"Peeping Tom" Tenant Making Female Tenant In Other Unit Nervous.

21 Replies

Looking for ideas on how to handle this situation at a small multifamily property.  At this point I'm uncertain what, if anything, I can do legally.  The young female tenant is nervous because of odd behavior of a male tenant who lives in another unit at the same property (directly across the hall).  I do not think that the girl is not overreacting for being uncomfortable with the situation.  She lives with a boyfriend who is a football coach and who is more than capable of protecting her, but he is not always around.  It is when she is by herself that the uncomfortable situations happen.  On multiple occasions she has noticed him staring out his window at her when she is outside with their dogs. He once asked her if she could see him in his windows when she is out with the dogs.  He has said odd things to her like he is going to start suntanning in the nude in the backyard, and once told her that he knew her boyfriend was out of town for the weekend for a football game (and she doesn't think he is a fan of the football team). The guy has been dishonest with her and another set of tenants in attempts to pit them against one another for things he was responsible for.

I am seeking suggestions for how to handle this situation.

Thank you

It doesn't sound like there's anything you can do in this situation. He hasn't threatened her, talking about sunbathing nude isn't illegal, if he's looking "out" of his window, that is not peeping Tom. Peeping Tom would be if he was looking "in" her window. Mentioning that he knows her boyfriend is out of town isn't illegal. Unless he breaks a law, I'd suggest you stay out of your tenant's interpersonal relationships. And if he does break a law, then it needs to be reported to law enforcement and you still need to not get involved unless it's something you would/could evict for.

Sure he is a little weird in his mannerisms . That’s not illegal . Maybe he’s just awkward around pretty girls . Very common with some folks ! If you said she caught him looking in her windows while she disrobing then you’d have a concern .

This is a nothing burger and your tenant is clearly overreacting making up a false narrative without any real facts to back it up . She must have some inferiority complex and scared of her own shadow . Tell her to chill out and if she is actually threatened or gets assaulted to call the police not to bother you

You aren’t a community guidance counselor or a trauma call center . You just own the building . Don’t let your tenants get you involved in their stupid trivial drama . Don’t play Johnny detective or super save-a-ho

@William Coet , Everyone else who has responded is male. They may not be aware of how these things affect a woman, but it is CREEPY and you feel violated. He knows where she lives and apparently keeps track of her boyfriend's schedule. That's downright weird. I would be super creeped out, too.

She doesn't feel safe in her own home, and she has shared this with you. I'm not sure what your liability would be should something happen to her, but I also would not want to take that chance. I would offer to let her out of the lease with a full refund of security deposit if she leaves the home in good condition and allows you to show the unit to potential tenants. If she chooses to stay, you tried to help and that action should go far if the unthinkable happens.

This is not an evictable offense, unfortunately. It isn't against the law to be creepy. Maybe he is just awkward with girls, but if I were her, I would ask to break the lease. If I were you, I'd allow her to. 

I would also not renew his lease when it comes up. Who knows who is going to move into that apartment after Girl 1 leaves? He has shown you he is super weird. Get him out as soon as you can.

Originally posted by @William Coet :

Looking for ideas on how to handle this situation at a small multifamily property.  At this point I'm uncertain what, if anything, I can do legally.  The young female tenant is nervous because of odd behavior of a male tenant who lives in another unit at the same property (directly across the hall).  I do not think that the girl is not overreacting for being uncomfortable with the situation.  She lives with a boyfriend who is a football coach and who is more than capable of protecting her, but he is not always around.  It is when she is by herself that the uncomfortable situations happen.  On multiple occasions she has noticed him staring out his window at her when she is outside with their dogs. He once asked her if she could see him in his windows when she is out with the dogs.  He has said odd things to her like he is going to start suntanning in the nude in the backyard, and once told her that he knew her boyfriend was out of town for the weekend for a football game (and she doesn't think he is a fan of the football team). The guy has been dishonest with her and another set of tenants in attempts to pit them against one another for things he was responsible for.

I am seeking suggestions for how to handle this situation.

Thank you

How long is left on his lease? The behavior you described includes triangulation, what could reasonably interpreted as a veiled threat, and inappropriate comments of a sexual nature. I would directly confront that tenant tell him that is absolutely inexcusable behavior-- if he is month-to-month, I'd 30 day notice him, if is lease is not close to the end, I'd 3 day him and tell him he has 30 days to move and if he wants to fight, his creepy comments can be part of a public court record. It's a risk but I bet he would move. If he is near the end of his lease tell him you're going to non-renew. Encourage the other tenant to put up a security system.

 

Disregarding the other posts just because they are male?...really?

Bottom line is there is nothing the landlord can do about this situation right now...... he may be creepy as hell.....she is probably 100% justified in feeling the way she feels....... but he hasn't done anything illegal or enough to break the lease or evict him. That's the truth of the situation. That has nothing to do with a male vs female opinion.

The guy is creepy...... and he will likely creep out future tenants too.......so as a landlord I would want him gone too..... but I cant do that until his lease is up and I decide to not renew.

I'm not going to let a tenant break a lease early with no penalty just because they have an issue with a neighbor that has done nothing illegal. He's creepy...... I get it...... I wouldn't want my wife or daughter to have to feel that way either. But I'm not going to start to let tenants break leases based solely on how they feel about the neighbors..... that's an avenue that opens a lot of doors.

If she truly feels that any of his actions are illegal, then call the police....get a full report on file and then we can talk about evicting him.... until then I have ZERO legal reason to boot him

Who's lease is up first?

Lets say you let her out early with no penalty..... then what? You only rent to guys or someone you know he wont creep out? Until he is gone, you will be faced with the same issue.....

So until his lease is up, or he breaks the law, you calm the situation as best you can then get him out.

Originally posted by @Mindy Jensen :

@William Coet , Everyone else who has responded is male. They may not be aware of how these things affect a woman, but it is CREEPY and you feel violated. He knows where she lives and apparently keeps track of her boyfriend's schedule. That's downright weird. I would be super creeped out, too.

She doesn't feel safe in her own home, and she has shared this with you. I'm not sure what your liability would be should something happen to her, but I also would not want to take that chance. I would offer to let her out of the lease with a full refund of security deposit if she leaves the home in good condition and allows you to show the unit to potential tenants. If she chooses to stay, you tried to help and that action should go far if the unthinkable happens.

This is not an evictable offense, unfortunately. It isn't against the law to be creepy. Maybe he is just awkward with girls, but if I were her, I would ask to break the lease. If I were you, I'd allow her to. 

I would also not renew his lease when it comes up. Who knows who is going to move into that apartment after Girl 1 leaves? He has shown you he is super weird. Get him out as soon as you can.

Hear hear. Let this gal out of her lease and do not renew the dude. He needs to be told his behavior is bothering other tenants and that will not be tolerated.

 

If I had a female tenant tell me this I'd ask the creeper if he stated to her he would be sunbathing nude. Whether he admits to it or not I would tell him it would be best to stop speaking to her and that if I find out he's harassing her I'll give him a 30 days notice. 

Creeper likely enjoys living there and there's a chance he'll simply leave her alone because he doesn't want to get kicked out. 

First off, I never said to disregard the other comments simply because they were made by men. I noted they were all made by men and insinuated - but should have said specifically - that they probably have never been in this situation themselves before, where someone is making them uncomfortable by acting super creepy. 

I acknowledged that he's done nothing illegal. Yet. This is absolutely how it starts. A look. A comment that can be taken more than one way but you both know which way it is intended. It can lead to nothing, or it can lead to something very ugly. 

If I were this girl, I would break my lease and leave as soon as I found another place to live. The landlord is asking for advice, I'm telling him what I would do. The paltry break-lease fee is nothing to me, probably a lot to her, and if anything happened to her because I refused to offer this option based on money would keep me up at night for the rest of my life. 

I'm quite sure our life experiences with stalking are very different, based on the comments you are making. 

Second, to tell her to walk the dogs someplace else ignores this situation. Do you think he's going to just simply stop looking for her because she walks the dogs in the back?

Third, I like @Jill F. 's comments even better - 3day him and tell him you'll kick him out if this happens again.

Someone said "Her boyfriend can take care of her" That's not how this works. He has already told her he knows her boyfriend's schedule. He'll absolutely wait until she's alone. 

Again, this is what I would do if I were the OP. It's not always about the money. 

And I would surely NOT give him a glowing review to any landlord who called up. 

This guy SCREAMS Ted Bundy.

Interesting Update: Their current lease doesn't expire for another 6 months, and I haven't even discussed renewal with her, but she contacted me today to ask to renew their lease for another year (only four days after telling me this information).

So there is this lady that lives across the hall from me. She's always jumpy and weird. I think she is some kind of voyeur. On multiple occasions I've caught her looking in my windows while she is "walking her dogs". It's creepy. It's gotten to the point that I stare directly at her while she is looking in my windows, hoping she will get the hint to not be a creeper. I once even asked her if she could see me in my windows, but she didn't seem to take the hint that she should not be looking into my home through the windows. Stop looking into my home creepy lady! God only knows where else this creeper lady peers into. I think she can see in my backyard. I actually told her I plan on suntanning in the nude hoping that this would discourage her from creeping her eyes into the backyard. LOL. No idea if this will work or only encourage her voyeuristic behavior. I'm not sure why she is fixated on me. I thought that perhaps she needed some help, but was too shy to ask. I tried being friendly and hinted that I knew her boyfriend was out of town, so if you need something let me know. She just replied that she didn't think I was a fan of that football team. WTF? Anyway, I want nothing to do with her. Now I just make up a lie to get away from her any time I see her. Any suggestions? 

My recommendation is to tell any tenant - who feels uncomfortable/threatened/harassed by another tenant/anyone on the property - to call the Police.  She can call the Non-Emergency number and ask if an officer can stop by to meet with her.  It's a public service that our police offer and it will create a record of the call.  

I also recommend telling her not to engage him; completely ignore him - no eye contact, no response, nothing.  When he doesn't get an audience with her, he most likely will find someone else to "charm."  

Tenants do not have to walk their dogs some place else, alter their schedules, or tolerate mistreatment by anyone. Creepy guy nude sunbathing in a Pennsylvania winter might be just the thing to ensure his karma.  


Saying he "screams Ted Bundy" is again a huge overstatement and overreaction...... in fact Ted Bundy was extremely charming and not considered "creepy" at all..... that why he had the "success" he had

He's creepy as hell.... I get it..... she is probably justified in feeling the way she does.....but 99% of those people will not do anything.....some will..... and its impossible to predict who will.

Again...... you let her out early..... then what? Only rent to guys?

Until you can get him out, you aren't solving the issue...... you are just postponing the solution or putting in his next "victim".....

And now she wants to renew...... guess its not as bad as she made it out to be......

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@Mindy Jensen

To offer a VERY different perspective...

I used to live in a two-bedroom next to a one-bedroom apartment. The bathroom of the two bedroom had a big window for ventilation that led to a central shaft of the building. The bathroom window was directly above the commode. Directly across was a window that led to the kitchen of the one-bedroom, directly above the kitchen sink.

So a very attractive young lady moved in next door. Over the next few weeks, as I was standing up at the commode to do my business with the window open, I observed, several times, the young lady, topless, doing dishes in her kitchen sink, with no curtains in her own (closed) window. She was looking down and she didn't see me, and I was able to duck out of the way. After about six or seven times, it became obvious she was a nudist at every opportunity at home.

It was a hot summer, in the nineties during the day, almost every day. We didn't have air conditioning. Neither did she. My ventilation window was open all the time. So I wrote her what I thought was a very nice letter, explaining the situation, explaining that I didn't want to play peeping Tom, asking her to maybe get some curtains or wear something when she washed the dishes. I couldn't get curtains because my window was a casement window, opening inward. I slipped my letter under her door one morning and hoped for the best. I did this because I thought it was the most decent thing to do.

She got FURIOUS at me. Her father lived across town, and she told him about it, and he got furious with me as well. In his book, if I was a REAL man, I would settle down in my john with a nice coffee and a cigarette and wait for my neighbors' appearances. This is what he told her, really.

She took every opportunity to make fun of me and belittle me during the next six months over it and pretty much everything else.

My point is that as a man, in matters like this, you often feel prejudged, damned if you do and damned if you don't. It really doesn't matter, she's GOING to think of you as a creep, even if she needs to manufacture the situation out of thin air. Your only (possible) way out of it would be to pretend you were gay, maybe, bring a guy over and make out with him in front of her.

This story ends in what you might think of as an unexpected way. Her father died suddenly, a year passed, and then one day we started talking about it. My own father had died suddenly the year before. It turned out that we had known each other as little children, and neither of us remembered, but we both had group photographs with the other in it. After all, her family had owned her apartment for forty-some years, since the building was built, as my family had as well.

I ended up living with her for eighteen months, with my mother right next door, and if things had gone differently we would be married today.

I stand by my comments that my life experiences with regards to this situation are very different than yours.

However, since the update from @William Coet , I don't even know what to say. Why, if she is feeling stalked, would she ask to stay longer? William, to cover yourself, I would document this entire exchange and anything that she tells you in the future. 

We are landlords not community therapists her feelings and personal experiences don’t matter to my rent or to my mortgage holder . I feel bad for boyfriend lol who would put up with this lady ? I’m surprised how many bleeding hearts here have sided with this nutty woman’s false narrative ! Folks the guy did nothing legally wrong and likened him to a rapist and serial killer ! Very unprofessional to make judgments like that . A clear personal bias against men I guess .

I would help her though . I’d offer her some of her deposit back so she can go to a local shrink to get the help she desperately needs and discuss her” feelings “ maybe he can listen to her nonsense story and get her on some psych meds .

A lot of the answers in this thread remind me of a part from Charlie Munger's speech "How to Guarantee a Life of Misery"

"My second prescription for misery is to learn everything you possibly
can from your own personal experience, minimizing what you learn
vicariously from the good and bad experience of others, living and dead.
This prescription is a sure-shot producer of misery and second-rate
achievement."

There are two main ideas in the thread, follow the lease or let her out of her lease if she wants (lets for a second ignore the added wrinkle that she wants to stay longer)
If we follow the lease we have limited our exposure to adverse outcomes.
If we decide to let the tenant out of her lease, we have dealt with the alligator closest to the boat and feel good about ourselves to boot. Awesome sauce.
Now we rent the newly vacant unit to Chad. Chad is a young urban Instagram influencer who moved to this part of town for the great new avocado toast place that opened up six blocks away. All is well for about four months, until Chad ditches urban toast for the up and coming free trade CBD Vape scene on the west side of town. He heard from his neighbors that you let the prior tenant out of her lease early so he asks the same of you. Like a stalwart business leader you are you reply back "No, Sir, we have a contract that doesn't include letting you move out early to follow your passion for vaping" He sends a bunch of indignant texts but then you don't hear anything for a bit and think all is well.
Little do you know that Chad's dad is a partner at the renowned law firm Dewey, Cheatem & Howe. Next thing you know a process server shows up at your door and you are in the middle of a lawsuit. One things leads to another and during discovery, your attorney asks you, " Chad's dad is asking for all of your leasing files for the past five years. You followed all your leases to a T and didn't make any acceptations, right?" After you suck at your teeth and answer your lawyer, her next question will be "How much money do you have in your checking account right now, we have to settle."

If you've made it this far, thanks for sticking around with my overwrought example that I understand is highly improbable, but the main point is, if you don't follow your lease you open yourself up to potentially negative consequences. Now the choice is the landlord's if they are willing to accept that risk, but it is a risk none the less.


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