Neighbor is trespassing and scaring tenants...next steps?

29 Replies

Hi guys!

Question on handling strange neighbor behavior. One of my tenants is a young family and a neighbor has scared the stay at mom a few times by randomly showing up in their back yard, I think a fence would solve (most of) the problem, but I’m wondering if any of you have dealt with this in another less expensive way that worked well.

And yes, I learned my lesson about buying homes on this particular block :)

Thanks!

Joe

@Joe Meares

Tell her to call the police if he’s trespassing. Nothing you can do. I wouldn’t spend thousands of dollars on a fence. You can’t control the world.

Did the neighbor seem to be doing anything in particular other than walking around on the next door property? Perhaps they've been doing that for years. I think I would start by having a discussion with the neighbor and just simply ask him/her to not come on the property. I don't think "starting" with the police is the first thing to do.

Call the police for what ? Buy a fence and put it up ? Over a guy who took a shortcut through her yard or something, geez This is crazy !look just walk over and knock on the guys door and explain the situation and ask him to stay in his yard if your that worried about it . Keep in mind  most Tenants are mentally unstable they are prone to over react and often make stuff up to fit their narrative . they are like young mischievous children with creative imaginations . Personally I would pay the guy 20 bucks to wear a “ Jason” hockey mask and a one piece work suit to mow or weed eat back there  just to mess with her mind 

@Dennis M. That is a typical male reaction. Of course you would not feel threatened. Women live in a completely different world. How many men are raped each year? Any man who does not understand boundaries is scary as hell to females. Who likes to be scared? Put up a fence or $100 metal security door. This is not the last tenant to have a problem with this, or this neighbor, guaranteed.

Randomly showing up, What exactly was he doing? If he was just cutting through the yard which some people have done in my neighborhood then no big deal, if he is going onto your yard to maybe look at his roof or in order to do work in his yard then let him do it as he is not bothering anyone. BUT if he is just hanging in the yard, looking in windows of just doing something creepy then that a different story. You could:

1. Tell him that he is trespassing on the property but if he needs to maybe step on your property to trim his hedges or something then let him do it. But it its creepy then its a problem

2. Pull a Burner / Toaster / Hammer on him if he is creepy or gets irate .... 2A haha

3. File a police report for trespassing but do not charge him for anything. This way it is recorded by the police in the event this problem persist then they can take further action

Either way do not put up a fence. You are playing into the tenants and neighbors game which is gonna cost you a lot of money and show that you have no control over the situation which could have been resolved

Originally posted by @Theresa Harris :

I agree with Anthony about calling the police, but I would put up a fence.  If there are kids, the fence will allow them to use the backyard and could increase the value of the house.

I completely disagree. Fences add little value on a Uniform Residential Appraisal Report Form. In addition, you are playing into the tenants / neighbors game. Read my comments above

I agree with some about talking with the guy first. If that doesn't help then send a certified letter stating that he needs to stay off of the property. Once the letter is sent if it is not followed then you can call law enforcement to file a trespassing complaint. You have to give people a chance to correct an issue. I would just start by being neighborly and see what is going on. Remember there is always two sides to a store. 

Originally posted by @Marian Smith :
@Dennis M. That is a typical male reaction. Of course you would not feel threatened. Women live in a completely different world. How many men are raped each year? Any man who does not understand boundaries is scary as hell to females. Who likes to be scared? Put up a fence or $100 metal security door. This is not the last tenant to have a problem with this, or this neighbor, guaranteed.

Some might say Yours is a typical female reaction lol a scary helpless world  full of dangers and concerns over every little thing you see or hear .its isn’t some helpless old lady living alone . Where is the woman’s husband in all this if it’s that big of a deal ? Can’t he simply just talk with the fella ? Geez .. Technically it’s not even the landlords problem to be involved with such things . Tenant ,neighbor disputes and personal problems are not something the owner of the building should be getting involved with anyways . It’s not the landlords job to be policing the area .

In the same type of situation, it came up in a call from my lawn guy that his female mower said my tenant was watching her  and it made her uncomfortable.  What do you do with that kind of complaint?   A lot of women need to just growup. Has she spoken to the guy or just run in the house and hide.  Hey what are you doing in our yard?  If she doesn't want to do it, let her send her husband over.  Only after they have handled it themselves should you get involved and tell the guy yourself.  If he is peeping in the windows on her of course she can and should call the police but I would not go with a fence for this. There is a lot you can do first and did they ask for a fence because if they did it could just be a ploy to get one for some other reason. The story they tell you is never complete and accurate. 

@Joe Meares At this point I would not consider putting up a fence. Tell the tenant if she feels threatened to call the police and I mean that sincerely. Calling you does nothing unless she wants a fence and this is just her way of trying to get it, which I doubt is the case.

Nothing good is going to come from you confronting the neighbor unless you happen to have a good relationship with him, even then I would stay out of it.

@Joe Meares They should call the cops. What do they expect to you to do lol? If I was at one of my properties and someone was creeping around suspiciously I'd just call the cops, same as I tell my tenants to do. No need for you to be the middle man in a situation like this. Train your tenants.

Originally posted by @Angelo Mart :
Originally posted by @Theresa Harris:

I agree with Anthony about calling the police, but I would put up a fence.  If there are kids, the fence will allow them to use the backyard and could increase the value of the house.

I completely disagree. Fences add little value on a Uniform Residential Appraisal Report Form. In addition, you are playing into the tenants / neighbors game. Read my comments above 

Maybe it is different where you live.  There are very few places I know where there are no fences in the backyards. Most people with families, and even those without, like the privacy that a fence provides. Yes the tenant should be able to sort out the problem of the neighbour coming in the backyard themselves, but if they feel threatened, they can call the police. 

@Dennis M. it was the Jason mask comment that provoked my reply to you.  What a cruel idea to spook a female already on edge by a stranger “showing up” not cutting through and “few times” not once.  That lease will not renew without a solution.  The damage may already be done.  Posting a no trespassing sign and putting a smith-wesson sticker on the door may work too. (Or buy the tenant a gun...cheaper than a fence.)  Property lines are a lot like personal space.  Picture yourself on a bench in a quiet park and a man twice your strength sits next to you and puts a hand on your leg.  That is how vulnerable a female feels when boundaries are ignored.  Landlord should check national sex offender list.  And I think landlord should make the call and ask police to stop by and tell neighbor that “property owner” complained.  Because tenant is probably also afraid  make complaint against guy who lives nearby... because most rational people stay in their own yards.  Crazy people do not have same boundaries as normal people.

@Dennis M. Wow! How unprofessional and misogynistic of you! Everyone deserves the right to feel safe in their home. Sounds like this woman’s fear (and womens’ fear in general) is funny and entertaining for you? How creepy and disturbing is that! Nobody knows what the neighbor’s intentions are, or what the woman’s life experience has been. What if it were your sister or daughter or mother or wife? It might not be so entertaining then, would it?

Originally posted by @Joe Meares :

Hi guys!

Question on handling strange neighbor behavior. One of my tenants is a young family and a neighbor has scared the stay at mom a few times by randomly showing up in their back yard, I think a fence would solve (most of) the problem, but I’m wondering if any of you have dealt with this in another less expensive way that worked well.

And yes, I learned my lesson about buying homes on this particular block :)

Thanks!

Joe

There is definitely a cheaper way. And the best part is, in this case it's the right thing to do...nothing.

You own the property, but the tenant has legal rights to it. That means they also have responsibilities, including dealing with trespassers. Next time they complain to you, tell them it's their problem and they might call the police if they don't want to simply yell at the guy to get the hell out of the yard. You can accomplish that conversation in a very respectful and decent way without being a jerk. LOL, ironically, it's about establishing boundaries.

Are you going to go over there during a thunderstorm or when they watch a scary movie to hold their hand as their tender little beingness gets through such emotional trauma??? LOL.

I dated a girl who would run into the basement during a thunderstorm. I thought it was cute. It was in fact very real for her. I've heard elephants are scared of mice too. The irrational play here is to do anything more than nothing, IMO of course.

Originally posted by @Darlene Dodson :

@Dennis M. Wow! How unprofessional and misogynistic of you! Everyone deserves the right to feel safe in their home. Sounds like this woman’s fear (and womens’ fear in general) is funny and entertaining for you? How creepy and disturbing is that! Nobody knows what the neighbor’s intentions are, or what the woman’s life experience has been. What if it were your sister or daughter or mother or wife? It might not be so entertaining then, would it?

 I considered reporting this post as abuse (which it clearly is), but prefer to tackle issues head on instead of asking others to sort them out for me. Also, I am fairly sure your comments/opinions/judgement/scoldings towards Dennis will break on him like waves on the beach. You might want to check yourself there sister, it is you who is crossing the line. I might suggest, if you are open to suggestion, reading more of Dennis posts before rushing to such judgement. I find he is one of the most fair, professional and rational people who post here and yes, occasionally, he spices it up with a bit of sarcastic humor. The fact anyone thought he was serious about the Jason mask is pretty entertaining really.

As a side thought to anyone reading, whatever happened to Chicken Little?

@Joe Meares Can you define randomly showing up in the backyard? Is he passing through or posting in the backyard creeping her out? Someone posted that property lines are like personal space, which I agree, but most people don’t realize they’re invading personal space until brought to their attention. I feel she needs to speak up and let him know he’s trespassing. If he doesn’t respond then she can call a LEO.

Good luck. The simple answer is stated above somewhere in this post. It's not a landlord/tenant problem. It's a neighbors problem. They have laws and ordinances for just such a circumstance.

Originally posted by @Darlene Dodson :

@Dennis M. Wow! How unprofessional and misogynistic of you! Everyone deserves the right to feel safe in their home. Sounds like this woman’s fear (and womens’ fear in general) is funny and entertaining for you? How creepy and disturbing is that! Nobody knows what the neighbor’s intentions are, or what the woman’s life experience has been. What if it were your sister or daughter or mother or wife? It might not be so entertaining then, would it?

I understand your concern Darlene but I think your getting a little too emotional about this and being a bit melodramatic. Obviously the Jason mask reference was a joke but sometimes people are so uptight they don’t get me and that’s okay too . Funny thing is my loving wife would probably say the same as me and she’s a PhD psychologist. Who would have guessed she’d agree to marry a misogynist slumlord such as myself ! I lucked out .Best wishes in all your investing endeavors 

@Darlene Dodson What @Dennis M. was trying to say is that if it was his wife, sister, daughter, etc...he wouldn’t expect his landlord to fix the problem. Her or her husband should have a word with the neighbor. If that doesn’t resolve the problem then call the police.

I guess fences are not typical like they are here. We have block walls in back which are pretty common here. If it came down for any reason we would be fixing it. The prior owner did chain link in front. Not my favorite, but it keeps people from cutting across my corner lawn and their dogs dumping on it. Stay off my lawn!

Would they agree to an extra rent increase, maybe $100, to fund the wall? Err, fence.

@Joe Meares - Cheaper than the fence is a $99 Ring Doorbell or other motion detection camera on the front and back of the house plus a big bright NO TRESPASSING sign. Also a visit from a big man to the neighbors property to ask him not to trespass through. (Probably what I’d invest in before installing the cameras).

I’m a mom with two small kids and I would feel very threatened by a random person in my backyard especially if I hadn’t personally talked to the neighbor yet and decided he was OK. I’m the more aggressive type like asking “Hey buddy, What are you doing in my yard?!” because as a realtor I’ve seen places where AC compressors used to be. Ultimately, many women would rather not confront someone who threatens them, hoping things won’t escalate, but feeling helpless and out of control the whole time.

There’s a 200 unit apartment complex behind my house. If I ever noticed one of their tenants standing in the parking lot on a regular basis, staring at me and my kids in our fenced backyard or into the house through the sliding glass door window, I’d be extremely creeped out and feel unsafe in my home. I’m sure I’d stock up on pepper spray or something more useful. Did you read the article about “The Watcher” letters and a couple sold their 1.4m home for a loss after getting a series of creepy letters that made them feel unsafe?