How to Deal With a Neighbor From Hell

July 31st, 2009 by

Unless you are very fortunate, you will eventually encounter the neighbor from hell. This type of neighbor seems oblivious to your existence, even though you live right next-door. Their behavior includes many disturbing activities including noise, constant traffic in and out of the apartment, slamming doors, and leaving garbage in the hallway for days. These can be mild compared to other possibilities, the neighbor from hell may engage in illegal activity (such as drug dealing), which could jeopardize your safety. When moving to a new apartment, or watching a new neighbor move in, you hope for a good neighbor. But, what do you do if you end up with a rotten neighbor?

Taking Action to Curb Bad Neighbor Problems

Once you’ve concluded that your neighbor’s behavior is harming your quality of life, it’s time to plan your course of action. To begin, keep a log of their offending behavior. Write down the dates and times of each infraction, along with a detailed description of what happened. You’ll need this information later.

After recording several infractions, have a word with your neighbor. The goal of this contact isn’t to stop them immediately, it’s to put them on notice of the problem. Wait for the offending behavior to occur and then knock on their door to tell them it’s bothering you. No matter how annoyed you are, stay calm. Regardless of their response, thank them for listening to you and politely leave.

Wait a few days to see if there is any improvement. Should the problems persist, you’ll have to move to the next step, contacting the management. Call your property manager or landlord with your log in hand. Give specific examples of your neighbor’s disturbing behavior and ask them to speak to the occupants of the offending apartment. If your neighbor is breaking any of your apartment’s rules, be sure to mention which ones; also mention that you’d like them to follow up with you.

Allow a week for the management to get back to you and then call again. Make a note of whatever the manager or landlord says to you. Use this information to draft a letter to your landlord, outlining your complaint and any conversations that you had with the management.

At this stage, consider filing a complaint with the police for something like a violation of your town’s noise ordinance. A call to the police during a loud, late-night party will suffice. Any evidence of illegal activity should be reported to your landlord and the police. Using an anonymous tip line to contact police for illegal activity may avoid a confrontation with your neighbor.

When All Else Fails

If the above steps yield no improvement, ask your landlord to evict your neighbor. You are legally entitled to the quiet enjoyment of your home. Your neighbor’s lease gives your landlord the right to evict them for making the building uninhabitable or endangering other residents. Alternatively, using your log and complaint history as a basis, ask your landlord to release you from your lease and move elsewhere.

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Lisa Bernstein: As a long-time apartment dweller and seasoned condominium trustee, I have dealt with numerous landlord-tenant, property management, and day-to-day apartment complex issues. My extensive, direct experience has led to invaluable insights into apartment life from both the tenant and management perspectives.

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19 Responses to “How to Deal With a Neighbor From Hell”

  1. Tom Says:

    Oh, if it were only that simple. I had to put up with a b**ch above me who just loved slamming her foot on the floor just to harass me. She even called a cop when I was cleaning my apartment. What a paranoid freak. The manager was a lazy sh** who wouldn’t do anything about it. I called an attorney who also wouldn’t do anything.

  2. Paul Says:

    How about the hypersensitive neighbor? Had a neighbor once that called the police on me for using my disposal or running my vacuum cleaner in the middle of the day. Old lady had us walking around on pins and needles. She once called the police on us saying she heard screaming from the apartment. The police knocked on my door waking me up (which it was obvious to them I had been sleeping). They had to come inside and ask about my wife who had been at work for over an hour. After looking in all the closets (no really) they called her at work and asked her if she had been screaming!! Assuming she was mental the landlord gave the old lady a real ass chewing, but it could have been a problem with a less intelligent landlord. The moral I guess is there are all kinds of bad neighbors.

  3. J. Jones Says:

    This situation is often frustrating. The District of Columbia where I live has recently done several things that might help some times. The District sued Sharlon Williams, Capitol East Partners, II, Fufus Stancil, and many other landlords for failing to keep their rental properties in livable condition. Bad neighbors weren’t much of the problem, but could be grounds for government action if the landlords don’t do what they should. The District is moving like a snail but still moving towards allowing tenants to sue in landlord tenant court, and this might allow tneants to quickly bring pressure on landlords who turn away from any complaints about neighbors from hell. There’s also the DC Tenants Advocacy Coalition, that represents interests of tenants generally and is open to helpfully respond to tenants in trouble. Website is tenac.org. District of Columbia courts recognize lawsuits by neighbors hurt by neighbors from hell. One suit was against landlords Nancy Itteilag and a “trust” also with name Itteilag. Jury found that the landlords and four tenants guilty of negligence and intentional harm to neighboring property. The neighbors harmed included a elderly woman who was seriously ill but was awakened often by nighttime noises. The jury was told that Nancy Itteilag not only did almost nothing to improve the situation but told the tenants they should party more! A property management expert told the jury that the landlords failed to meet the standard for behavior by landlords in the area. Maybe this case could help people thruout US with neighbors from hell. I am interested in getting more info about the case but could use help. If there’s anyone in or near DC who could give assistance, I’d be grateful. If anyone knows of websites where this case could be published so other landlords and tenants could know not just about the people in this one case but the wider meanings, I’d like to hear from you.

  4. Kim Says:

    Try living where I live. I live under a 21 year old boy who LOVES to blast his monkey music after midnight for the last 5 years, I have complain to management all they done is send warning notices. I have called the cops but they claim they couldn’t hear anything. I suffer from migraines and need to be in a dark and quiet room, where I’m supposed to go in my closet but I know when I come out of the closet I’m straight not like the little boy. I have to wear 3 pairs of earplugs in each ear every night just to try and sleep. You figure getting cussed out for 5 years he will learn,another dumb ass bastard. Mommy DIDN’T raise a man, she should of kept her legs closed when she was 12 and I wouldn’t have to put up with her disrepectfully bastard.

  5. A C Says:

    I have been living under a real live PSYCHO!..I worked in the medical field but never saw it first hand…attacking me,getting off from that charge after being arrested , jailed etc…long story..I just hired a lawyer because after fours years of emails etc it became too stressful for me…so he handles the calls etc…but I own and she rents above me…so the owner ONLY cares about that monthly check, the board(COOP) wants to come into my home and “listen” to the noise…well she’s a TERRORIST!…she’ll throw that bowling ball right over my bed at 5 am…and how the heck can I run & get someone to “listen” to noise…it’s all ridiculous…BUT I want to know if there’s a way I can have her blacklisted in NYC when she goes to look for another rental in this city..I want her OFF THE ISLAND!
    Thanks for the help,
    AC…I really do not want to put my name just in case she eads this….she NEVER leaves THAT room…I live in a studio…this is FOUR years

  6. Nedra Says:

    Kim your a racist and that’s it.

    “monkey music” how subtle

    by the tone of your super nasty comments I would imagine you DO have migraines. Why don’t you move instead of just complaining.

  7. Nellie Says:

    I was able to get rid of one neighbor from hell — aka The Crack Ho — by calling the police when there was a problem and THEY told the landlord to get rid of her. Having your hallway smell like crack when the cops showed up helped a lot. Fortunately, my community has a Crime-Free Housing unit, and its purpose it to make sure apartments and complexes are safe and, well, crime-free. Landlords must go through training to see the signs of crime in their buildings and they also learn more about their rights, too.

    Now, the OTHER problem neighbor isn’t going anywhere. She’s old and crazy. She yells things, day in day out, at no one in particular, and even tho what she yells is very rude (F Uuuuuuuu and K–L Uuuuuuu) there is nothing that can be done because crazy is protected. She knocks on my door constantly asking inane and needless questions just to get attention. Now discovered she has been throwing away my newspaper if I don’t get it before she goes outside. She walks around the neighborhood wearing her nightgown and bathrobe, it is just weird.

    I’ve talked to the cops, senior services, social services, and there is nothing I can do but move, just cant’ afford to.

  8. Lyman B. Says:

    Confronting individuals who ruthlessly blast tasteless loud music isn’t a prudent choice. You have to understand that people who listen to such raw “music” at a sickeningly high volume are low caliber, unsavory people. Calling the police is the only way to go. Those loud music fiends will more often than not retaliate causing damage to your personal property, playing even louder “music,” or even attempting to inflict bodily harm on you if you confront them. Many times this so-called passive aggressive behavior can become seriously violent. Please don’t ever confront these people. Even neighbors who may seem like presentable people can become a raging maniac when confronted regarding their loud “music.” The police have stun guns, their 9MM’s, night sticks and cuffs and they know how to handle a bellicose dolt when need be; us civilians are sitting ducks not knowing what kind of nut job has his subwoofers breaking the sound barrier. Please be careful of people of this lowly nature whether in your home or on the road.

  9. Debra Says:

    I’ve read so many articles about handling problem neighbors. They usually start out with “speak to the neighbor politely” etc.

    That’s fine if the neighbor doesn’t realize there’s a problem. For instance, they may not realize that their dog barks all day when they’re not home. Fine.

    But my experience is that most problem neighbors know they’re acting inappropriately and just DON’T CARE.

    If you are blatantly breaking the rules of the community, YOU KNOW you’re doing something wrong. If you act in a way that is obviously outside of normal behaviour, YOU KNOW you’re doing something wrong. YOU DON’T CARE.

    I have owned and been living in a one-story condo building for 8 years. Next door neighbor inherited his condo about 2 years ago and allowed a crack-addict to move in with him. Claims he “feels sorry for her”. Meanwhile, between 1:00am and 3:00am (maybe after she scores?) on a regular basis, she turns into a crazy lunatic screaming at the top of her lungs.

    You cannot tell me this guy isn’t aware that he’s making life miserable for the people around him. And if common sense isn’t enough to clue the idiot in, the repeated visits by Security should be.

    My point? If you’re living near an @$$hole who has no excuse for their obvious bad behaviour, you don’t owe them the courtesy of anything.

  10. GUESS Says:

    My neighbor was very loud too. I was getting up everyday at 4am for work and my neihbor was partying everynight till 6am. Also they had a dog barking as soon they will go to work about 7-8amd till 4-5pm. I couldn’t get any sleep or at least quiet time. One day they were having a party about 3am and my b-friend show up so we went to talk to them and didn’t work. The lady that lived with this guy show up at my door calling me names because I ask here to keep it down because is alrady 3am, so I got so mad and I call the cops. They show up they talk to them and they told me if they won’t be quiet in 30 minutes I should call again so I did and they got a ticked. We went to court and the judge give them 30 days and if I will call cop again in those 30 days they will get $1000 fine fee and 6 months community work. After that they never had any parties again and they were so quiet till they move out about 1 month ago.

  11. Hector Says:

    if you dont likes the noise live some ware else peoples gotta live and enjoy there music

  12. Mark Says:

    Hector. Do you own or rent? Your simple solution is of no value to somebody who owns their property. We have tried to sell and move, but the neighbor is so offensive that nobody will buy our townhome. What do you suggest we do?

  13. Sam Says:

    I live next door to a bunch of animals i could say worse words for them though they are just the most filthy people alive!
    The father is a complete creep off his face non stop on whatever he can get his hands on, spends the whole day drinking and getting off his face yelling every curse at the top of his lungs calls his girlfriend a c**t and dirty when he is just as bad.
    The girlfriend pops out a new kid every nine months so far four all under the age of 6 her mouth is just as bad as the fathers.
    Their kids are exposed to so much filth they say and do the same.
    They constantly have their f**ked up friends over that are just like them they are up to 5am with their bon fire, music drinking and carrying on and then their up a couple hours later doing it all over again.
    This also includes their urguing, physical fights with people walking past and they never put their bins out so we have to suffer the constant spell of their childrens nappies and the alcohol they drink non stop.
    Oh and their children now throw rubbish and their toys on our front and back lawn by climbing up things.
    This is everday and we have said to them on so many occasions now it is breaking point.

  14. Paula Says:

    I really have no idea about what to do in my situation. My neighbor is a crazy, lonely, angry racist. He constantly blasts shitty eighties rock, just to try to cover up the sound of him swearing at the top of his lungs. He leaves garbage everywhere and blames it on us, despite it containing loads of beercans, when he’s the only resident in the building old enough to drink. He calls and makes noise complaints about me on a regular basis, as early as nine pm, just for having room level conversations. We tried confronting him once, and all that happened was he almost swung at me, then kept messing with the water in the house to give everyone cold showers. I’ve tried talking to the landlord, but she’s friend’s or something with his family and won’t listen to me. I’m tired of her giving me bitchy phonecalls over his false accusations, and of him swearing at me whenever I have to pass by him in the hallway. His defense is always that he’s got “problems” and has a learning disability, which I don’t think should have any merit in this case. I am thinking of just moving when our lease is up, but then there’s just more chances of running into other crazy people.

  15. Just Me Says:

    I could use some advice. And please don’t tell me to move. We shouldn’t have to uproot our lives because we are not the problem. Besides, we’ve been here a lot longer than the b*tch for a neighbor. She lives with her boyfriend and 2 year old son. Where to begin. First off, the kid runs through out the apartment stomping his feet as hard as he can. He pounds on the walls all day and night. She screams and cusses him out. Her boyfriend comes home from work at 6:00am and plays with his car alarm for a good 10-15 minutes. She likes to slam door everytime she comes and goes. I’ve called the landord so many times he doesn’t even answer the phone anymore. The times where I have actually talked to him, he gives me the same B.S. line everytime … “Oh, I’ll take care of it.” And he never does. And to top it off, this neighbor hasn’t paid rent in a long ass time. The only reason I know this is because she’s told everyone here that she hasn’t. Like I said, my girlfriend and I shouldn’t have to move as we are not the problem. I’ve called the police when they play loud music and the police do nothing. She keeps having babies and putting them up for adoption so she can get paid. She’s 24 and has had 5 kids (she’s given 3 up for adoption). The last baby she gave up was three months ago. Well, I found out this morning (from her screaming at her b/f) that she is pregnant AGAIN. So this means she probably won’t pay rent for another 9 months. Cuz the last baby she had she got the adoption parents to pay her back rent and I’m sure that is her plan again. The landlod has told me numerous times that he wants them out of here. He tells me that other neighbors have complained about them. But he refuses to do anything. We always pay our rent and are never late but she never pays rent she’s allowed to make life miserable for everyone in this building. I don’t know what to do anymore. We are going on no sleep here.

  16. fed up Says:

    Geez..where do I start? I have been living in my apartment for 4 years now, had wonderful neighbors. A couple of months ago..had this couple move in..the guy is french and apparently has nothing to do in this country. He sits in front of his mac all day long and blasts music at the most inappropriate of times. That b*tch of his girlfriend comes home from university and they have noisy sex almost every night. To top it all off, he sings and plays his guitar in the afternoons or late at night. They are up watching TV at 2-3 in the morning and laughing loudly. I’m a final year med student..and there is only so much time I can spend in the hospital or the library..I have to come home to eat and get a good night’s rest. My life has become hell for the last 2 months. I have complained numerous times and even called the cops once, but these idiots don’t seem to get it. Arghh..I don’t know what to do anymore.

  17. Irritatated Says:

    I live in apartments primarily inhabited by college kids. I’ve had problems with all of the neighbors in my building at some point, and I don’t know what to do about it. The teenage girls upstairs of me run around their apartment constantly, slam doors and play x-box kinect games that involve running and jumping well after 10pm. The neighbors across from them haven’t really causing any problems other than allowing all their friends to take up the limited resident parking in front of our building. The guys across from me are my biggest beef though. They constantly scream “woo!” at the tops of their lungs at all hours (I assume they are either watching sports or playing some sort of video game), they leave their garbage in front of my door, they leave their door open and yell all the time, and they kick garbage or things they have dropped in front of their own door over in front of mine instead of just picking it up. All of the neighbors run up or stop/jump down the stairs as well.

    I’ve tried talking to the apartment manager and she has refused to do anything about the issues (even though they are all explicitly gone over in the lease agreement). She just tells me to call the cops about the noise, but the cops won’t bother for something they can’t be there to witness and basically just tells me to “deal with it” because they are college apartments…which they are not. My grades are starting to fall because I can’t concentrate or sleep with all the noise! Does anyone have any suggestions on what I can do? I have already tried ignoring them and talking to them, and all that got me was a nasty note pinned to my apartment door.

  18. L Says:

    We rent a one-level unit in a condo community. The owner of the unit above us puts his dog on the balcony to pee instead of walking it. The dog is mid-size and pee STREAMS onto our balcony several times a day. I tried washing it off last weekend, but that’s not a long term/regular solution because it means the dirty water inevitably splashes onto the neighbors below us. But letting it sit there gets so bad that the smell prevents us from even being able to have our balcony door open– let alone going out there. This neighbor has not been cooperative with polite requests about stomping and leaking plumbing in the past (complete denial) so we contacted our property manager, who said the condo association could send a letter but it was our responsibility to report it to the county health department. Well, for better or worse we already did that and the letter from the health department saying he’s in violation of the code should arrive today, but I’m not sure it will make a difference. Meanwhile the pee keeps streaming down and the balcony smells worse and worse.

    So I’m asking for advice– particularly, to what degree is our landlord responsible in this situation? I know it’s the neighbor causing the problem, and the owner can’t do anything about this guy since each condo is separately owned…but do we have a right to ask the owner to pay to clean the balcony? Can we break our lease without penalty? (Since the landlord is responsible for maintaining the property in a livable condition…?) Any help is appreciated!! :-(

  19. Ed Says:

    Had an issue a few years back @ my condo complex, where an idiot neighbor kept parking her car in the alley way and blocking my car. I asked her multiple times in person and with notes on her car to be considerate of her neighbors and not to block us.

    Her response was always rude. She’d simply toss the notes on the floor. Our security wouldn’t tow her unless she was blocking me for 72 hours+ which I found to be ridicuolous.

    One day I decided to clean my rifles with my garage door open as she was blocking me once again. I just stared at her as she came out to her car. I didn’t smile and I wasn’t angry looking. Just straight faced, but I stared at her a lot while cleaning. Her, her kids, her husband.

    After that day, that never blocked me again. I never even had to say a word. They moved out a few months after.

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