General Question

ubersiren's avatar

What should I do about my obnoxious neighbors?

Asked by ubersiren (15031 points ) May 13th, 2009

I live in a court of probably 20 town homes. We have some new neighbors who have moved in directly across from us. There are about 5 adults living there though it’s hard to keep track since they have dozens of visitors each day. Not a problem. What is a problem is that they are out until 2 or 3 a.m. yelling at each other. I mean, it’s all day like that, but goes on until the early morning. Sometimes it’s friendly yelling, other times not. They often sit out on their front steps or in the parking lot at noon drinking 40s. I’m not making this up. They leave their bottles behind and throw their bottles and other garbage (diapers, fast food bags, cigarette boxes) into the storm drains, clogging them up and making a general mess of the parking lot and community. They don’t tie their garbage bags on pickup days, so trash blows everywhere and it attracts dozens of crows. Today I was outside playing with my son when the one super scary (and I suspect mentally ill) guy was talking to someone in a car in the parking lot. She drove away, and he walked back toward the house, cursing, and he punched a light post (not his property).

My dilemma. I don’t usually call cops for such things, as I think their services can be better spent elsewhere. I’m thinking it may be time, though. However, I don’t want it to get back to them and make them think this is a racist issue. They are black and I’m white. Most of our other neighbors in the court are also black (there’s one other white man, and 2 Hispanic families- everyone else is black). So, it’s not like I’m singling them out.

I mean, is this a police worthy problem? Or should I wait and talk to their landlady? I don’t see her too often, though, and I don’t know how to get in contact with her. I also don’t know that I would want to talk to them myself because, frankly, I’m scared of them. They’re loud and always drinking and cursing. Again, not to be like the paranoid racist white chick, but if one of the residents or dozens of visitors carries a gun, my family’s safety is an issue- even more than it already is with the aforementioned behavior. How do I handle this in a tactful and efficient way?

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46 Answers

ubersiren's avatar

The “crazy one” as I call him, is outside right this minute yelling obscenities while my son it trying to nap. wtf dude?

syz's avatar

Is there a neighborhood organization or a landlord that you can approach? If not, could you create one?

You might also want to call the non-emergency police line and try to find someone to talk to about your options. if you’re calm, reasonable and friendly, you can usually get some helpful suggestions.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

If they’re out drinking and yelling at 2–3am, call the police. It is absolutely a police worthy problem. It’s only a short time before that situation gets out of hand. That’s a party house for sure.
If you have a homeowners association, now is the time to get them involved.

dynamicduo's avatar

Call the cops, or any bylaw enforcement agency your city may have. Call them each and every time these people make a ruckus. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, after al. Also, complain to any condominium association you may belong to. Their behaviour of throwing garbage onto the street is likely littering and thus they can be given tickets for that by the cops. This is not a problem you should have to solve.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I would contact property management before the police. Just go to the on-site manager which lives in one of the apartments and should be clearly marked and ask for the property managers contact information. If there is no on-site manager, which there should be, then you can contact your City Hall or Chamber of Commerce about how to get in contact with the property manager.

If the property manager does nothing then I’d call the police and keep calling until the property manager is forced to do something.

Of course if you fear for your immediate safety at any time then call the police, do not feel guilty.

And it is likely your other neighbors are annoyed as well, keep that in mind.

In the meantime record everything that happens. It is very important that you do this and continue to do so in case a difficult situation arises.

MrGV's avatar

Get over it

Darwin's avatar

Anytime they are outside partying, drinking and making noise after whatever the noise ordinance sets as the cut off it is a bona fide police problem. However, you might talk to the various neighbors with whom you are friends or at least mailbox acquaintances to see if they view these new neighbors similarly. Then as a group you all could talk to the property manager about the various issues, or call the police for the same occasions.

As @RedPowerLady says, keep a diary in case there is ever a court case over these folks. Also keep an eye out for something actually illegal – drinking 40’s at noon in the parking lot may or may not be illegal according to your local ordinances but consumption (and sale) of other substances is illegal and the cops like to know when they can bust a bunch of folks.

And ignore MrGeneVan. He knows nothing about the real world.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@ubersiren I would keep a calendar of their activity, call the police anytime after 10pm regarding their noise, write a letter to the landlady, and a copy to the Homeowner’s or neighborhood association, too.

On the calendar, make certain to write approximate age of people, times of shouting, music, loud conversations-etc. None of this activity seems “normal” for this age group. I would suspect something else is at play here (drugs).

oratio's avatar

Jesus. What do the other neighbors think?

cak's avatar

Call the management about the trash and abuse of property, call the police about the alcohol, noise and any harassment. It’s not a racial issue, it’s matter of what is against the law. Also, whatever you report to the police, report it to the landlord.

The diary is a great tip, keep it! Lots of visitors, in and out, all hours of the day…could be drugs. Not something you want across the street from you. Do not rest on this one, follow through.

When you call the police, you are anonymous, unless you run out there and tell them you called the police.

cak's avatar

One more thing – keep in a mind a noise complaint is not a high priority call. If you are calling the police and have multiple issues, report all of the issues. Something may trigger a faster response. Also, check your local area’s noise ordinances. The landlord probably knows the time. Areas vary, so it is important to know the correct time.

YARNLADY's avatar

This is a perfect example of what you pay taxes for. You have already paid for the service, now use it! Call the police. As per @SpatzieLover fully document each and every complaint, and even record the sounds you can hear within your own house.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Yes, deal with your (thoroughly documented) complaint through the management office. And it would be better to approach them with a cadre of your other neighbours. If they see that more than one homeowner is annoyed, and might throw a spanner in the works that would interfere with profits, they’ll do something so that you won’t have to repeatedly call the police.

gtown's avatar

I would call from a pay phone, police and other city agencies can record your number and/or cell number. I’d report the trash to your city’s Codes & Compliance department. Drunk in public is not permissable, and most localities have a noise ordinance. Enough complaints and they could be fined or evicted. If they don’t pay their fines they can be arrested. Video tape the behavior and actions and send it in to your local news channel. I’m sure where there is alcohol of that quantity, drugs are probably present as well.

westy81585's avatar

Well consider your neighborhood. If this isn’t a problem with any other neighbors like you say, then you’ve got a good argument (but keep in mind this isn’t entirely crazy in some neighborhoods, like I live in a college neighborhood and that’s pretty much expected).

BUT, I think I would side with you. You COULD try directly approaching the neighbors in question about the issues… But it sounds like it would do you no good, not to mention there’s a lot of them so you never know if some might comply but others wouldn’t.

As others said, call the police and complain of noise, especially at night, at a certain point at night they are breaking the noise laws. A homeowners association if there is one would be helpful, but I’m guessing there’s not one. It couldn’t hurt to talk to the landlord, in fact I would call them. Also, talk to your other neighbors about it, see how they feel (strength in numbers).

Take comfort in the fact that home owners like that, often don’t live there very long (ala they’re probably wrecking the place and might end up behind on bills/rent before too long).

Best of luck.

ubersiren's avatar

@YARNLADY : Holy shit, I’m not getting into this with you. You’ve probably been just itching for something like this to come up. Good advice, nonetheless.

@MrGeneVan: I’ve been “getting over it” for months. I’m afraid if I continue to “get over it” then some drunk disorderly crazy person may injure or at the least negatively influence my 2 year old son. The more sleep I lose to 3 a.m. shouting matches the more worthless mom/wife/student I become. It’s hard to just let that go.

Les's avatar

I would avoid approaching them, not from fear, but once they know you are annoyed by them, they’ll suspect you when the police come knocking. My parents live on a block where their next door neighbor raises (illegally, I might add) pit bulls. Ugh. These neighbors know that we are annoyed with them because we have approached them on numerous occasions about the smell from their yard (they never pick up after their dog). Well, a while ago someone called the ASPCA about the dog, and it was taken away from the owner. He suspected us, though we did nothing.

So if I were you, just call the police and ask to remain anonymous. They will not use your name if you don’t want them to. Good luck with that. It sounds terrible.

ubersiren's avatar

Great advice about the homeowners assoc. We do have one, I never thought about contacting them. At the rate they charge they ought to be able to tell me something of value. Thanks for all who mentioned it. I will also have to talk to other neighbors about it and see what they say. I’m sort of curious anyway about what they think. I guess I’ve just been hoping eventually it will go away, but instead it’s getting worse.

Also, to respond to a few comments up- This was a fabulous neighborhood until they moved in. It’s one of those “planned” communities (google Columbia, MD) which is against everything I stand for, but admittedly it is a gorgeous and well managed little city. My “villiage” they call them, is so pretty. Full of beautiful trees and flowers, courteous neighbors, and prices to match. But these folks are renters, so I’m guessing they don’t have to pay that price. There in lies the problem.

chyna's avatar

You are right to not want them to know it is you who called the police or management or whoever. They could possibly retaliate. Be very careful of what you do.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@ubersiren I would do SERIOUS documentation.

A video is a good idea…but if most of this occurs at night, the best would be to record the sound from inside of your home.

You can try “calling” the landlady, but honestly, I am a property manager, and at this point, I’D tell you to CALL THE POLICE!!!!

Most leases have a line in that states that “illegal” conduct (for me that means a police visit or two for any reason concerning noise or misconduct) is reason for eviction.

Tobotron's avatar

Claymores…a fully auto carbine…and some grenades for good measure…or call the police there more likely to come out for a disturbance than any other petty crime!

jca's avatar

1. i wonder if mrgenevan is a parent?

2. i think you should consider moving.

cak's avatar

@jca – I think mrgenevan just likes saying something that will piss everyone off. He seems to just drop things in on threads and leave.

@ubersiren – you know, you can go through the landlady, but truly, the illegal and very disruptive activity needs to go through the police. That way, if there is something more serious (read: drugs) going on, things will move faster. You have a child, it’s your job to be very proactive about dangerous situations.

I know someone mentioned involving neighbors. While that is a wonderful idea, be careful. If they find out you are trying to get a group of tenants against them, they could harass you and your child.

charliecompany34's avatar

man, i would love to answer this but i cant read all that.

chyna's avatar

@charliecompany34 Let me para phrase for you:
Loud, obnoxious neighbors with people coming and going at all hours. Yelling, fighting, drinking on the front steps all day. Ubersiren had a child she would like to be able to go outside and play with. What should she do?

nebule's avatar

be yourself…do what you feel is right x

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

People coming and going at all hours is what raises a red flag for me.
When that many people are coming on going on a regular basis, combined with compulsive alcohol consumption, there is a better than average chance that drugs are involved.

ubersiren's avatar

@jca: we would love to move. One day… one day. **cries for more income**

@chyna: thanks! Why couldn’t I just say that?

chyna's avatar

@ubersiren Because we really needed all the details you provided. I hope you find a way to get this resolved.

casheroo's avatar

I would so call the cops on them. I’ve called the cops on the damn teenagers leaving beer bottles ON my car, and drinking in the woods. They are just so loud and obnoxious that I got fed up with it.
Your situation seems like it could turn dangerous quickly. Definitely call the HOA and the cops.

jca's avatar

instead of calling the cops, i would first go to the police station (that way you’re kind of clandestine) and speak to them about the situation in general. so when you call, if you call, they are familiar with the problem. also, by giving them a heads up, they will hopefully pay more attention to the housing development, drive through more, maybe, if you’re lucky. they might be interested in hearing about the traffic of people day in and day out. maybe they’ll do a drug bust without your having to call at all, which will be good for you (keeps it off you).

Judi's avatar

When you call the Police warn them about the guns ahead of time. Also, document all the license plate numbers. If there is a lot of traffic that only stays for a little while they are probably dealing drugs. The police will appreciate the license plate numbers. When people act like that they are bound to have friends who are wanted by the police for something and the information you provide can help them catch bad guys and that’s a job cops love to do.

Jack79's avatar

The way you describe it, it doesn’t sound like a racial issue, so try not to make it one.

The problem with calling the police or even the landlady is that if they’re not kicked out, you’ll have the exact same problems as now (their behaviour is part of who they are and won’t change), plus now they’ll hate you on top of everything else. And you can’t talk to them directly for exactly the same reason.

What is your relationship with the other members of this community? Instead of it being the crazy white chick complaining against the poor black family, it could be “The Community” (of blacks, hispanics, and ok, maybe a crazy white chick) against “The Evil New Neighbours” (who just happen to be black). That way you avoid making it a racial issue, because you know that’s what they’ll hide behind. Start by talking to the people in the houses on either side of theirs. They probably have a bigger problem than you do, and are just as scared to talk. Then talk to your own next door neighbours. Those 4 homes are close enough to know the new neighbours better, and the 5 of you can then talk to the rest of the residents. After that I’d try and find the landlady, but altogether. I’m sure she can be contacted somehow (info on your lease?).

Judi's avatar

You can get the owner information from your tax assesors office.

Dr_C's avatar

#1 find, buy or borrow a video camera
#2 document deviant behaviour and store evidence
#3 Inform police of said deviant behaviour
#4 If nothing is done over noise complaint drop off video evidence at local police station with an annonymous letter detailing your complaints

just remember… if you were to take video of these activities make sure not to do it from a window in yopur house as the angle of sight will be quite obvious and annonimity goes out the window.

Above all AVOID these neighbors like the plague. Call the cops.

wundayatta's avatar

A) Does this behavior bother any of your neighbors?
B) Do the partiers know this behavior bothers you?

jca's avatar

the only problem with Jack79’s suggestion is that if any of the people you try to discuss this with are friends of the bad guys, then they’ll tell them that you’re gossipping about them. you never know who’s friends with who.

ubersiren's avatar

@jca : Yeah, I’m kind of worried about asking the neighbors for that reason. I think the one neighbor has helped them with car trouble before. Maybe I’ll just skip that one. I’m a big ol’ chicken.

@daloon : A) I plan on asking around to some of the neighbors, but I’m not sure what they think yet. B) I think they just don’t care. But, I haven’t talked to them if that’s what you’re asking. They scare me and I’d rather not.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

hire the russian mob
I have the number

cak's avatar

@ubersiren – You are 100% correct. Do not approach these people. This is not a time to approach and try to compromise with neighbors. It sounds too dangerous. Please be very careful talking to your neighbors, as well. Approach those that you can talk to, if you aren’t sure where someone would stand on the issue, approach that carefully. You just don’t know who might be associating with them.

wundayatta's avatar

In situations like this, other neighbors are often just as annoyed as you are. If you ask around, you may find someone who is willing to talk to these people (and if that someone is a big guy, maybe even intimidate them, if that’s what it takes).

Like you, I’m a chicken, too. However, I have found that a lot of neighbors, and sometimes the scary ones, have no idea they are bothering you, and will stop if you ask. Generally, it is not me that finds this out.

I wonder if there are any ombudspeople in your area that can help with this kind of thing. Maybe a city service directory can help. Also, your local elected rep, or a party committeeperson can help. I know you hate politics and politicians, but this is what they’re there for.

ubersiren's avatar

@daloon : I plan on asking as soon as I get the nerve. I’m hesitant to ruffle any feathers. And I think I’ll call on the police before a politician. But I certainly will if the police (or whomever) won’t/can’t do anything about it. After all, if they’re making me pay their salary, I’m sure going to use them for all they’re worth. :)

Capt_Bloth's avatar

If you want to give them the courtesy of a discussion before you call the landlord or cops, and still avoid letting them know you have a problem with the way they act, you could mail them an anonymous letter explaining your feelings and listing the steps you will take next if the behavior does not stop. Though this seems a bit weird even to me, and I might decide that I don’t want to go to the trouble if I were in your situation.

Darwin's avatar

Anonymous letters are the coward’s way out. They also tend to make the recipients even angrier and suspicious of everyone.

YARNLADY's avatar

I urge you not to confront them personally. Here’s what happened last week, and the dead guy was in the right!

gussnarp's avatar

Definitely call the police, and here’s why: it’s understandable to think that the police have more important things to do, but I think we get the wrong idea from cop shows. The truth is that it’s pretty hard to actually catch drug dealers, thieves, and murderers through detective work. A lot of these people will get away with it as long as they don’t screw up royally. Meanwhile, people like your neighbors who ignore the obvious and reasonable social rules of a community are also likely to ignore more serious laws. Odds are these people are doing things that are more illegal than just disturbing the peace and drinking in public. Your call to the police may enable them to discover a more serious crime and may prevent some future crime. There is no need to give them the benefit of a warning, talk to them in person, or write an anonymous letter. They know they are behaving poorly, they just don’t care.

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