Neighbors from Hell scaring away my tenants

31 Replies

Hey all,

  So I need some advice on what to do regarding some terrible neighbors that live next to my 4 unit property.  Basically they are harassing my tenants by calling the police on them nearly every day for various completely made up reasons, such as drug use, shouting, disturbing the peace, public drunkenness etc.  These are all completely false claims as my property manager has interviewed other neighbors as well as talked to the police who have never seen any evidence of ANY of the reported offenses. It has gotten to the point where the police are apologizing to my tenants every time they are called out, but they have to respond regardless.  This is an ongoing thing with every tenant, in fact we have lost 3 tenants in the last 6 months because of it, they could not live with the stress and so we let them leave.

So my question is what is my recourse as the owner?  I realize my tenants could file restraining orders for being harassed, but none of them want that hassle when they can just leave, even if it is breaking their lease and we withhold their deposit.  My property manager has spoken with the owner of the neighbors building and he is just as bad as his tenants, who are his longtime friends who could do no wrong. 

What to do?

I might recommend trying to sit down and talk with them and maybe even let them in on the tenant selection process. I know it sounds crazy but it might be the only way to make them happy and you cant force them to move so I'd say play nice.

Greg,

Offer to buy the property!

Maybe you could speak with an attorney as to what your rights as they are disrupting your income as a retaliatory act. 

@Robert - There seems to be some sort of weird sexual nature to this as well, the neighbors are male and female but whenever I have a single female tenant they are fine, but as soon as she gets a boyfriend or has male visitors the calls start and continue unabated.  I feel introducing them /letting them pick might not be the best as that could lead to real abuse if they feel they have power over the tenants. But bringing them into the decision is one of my dwindling answers I guess, so I will consider it.

@Kim Meredith Hampton - Offering to buy was our first instinct but no dice.  It is the owners retirement basically, and the tenants are his longtime friends and he knows we would kick them out immediately.  

Tough spot....no way in hell would I let them help me pick the new tenants. Time for you to talk to a lawyer about getting a formal restraining order. If the police are being called out repeatedly and they are finding nothing, then the neighbors are making false calls and the police should have some recourse to force them to stop....you may just need to push them harder as they will take the easy road as long as you let it slide and don't make it a big deal.

Time to talk to a lawyer.......

Isn't there some fine or penalty for filing false reports/claims? If the police are appologizing when they come over, there is obviously a history. I would imagine they have some sort of documentation of calls. See if you can get that documentation and assemble all the facts, THEN talk to your attorney.

Originally posted by @Robert Freeborn :

Isn't there some fine or penalty for filing false reports/claims? If the police are appologizing when they come over, there is obviously a history. I would imagine they have some sort of documentation of calls. See if you can get that documentation and assemble all the facts, THEN talk to your attorney.

I second Robert's suggestion.  Get the police reports first, as you will need them for the attorney.  You might also make an appointment and speak to the police sergeant that runs your local police precinct.  Explain the situation to the sergeant and ask for his advice.  I have found the police to be very helpful when I have taken this approach.  You might also consider security cameras for your building.

I recommend you seek legal counsel. This sounds like it may fall under harassment. You may consider placing cameras to record the area and disprove any claims.

@Greg M. - Would a fence or hedge help? Install an obvious security camera?

I agree with @Bettina F. Take it to a higher up in the police department. Install the security cameras as a deterrent. Make sure they can be seen. Good luck! 

@Greg M. ,

Lots of great advice on this thread!    Personally, if I were in your shoes, I'd first install a privacy fence dividing the two, if they can't see  your tenants, it should provide a needed barrier for both.    In addition, the cameras--- with multiple signs warning people they are being watched, and have the cameras high and very visible.       

After you do this, I'd go to an attorney,  and have them write a very aggressive letter to the owner, stating consequences and actions that will be taken.     

Personally, I think the fence (if possible)  and cameras will solve a lot, it doesn't sound like your tenants are acting up, but in all honesty--- you don't know they aren't.. so the fence should stop either side from bothering each other.     You can get the police involved, but if you can try stopping the problem, it will be a lot easier and cheaper on you then a few law suits. 

Probably even a high fence wont solve the issue. I would talk to a lawyer about harrassment. Also if you have a community relations officer see if you can talk to him about his experience. The systematic compliants against all tenants speaks for itself. Multiple lease cancelations also speak to damages.
Probably even a high fence wont solve the issue. I would talk to a lawyer about harrassment. Also if you have a community relations officer see if you can talk to him about his experience. The systematic compliants against all tenants speaks for itself. Multiple lease cancelations also speak to damages.

I would begin the process of taking legal action through your lawyer. File complaints, restraining orders, take the landlord to court. Basically do as they are doing. 

In most cases escalating a war is not a good idea but in this situation your inaction has caused your problem. From what I read you have basically taken no direct action in response. You have left your tenants to manage on their own. Time to take action with extreme prejudice.

Target the landlord. You make is life and the life of his tenants as miserable as they have made yours or sell.

Would be a real shame if you an upstanding citizen looking out for his community noticed code violations and informed the city.....

Hatfields, and the McCoys.. Ya gotta a problem and I would for sure have your attorney address the issue promptly. Not sure why your PM is FRIENDS with the owner ???.. conflict of interest it seems weird to me, I would not let that PM near this building  again,, the PM is not capable to handle this and may spill the beans about what your doing, or planning, and who knows what else.. 

security cameras good idea,, fence good idea.. couldn't hurt to do both. Document as much as you can, it may even come to interviewing past tenants.. 

Good Luck

@Greg M. I would talk to my attorney first and then go straight to the owner of the property. Sounds like they are tenants?

I would say Hatfields and McCoys is your best approach (legally) if you have the stones to carry through.

Things I would do, in no particular order:

1. Install the tallest possible security fence around the property and plant my side of the fence with 80 foot Leland Cyprus trees. Post "No Trespassing" signs up. If the fence was wood and there's no zoning prohibition, I would consider painting their side of it some obnoxious color, like pink polka dot. 

2. Install security cameras to film everything going on outside the complex. Put up signs to let everyone know the exterior of that building is under 24 hour surveillance. 

3. File harassment lawsuits against the tenants of the building. Forget about the owner to start - he will have money to fight it and probably has his own lawyer. Highly unlikely that any of the tenants have their own attorneys, and they're not going to like getting judgments against them in absentia, so that alone would probably have the effect you're looking for. If that didn't get it, then add the owner in, who is not going to like spending money for dopey tenants, even if they are his friends. 

If you can't work these kinds of things out with reason, then your only course (other than doing nothing) is a war of attrition. See who gets sick of spending money first. 

Originally posted by @Deanna McCormick :

Hatfields, and the McCoys.. Ya gotta a problem and I would for sure have your attorney address the issue promptly. Not sure why your PM is FRIENDS with the owner ???.. conflict of interest it seems weird to me, I would not let that PM near this building  again,, the PM is not capable to handle this and may spill the beans about what your doing, or planning, and who knows what else.. 

security cameras good idea,, fence good idea.. couldn't hurt to do both. Document as much as you can, it may even come to interviewing past tenants.. 

Good Luck

 I believe he wsa saying that the owner of the other property is friends with the tenants, not that his PM is friends with them.  

I will agree about the fence and the security cams.  Check your local laws and clear them with the police department, since this seems like the type of neighbor that would harass you over that as well.  Then as suggested talk to the police Sargent and see what he or she suggests.  You may want to start with talking with the police department in person.  They would probably love not having to come out to fake calls all the time and may have suggestions.  

The bottom line is it is a HUGE safety concern.  If the neighbors are constantly calling the police for non-calls, when there is an actual emergency, the cops may assume it is another waste of time and take a long time to respond, that is what you want to avoid.

I hadn't thought about the fencing, the properties all back up to and share an empty lot for parking, I will have to pour over the property lines to see how feasible a fence is as that sounds like the easiest and best solution.  If we can stop their line of sight and throw up some cameras facing inwards and possibly outwards that might just work out. 

  Using the lost rents as reason to bring suit also might work to get lost revenue back, I hadn't thought of that as the primary aggrieved parties would be the tenants.  I will have to have all former tenants testify/ provide sworn statements stating the harassment was the primary/sole reason for them leaving along with police records I could possibly sue the owner for lost rents but that wouldn't necessarily stop the problem, but hopefully the owner would smarten up and get his people under control.

  Thanks for all the great feedback, I have some options now that I hadn't considered before.

I've had a similar issue. I paid a lawyer to write a letter to the owner. That cured the problem. If that doesn't work, I would invest in a few security cameras and get evidence. That would give the police enough to go on to pursue a false filing charge.

Originally posted by @Greg M. :

I hadn't thought about the fencing, the properties all back up to and share an empty lot for parking, I will have to pour over the property lines to see how feasible a fence is as that sounds like the easiest and best solution.  If we can stop their line of sight and throw up some cameras facing inwards and possibly outwards that might just work out. 

  Using the lost rents as reason to bring suit also might work to get lost revenue back, I hadn't thought of that as the primary aggrieved parties would be the tenants.  I will have to have all former tenants testify/ provide sworn statements stating the harassment was the primary/sole reason for them leaving along with police records I could possibly sue the owner for lost rents but that wouldn't necessarily stop the problem, but hopefully the owner would smarten up and get his people under control.

  Thanks for all the great feedback, I have some options now that I hadn't considered before.

 Getting sworn statements from the past tenants is way down the road. Very few cases ever actually make it to court. Most are settled before they ever see a judge. If you ever even get to that point it's possible (depends on your state) to even get subpoenas to force past tenants to appear for testimony. So I wouldn't even worry about that unless you get there. 

What about some REALLY bright LED floodlights. This way you can provide your tenants safe illuminated areas... Bonus points if they just happen to highlight the polka dot fence.

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