What To Do About Creepy Neighbors
They say that when you buy a house, you also buy the neighborhood. Unfortunately, that means you could be getting anything out of your neighbors: sickeningly sweet, terribly prickly, or perverted and creepy.
You know the type — single, at least in their 50s, beer gut to the gods, and a stare that locks onto you like a lobster claw. Not what you would be looking for in a neighbor at all. Unfortunately, all you can do if you are stuck with bad neighbors is do your best to make friends. But creepy neighbors are a whole different story depending on their level of creepiness.
A woman from Ireland recently took to a local online forum, asking for advice on how to deal with a creepy pair of next-door neighbors. She says they stand in their front yard and stare at her while she mows the lawn, and when she leaves for extended periods of time, they call for estate/welfare checks on her house. Aside from talking to her neighbors about the issue, which is a task that seems daunting in the first place, she sought advice on finding helpful alternative methods to get these creepsters off her case.
Even though she is not from the United States, her sticky situation is familiar to many across the country and can be used as an example of what to do in situations where your neighbors are harassing you.
What To Do
If your neighbor is creeping you out, there are several steps you can take to avoid being spied on. However, before you take any drastic steps, you should assess the situation and see how much of a threat your neighbors may be to you. If you think the problem can be solved easily, you can try these steps:
- Call your neighbor to meet in a public setting, perhaps on the sidewalk or the property line or fence.
- Explain how you are affected by their actions and talk with them about working toward a solution.
- If talking it out doesn't work, you can try writing them a letter citing local privacy and harassment laws.
- If they persist, you could ask your landlord, apartment association, or homeowners' association to write a letter citing the local laws and association regulations.
- Build a privacy fence. Make sure to check with city regulations first. If you are part of a homeowner association (HOA) or are renting, check with either your landlord or the HOA's regulations for privacy fences before installing.
- You could write a petition with other neighbors if they agree with you and perhaps force the neighbor out by presenting it to your HOA or landlord.
If that doesn't work or your creepy neighbors are more threatening, you can call the police and file a complaint. This could be a good idea because if there are no complaints on file, the police will have a harder time taking further action down the road if the situation escalates.
If your creepy neighbors generally appear more nosy than dangerously creepy, then you can probably fix the situation by talking it out. However, if your neighbor's creepiness feels or appears threatening or uncomfortable, or if you think it could become more dangerous in the future, it's time to call the police and obtain a restraining order if possible.
Because you live within close proximity to your neighbors, it could be difficult to obtain a restraining order against them. You must show evidence of a potential threat from your neighbor, which can be hard to do if your neighbor is just staring at you a lot. If you aren't sure, it never hurts to consult with a lawyer to establish if a restraining order is plausible or will be helpful to you.
Not only does a restraining older keep the creep physically away from you; it can also assert that certain actions are prohibited. In a situation like that of the Irish woman, a restraining order could prohibit neighbors from watching her mow her lawn or call for welfare checks. This would allow her to call the police and have her neighbors arrested if they start watching her again.
HOA or Landlord Involvement
Your HOA or landlord is not a peacekeeping force; they are there to enforce the terms of an agreement. They usually do so via notices or fines. However, enough fines from the HOA may deter any further action from your neighbor. If your neighbor is blatantly breaking HOA bylaws, you can petition the HOA to enforce them.
Whether your neighbor has gone full Travis Bickle or is just reminiscent of your middle-school math teacher, there are always steps to take on the road to a more comfortable living situation and your own safety.
- Find a Lawyer Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory)
- Can I Sue My Neighbor for Harassment? (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
- Neighbor Disputes (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
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