pay our younger daughter to expose herself.
I was approached on my property by his guardian, who proceeded to scream and tell me my child and his friend were being mean and hitting this child and my child was bothering him on the bus and I must have heard from it from the vice principal (not really) and that it better stop “or else.” Also, she knew her child had kicked mine between the legs, but that was okay. This was news to me. She also said my child bothered her child on the bus.
I was shaken by the verbal attack. We checked with the bus driver. Our son sat at the front of the bus and nothing ever happened. The school informed us they forgot to tell us when her child kicked our son between the legs (on video), which is illegal. They then tracked all the video and found the “assault” claim against my son and his friend was a false report as they were never near the other child. He just wanted to go home early.
Unfortunately, the family is unstable and now seem to be fixated on us. So, this is one particular harassment situation.
So, what to do about it?
Document Problems with Neighbors
It is important to document the problems you are having with your neighbors. Even if you just email yourself and maybe one other person on the subject you will begin documenting what is happening in the neighborhood. In our case, I have kept an email chain for myself and also kept one going with the school, following up on email after each meeting.
Talking to Your Neighbors
If you think your neighbors are reasonable and safe, try talking to them calmly about the problem and see if you can work out a mutually acceptable solution. For example, in the case of dogs being left out all night to bark, maybe the neighbors would agree to take them in after 10:00 at night. In our situation, our neighbors are too unstable to take this option, but it can definitely work with more reasonable people.
Writing a Letter
You can also try writing a polite, but firm, letter, illustrating your concerns with the situation and what you think could be a possible solution, or solutions, to the problem. If you want proof your neighbors received the letter, you can have it sent through certified mail.
If you feel it may help, you can hire a mediator to work between your two families. This is a step you might take if you think your situation might be close to bad enough to hire an attorney, but not quite that bad. Mediators are third party individuals who can objectively try to come up with a solution between the two parties. Given our situation with personal animosities, this doesn’t seem right for our particular situation.
If you are concerned about personal safety, you can consider a variety of other options. You can get cameras placed around your property that upload to the internet and you can also get alerts on the phone. This can make you feel more safe about who is approaching your house, and if you are at home, if you want to answer the door. You can also consider a security system. We have placed Nest cameras around our house which has given me a bit more peace of mind.
This is one of the cameras we put in around our house to make sure we know who is approaching our house at all times. Since it uploads to the cloud, we also have proof of any incursions onto our property.
If your neighbor is entering your property a lot, threatening you, being physically violent or the like, you may be able to get a protective order against them. In some areas, the neighbor has to be arrested first, while in other areas you can go to your local courthouse, write down your evidence, and get an order for them to stay off your property. We have not yet pursued this option.
If you need to find out your neighbors’ names, you can go to your local Assessor and Property Tax Records office and give them your neighbors’ address. You should be able to get their names through that method.
If you ever get a gut feeling you are in serious danger or see a neighbor (or anyone) coming toward you belligerantly or with a weapon, get as safe as you can and call 911. Don't risk your own safety in a confrontation where you feel you might get hurt or worse.
If your neighbor does something that makes you feel immediately threatened, call the police and have them deal with it. Additionally, if you think another neighbor is in trouble, call the police. Also, if the neighbors are engaging in active, disorderly conduct you can call the police as well. The same goes for if they are breaking local noise ordinances.
You can also call the local non-emergency number if you are not sure if your neighbor’s actions qualify for police intervention. A local officer will come by and talk to you.
Hiring a Lawyer
If things just get too out of hand with your property line differences or other neighborly actions, you can consult a lawyer. Often you can have a brief consult for little money just to get an idea if you have a case.
Make sure any lawyer you hire is familiar with local harassment laws and has tried these kind of cases before.
A lawyer can:
Gather Evidence for You. This is invaluable in court. You need evidence to prove your neighbor’s wrongdoing in court.
File a Complaint. Who you need to file the complaint with and how the process runs is something your lawyer will know and be able to do for you.
Go to Court. You will have a much better chance of winning your case against your neighbor if you have a lawyer by your side.
You can also have your lawyer write a demand letter. This letter officially lays out what your neighbors must do to clear up the problems before being taken to court. The letter has a specific date by which the matter must be settled. This works best for property issues, noise issues, and the like. A lot of times, a demand letter can be enough to get your neighbors to fix the situation.
Keep Taking Deep Breaths
Stress between neighbors is very difficult to deal with. Your home is supposed to be a place of safety in the world, and when you feel that is endangered in any way it can add a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety to your life. Talk to your friends, look at this article, get help from outside sources if you feel like you need them. Don't be afraid to reach out if necessary. You deserve to feel safe and secure in your own home.
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© 2018 Teeuwynn Woodruff