What Are My Property Rights Against My Neighbor?

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I own a condo, designed with a common front porch and common front walkway. The problem is the lady next door has allowed her drug-dealing, gun-toting convicted felon son move in following his most recent release from jail. He’s a forty-year old bully who has a hair trigger temper. All previous encounters with him have resulted in vandalism to my home, my porch, and damage to our cars. The first thing he did after moving in this time, was to take down every curtain in the place and cover all windows with newspaper. He’s been blocking access to my front door by parking his SUV across the walkway and against the porch. When I voiced my concerns about this strange behavior to our local police chief, I was told me…nothing to worry about, no big deal, guy’s free to live where he chooses. Once again, my family and I are subjected to hoards of visitors and loud noise all night long. In response my request to tone down the noise, I discovered a mound of cigarette butts on my door mat, along with fast food trash and empty beer cans. Recently, he started leaving milk, meat and other perishables in the middle of the porch, when I complained to the municipality, he put the food in a picnic cooler, where it still sits on the porch. He also has a month’s worth of filled garbage bags also sitting on the porch. Even though it’s mid-winter, the smell is disgusting. On trash day he plucks one bag and takes it to the curb, while adding more bags to the pile, when I complain he tells authorities these bags were just put out and will be picked up on next week’s trash day. Moving at this time, is not an option, and since local police seem to be afraid of him, what can I legally do to make sure my family and I stay safe?

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

There are probably a number of things you CAN do, but you should consider whether you should. I’ve often said that neighbor disputes are
kind of like a divorce, but worse because at the end you’re still neighbors.

If you have a condo, you probably have a condo association of some sort, with rules. These may be a bit more strict than the criminal
laws. For example, not having curtains may not be illegal, but it could subject you to fines by the HOA. You may need to go through some effort to make them enforce their rules, though.

You can continue to complain to the police and similar authorities. Sometimes, multiple complaints will get more of a response than an isolated one (though sometimes less).

You can see if there are any zoning or similar local ordinances that your neighbor is violating, and find the appropriate governmental authority (such as code enforcement) to enforce them.

However, you’ve already experienced some low-level retaliation. Unless you’re prepared to catch your neighbor in the act (and get the police to prosecute), you may be worse off.

Have you tried talking to the mother about this? Does she have any influence over her son? Or, you said moving is not an option. Perhaps you should reconsider that.

Good luck.

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Author: House Attorney