General Question

crisw's avatar

Just moved and discovered we have neighbors from hell- what to do?

Asked by crisw (14120points) February 28th, 2011

For the past ten years, we have been living in the country, where we didn’t need to lock our doors and the loudest sounds were coyote serenades. For the next six months, until we move to Portland, we are back in the city.

We rented a house in a working-class neighborhood; a different area of the same neighborhood where we lived 10 years ago. It seemed quiet and safe at the time. I spent a few evenings moving and unpacking stuff with no noise and no problems. We did notice that there were junker cars parked in front of our house; my husband politely asked that at least one of them be moved so we can park in front of the house. They said they would; it hasn’t happened yet. My husband also saw the police serving some kind of papers there.

The night we moved in, the party next door started at 9:30 PM and went to the wee hours of the morning. Booming rap music, cars squealing in and out, people outside in front of our house being loud… I finally got to sleep about 1 AM with the help of earplugs and a loud fan.

The next morning, the rap music was still booming, so loud it sounded like we had a radio on in our house. I went out, in my pajamas, to get our dogs in and saw two of the neighbors in their yard. The guy looked at me and said “Music too loud?” I said yes, it was. I then asked, quite politely, “Do you have parties like the one last night very often? It was pretty loud, and we were really tired.”

I then got about 10 minutes of verbal haranguing that they owned the house, they party all the time, new people keep coming in and complaining, go ahead and call the police, they won’t do anything, they can party when they want, we can’t tell them what to do, etc. etc. He would not shut up and I couldn’t say anything- I finally just went back in the house.

A few minutes later, a man who was so drunk I could smell him through the window (and remember, it was still morning!) came up to the door and continued talking about the parties.

Later that day, I found out that a rape had been committed on our block – and, from the description, it was at their house. The rapist was a known gang member, who was a friend of the family and had been invited over in the past.

So, great. I have possibly dangerous and definitely noisy neighbors next door. I am scared of retaliation should we report them (my husband is often out of town on business trips and I am then alone) and they are not the type for successful mediation- they obviously have no conception of the rights of others.

Any ideas of what we can do, or is it just 6 months of suffering?

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36 Answers

SpatzieLover's avatar

I’d Pat Boone them for a few days ;0)

Actually, we had a “drug” family move in kiddie-corner from my grandparents house. It took about five years of neighbors fighting with local police to get them out.

For 6mos, you’ll probably have to live with it or move for your safety.

SuppRatings's avatar

You’re first problem is that you did not check out the area enough before moving in. There is nothing you can do about that now, so don’t harp on it. Your best bet is to try to talk rationally with the guy which is going to be very difficult. In as a nice manner as possible, tell him that you aren’t trying to be a jerk or be a pain, but if there are loud parities and such on anything other than the weekend; you are going to call the cops.

It’s important to not be a dick, just be honest and upfront. Its very important not to be a dick, see Im saying it again, because you don’t want it to escalate or come off as a threat.

Other than that, you will have to weather it. Good luck.

Coloma's avatar

I’d say keep a low profile, do NOT do anything that could be perceived as aggressive or confrontational and wait it out.

6 months is not that long.

Or….give your notice now and find another place ASAP.

Not much else you can do.

Stay and keep a low profile or go.

JmacOroni's avatar

I can relate, living next door to people that are criminals and bring dangerous people to the neighborhood. I live in a nice neighborhood, but the people that live directly next door to me have been a real downer for the last 6 years. To make matters worse, the person living there finally went to prison… only for the house to be taken over by family members that are not any more pleasant than the original.
I also understand how scary this can be, it really does pose a real danger. I would do my best to stay polite. I wouldn’t confront them, that’s for sure. You just don’t know what kind of situations may come up in the future. In the meanwhile, I would start a journal. Write down everything you notice. High traffic in and out of the place, loud parties, anything that seems suspicious. Just do your best to keep a low profile, as @Coloma said. I would do my best to stay under their radar and try to live as peacefully as possible for the next 6 months.
However, if at any time you feel directly threatened, I would call the police. Just express your concerns about wanting to remain anonymous. I would venture a guess that the authorities are already keeping an eye on this house if the information you found was so readily available, I bet the police have far more info than that. So that would play to your advantage.

Seaofclouds's avatar

Have you tried talking to your landlord yet about all of this? I would ask them if there is anything they can do from their end (since they actually own the place). Since you’re going to be there for a short time only, I’d try to keep as low of a profile as possible for the time being. I hope things get better. It sounds like a really shitty situation.

crisw's avatar

@SuppRatings

“You’re first problem is that you did not check out the area enough before moving in. ”

In my defense…

The rape happened after we had already signed the contract. I checked the crime stats before signing and the crime stats for the past year in the neighborhood show a couple of burglaries but nothing else (noise complaints are not tracked).

I did visit the neighborhood before signing the contract, including at night, and didn’t notice anything amiss. As I mentioned, we also lived nearby, although that was 10 years ago.

So I think we did do due diligence; as much as is possible in a rental situation.

Neurotic_David's avatar

I would break the contract and move-out ASAP. The short-term financial pain is worth it, in my opinion.

crisw's avatar

@Seaofclouds

I did write a note to the landlord yesterday. I doubt there is much she can do, but I did want to keep her aware of the situation.

crisw's avatar

@Neurotic_David

We might. However, the difficulty that we have is that we have lots of pets (two dogs, three cats and two chinchillas) and finding a rental that will take them (San Diego is a hard market for renters; there are few vacancies) is very difficult- the vast majority of house rentals here are “no pets.” In addition, most landlords here want a year lease, and we know we will only be here for 6 months. It took us quite a while to find this place. And, of course, we thought this rental wold work out fine…we could just put ourselves in a worse situation; plus our finances will take a huge hit if we move again.

Arghh…just doesn’t look like there is a good way out of this mess!

JmacOroni's avatar

@crisw if you must stay, then I would do as I mentioned above. Keep a record of what goes on next door, and lay low. Don’t stir up any problems with them, and most likely they won’t give two shits that you’re even there. Which, to some degree, is ideal. Getting them to change their behavior is unlikely.

crisw's avatar

@JmacOroni

Thanks. I might have to buy stock in an earplug company. I just hope they don’t bring any gang turf wars in…I am glad the police station is only about a half-mile away!

BBSDTfamily's avatar

You should report them anyway, keep a pistol in your nightstand just in case they get a crazy idea, and lock your doors. Most cities have noise ordinances after a certain time at night, so you need to call and see what the ordinance is and call and report them every single time they are out of compliance. It may take several calls before the police do anything, but if you’re complaining about the same thing several times a week, you will be heard and they will do something about it. If cars are parked on your property, you need to call a tow truck. If you let them bully you, they’ll just keep on doing it. Don’t go through 6 months of hell just to accomodate these people. You have rights too, and you need to excercise them.

crisw's avatar

@BBSDTfamily

The pistol is not an option. These people are probably a lot more familiar with guns than I could ever be. We do have two large dogs who can appear scary.

The cars are in the street, not on our lawn, so technically they aren’t on our property. We could report them under the ordinance that states that cars must be moved every 72 hours. Of course, they will then know we did it, and I am scared of retaliation. They were supposed to move the cars by today; we’ll see if anything has been done by the time I get home.

JmacOroni's avatar

I have to say that I, respectfully, disagree with @BBSDTfamily. I think that if you were living here long-term… then you would have to take action. However, I think these neighbors have already shown a disregard for authority, and that is never a good sign. I think that for a short term living arrangement, you should be taking defensive measures unless it escalates. I think that your concerns for your personal safety are valid and staying under their radar is the best way to avoid further incidents. If they were a bunch of rowdy, shit talking frat boys – I’d say to take action. I am just getting the impression that these are violent criminals, and I also stand by my notion that the police are probably already keeping an eye on this house.
I will say, though, that if you have children (I’m not sure if you do), that I would suck it up and move.

LuckyGuy's avatar

For $89 I’d set up a webcam watching their house and the street and tell the police about it. It might come in handy.

markferg's avatar

If you want to move out ASAP, tell the landlord that you are blaming it all on them and giving the neighbour their contact details. So, loud party, you call the landlord, they call the police. The police cannot say who called them, so you say it was the landlord, even though it was actually you. If the neighbour doesn’t harass the landlord then you do it and blame the neighbour! Could be fun.

tedd's avatar

I find it hard to believe these people actually own the house.

I also find it hard to believe they’re gainfully employed if they are partying every night.

Are they college kids or college aged kids?

I would say tough it out for the 6 months, get some added protection for yourself for that time though. Locks, maybe an actually big mean dog, a gun of some kind or something like that, cameras, etc, etc.

It sounds like there’s a decent chance they’ll find their way out of the house via the law or eviction within that 6 month time frame anyways.

syz's avatar

Check with the Crime Prevention officer in your police district. They will be able to advise you about local noise ordinances and any other options that you may have. Then call and file a complaint each and every time they stray outside the legal limits. Even if nothing is done at the time, each of those complaints will be filed and create a history, which will help if they are ever prosecuted.

Coloma's avatar

I tend to agree with @tedd

They have already shown they have ample rope to hang themselves. lol

Rapes on their property, loud parties, gang activity…it’s just a matter of time til they spontaneously combust.

WasCy's avatar

Because of your animal situation and finances, you’re kind of in a box, as you recognize. Unless you can find someone nearby to take care of the animals for you, then as you note you won’t have a lot of choice in moving to a new location. But it might be worthwhile to explore the option of having the animals boarded with friends for a while so that you can make alternative living arrangements. Where you are is clearly unsafe for many reasons.

While there, as you also note, you’ll have to tough it out and ignore what you can. I do not agree that calling the police for every noise violation is a good idea. However, I would present myself at the local precinct house (a few times – bring doughnuts and cookies) just to let them know who you are and that you’re in this bind. They will certainly be aware of the neighborhood. You might mention to them that you won’t be giving them nuisance calls, but that if you do call it will be an emergency. And then note the phone number for the precinct house and call them instead of 911 if the emergency ever arises.

One thing that hasn’t been mentioned but might be worth trying is “code enforcement”. If you notice obvious safety issues about the neighbors’ house, such as fire hazards, vermin, improper storage or use of chemicals or fuels or the like, then a call to the proper city authorities, such as the Health Department or Fire Department (not the police, although you might put them on notice that a police escort for their own safety would be wise) just might get the place condemned and closed down, forcing them to move on short notice. Wouldn’t that be a fine thing?

xjustxxclaudiax's avatar

Invest in a couple of baseball bats and practice breaking things in the backyard, show them you can kick ass if need be and a baseball bat always in hand.

jca's avatar

I would go visit the local police precinct, and talk with a detective or police officer. I would tell them about the loud parties, and that you are afraid for your safety. I would see if they could possibly do some “drive-by’s” and make more of a showing in your immediate area. Maybe without you calling the police about the parties, if they are around more they will notice that the parties are going on after hours.

I am not into disturbances and feeling unsafe so if I were you I would look into moving. Make the landlord aware of why you are moving and hope for the best. If you have children, their safety has to be paramount.

As far as their car parked in front of your house, that is something that you really cannot do anything about as it is public property. It’s a courtesy that people don’t park in front of other’s houses when they can avoid it, but it is public property, as you pointed out.

Please let us know how it turns out.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I would also talk with the other neighbors and get their contact info and email addresses . Set up a mailing list so that everyone is watching everyone else’s home. Make noise in the morning when you go to work. Have them do the same.
Together you are much stronger.

incendiary_dan's avatar

I’d invest in a couple little friends, in addition to the other advice people gave.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Install security cameras to cover your property. Had a Pastor friend that had to do this to deal with a drug dealer next door. The tapes were handy when the drug dealer let his rottweilers loose and the pastor had to kill one on his own front porch.

crisw's avatar

@WestRiverrat

I was thinking about that. I have a trail camera that we used on our country property, so I could use that for a starter.

@jca
We don’t have any kids. I like the idea of talking to the local police about our concerns.

Coloma's avatar

Take it on as a game, a challenge, make it fun!
Become CrisW PI lol

Have note taking supplies in every room, several pairs of binoculars, audio recording devices, encourage your dogs to bark a lot…put spray bottles with ammonia in every room.

Get into the I spy mode, buy yourself a hat and sunglasses with rubber nose and moustache.

Wear this disguise when you take them a plate of poison cookies.

elspethe's avatar

I must agree with those who say you should keep a low profile and also make plans to move. Perhaps you can live without the chinchillas also…. You do NOT want any more confrontations with these people. They are too dangerous to deal with and I don’t get the impression you really can deal with this type. It will be worth your while and peace of MINDS to go somewhere else as fast as possible. Be well!

Buttonstc's avatar

While I do understand your reluctance about a handgun (which requires training for accuracy if not a permit as well) you may want to consider a pump-action shotgun.

If you’re alone in the house at night and hear strange noises anywhere in the house, just the sound made when racking that thing carries loudly enough to convince any reasonable person to hightail it out of there.

Even if drunk or stoned, that is such a distinctive sound that it immediately gets the attention of anybody.

Especially if they are familiar with guns, this sound les them know you are indeed serious.

Handguns are tricky to aim in the dead of night. With a shotgun, it’s just point and shoot.

But just the sound itself does the trick 99% of the time.

Since you don’t have kids, you can just keep it handy under the bed. It will give you peace of mind for those times when your husband is away.

Trying to reason with them or confront them is futile. Keep a low profile and be glad it’s only six months.

But there’s also no reason to spend that time in fear. With a nice shotgun and your dogs, you’ll be protected.

Idiots like this would have little compunctions about killing dogs, but there’s not much they can do against a shotgun blast to the face and they’ll know that the second that sound grabs their attention.

Keep yourself safe.

Disc2021's avatar

Well, with the risk of sounding like a total wuss, I’d take @Neurotic_David‘s advice and get my ass out of there as soon as possible. Reach out to family/friends. Anything! Yikes.

I’m really sorry to hear about your situation – I’ve had some rough and awkward living situations, but none quite like this.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

@crisw I think violence is definitely a last option, I just suggested the gun because you said you thought there may be actual criminals right beside you and your safety is a concern.

@JmacOroni I definitely see your points, I just feel that 6 months is long-term enough to take some sort of action and 6 months can seem like 6 really long months if they’re dealing with this noise so often :(

crisw's avatar

Well, a few days later and things are a bit better. They did move a car and give us a space to park in front of the house. There have been only a couple loud music incidents during the day (a visitor parked a convertible in front of the our house today, for example, and blared rap while they fixed cars in the driveway.)

We’ll see how the weekend goes. I am documenting things (videotaped the blaring car, for example.)

RocketGuy's avatar

Yes, documentation is a great idea.

flo's avatar

I would find a way of gettingout of that building ASAP. Make sure you record everything in the meantime.

RocketGuy's avatar

When we renovated our house we moved to an apt. There was a parking space under the bedroom where the driver would slam her car door 6 times before driving off (5:00 am). It was tough to go back to sleep after that. Single phone calls to the manager had zero, or even negative, effect. I started to e-mail the manager with details after every door slamming event. Suddenly the problem went away. Documentation must have worked.

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