What Constitutes Harassment From a Neighbor and How to Stop It

Have you been having problems with your neighbor? Do you feel harassed by your neighbor? If so, you are not alone in this fight—according to a study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 13.5% of the participants reported neighbor harassment. The good news is that there are ways to put an end to this issue and get back to your life in peace and tranquility. 

To be able to take action against offensive behavior of this or any other kind, for a start, you should know what exactly constitutes that specific form of harassment. We are here to point to even the smallest signs of neighbor harassment that you should be on alert for, as well as suggest some of the most efficient solutions. 

Neighbor Harassment Laws

As soon as you begin to feel like your neighbor is harassing you, you should take action. Do not hesitate to do so because the law is on your side, so you can count on authorities to protect you from the abuser. Neighbor harassment laws protect people from every form of behavior that can be deemed offensive, derogatory, or even just annoying. You are also entitled to protection from violent behavior and threats of violence and assault. 

Whether it’s you or someone in your family that has been the victim of your neighbor’s problematic behavior, you have the right to ask for the perpetrator to be punished and bear the consequences of their actions. The consequences usually include the following:

  • Restraining order
  • Court-ordered injunction 

For specifics on how exactly a perpetrator is treated in your particular case, you will need to check out the neighbor harassment laws in your state and local area or hire a lawyer who is familiar with these regulations.

What Constitutes Harassment From a Neighbor

Neighbor harassment can be more or less alarming, but in any case, you should take action against it. That’s why it is crucial to answer the following question: what does it mean when someone is harassing you?

Even if the behavior isn’t that problematic yet, you shouldn’t wait for it to become more alarming before you do something about it

It is also crucial to know that any attack on either your property or yourself (or any other family member) calls for action. This is what counts as harassing behavior of a neighbor:

  1. Violence
  2. Physical assault
  3. Threats of violence or assault
  4. Aggressive and abusive behavior
  5. Abusive graffiti
  6. Unwelcome sexual comments or any other form of sexual harassment
  7. Damage to property
  8. Drug dealing in the communal area
  9. Operating noisy machinery for excessive amounts of time
  10. Other frequent disturbances

What Doesn’t Count as Neighbor Harassment

While some form of your neighbor’s unpleasant behavior may annoy you, you should know that it may not necessarily count as harassment. For the behavior to be described as harassing, there has to be proof of repeated and intentional wrongdoing. Here are some common things that neighbors might do that usually bother people, but are not considered harassment in legal terms:

  1. Saying insensitive things
  2. Playing loud music every once in a while
  3. Backing into your trash cans by accident
  4. Coming into your yard to play with your pet
  5. Cooking smelly food

How to Recognize Neighbor Harassment in Apartments?

As a paying tenant, you have every right to live in peace and quiet and not have to put up with any form of harassing behavior of your neighbors. So, should you notice that any of your neighbors break the restrictions imposed by your lease, it’s time to do something about it

Sharing a wall with a stranger can be quite problematic when that person has a lifestyle different from yours. Your neighbor might take long showers late at night or have some other annoying habits that can disrupt your life. When something like that happens, you should first try to talk about the issue in question with your neighbor. Tell them about what bothers you and ask them politely to change their behavior. 

If you notice that the person next-door continues doing whatever it is that bothered you even after you asked them not to, it means that they are doing it on purpose. Your neighbor’s intention to annoy you or disrupt your life in any way is a clear sign that you are the victim of harassment. As soon as you realize that, you should take more drastic measures to fight back against the perpetrator. 

Forms of Neighbor Harassment in a Building

People face different forms of neighbor harassment, so you should be familiar with the most common examples to know how to spot problematic behavior early enough. Depending on where you live, some forms of wrongdoing might not even be possible, but it still doesn’t hurt to learn more about as many as possible to be able to act before it’s too late. Here are the most common forms of harassing behavior to keep in mind:

Noise

Living next to a loud neighbor can be a real nightmare. The noise your neighbor makes can be particularly annoying if it bothers you during the quiet hours determined by your lease or your city’s laws. Even if it’s not during the quiet hours, the noise may go above every acceptable level, which is not something you should put up with.

Misuse of the building

When you live in a building, you share the property with several other tenants, so it can easily happen that you don’t agree on the meaning of proper usage of the building. For instance, your neighbor might smoke in the building, and the smell can even reach your apartment, which is particularly annoying if you don’t smoke.

Property damage

Sharing your wall with a neighbor means that almost everything that happens in their apartment affects you. For instance, an overflowing kitchen or bathroom sink in the flat above can easily damage your apartment and belongings. This can be just an accident, but if it happens repeatedly and your neighbor refuses to do what needs to be done to solve the issue, their behavior can be treated as harassment.

Harassing phone calls

Tenants of the same building often exchange numbers to be able to communicate with each other about common-area problems. If you give your number to the wrong neighbor, they may end up harassing you. 

Stalking

Stalkers can make every day a nightmare even if they never do anything to wrong you. Even cyber stalking can be highly uncomfortable, let alone if you become a victim of a stalker in person. If you notice that your neighbor is following you, you need to act fast and explore ways to stop a stalker to be able to continue with your life without the discomfort every time you leave your apartment.  

How to Fight Noise Harassment From a Neighbor?

One of the most common forms of neighbor harassment is disturbance by noise. According to a study by BMC Public Health, neighbor noise annoyance can even be associated with various mental and physical health issues. When your neighbor disrupts your comfort by being loud or playing loud music, it’s time to do whatever you can to solve that issue and avoid further complications. 

For a start, you need to talk with your neighbor to see if you can agree on quiet hours. If it happens that your neighbors don’t respect your agreement, you should politely remind them to stick to it. If the noise continues, you can talk to your landlord about the problem in question and ask for help. In the meantime, you might want to consider using a white noise machine to help you calm down.

Don’t be surprised if your landlord doesn’t fix the problem, either. When it comes to problematic neighbors, in most cases, only the police or some other authoritative body can force them to change their harassing behavior.

What Can You Do If Your Neighbor Is Harassing You?

When it comes to neighbor harassment, things can easily get out of control, and you may end up in an even greater problem. After you gather enough evidence by documenting harassment, it’s time to take action, and here’s what you can do to put an end to any form of harassing behavior from your neighbor:

  • Turn to your landlord if you rent your place
  • Ask for a restraining order against the neighbor
  • File a police report
  • File a noise complaint
  • Sue the neighbor for harassment

Turn to Your Landlord if You Rent Your Place

In addition to noise harassment, you should turn to your landlord for any other problem you might be having with your neighbors. Here are some things your landlord might do to protect you:

  • Change the locks
  • Buy vandal-proof letterboxes and fences
  • Install a security alarm system

Ask for Restraining Order Against Neighbor

If you begin to feel like your safety or the safety of any family member is jeopardized, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask for a restraining order. If you’re not sure whether this is enough to protect yourself and your loved ones, here’s what the restrained person will be forbidden to do:

  1. Establish any contact with you or your family
  2. Be near you or your family members no matter where you are
  3. Be close to your workplace or your children’s school
  4. Own a gun 

File a Police Report

In the case of physical violence or just a threat of violence or another form of threat, it’s time for you to go to the police. When you file a report, you can expect police officers to visit you and other neighbors to gather more details about the reported problem or take photographs if needed. If the situation is alarming, the police may be able to take immediate action to protect you.

File a Noise Complaint

If your problem with the neighbor in question is the constant noise they’re making, you can file a noise complaint against that person. What’s important to note here is that you need to contact the police while the noise is in progress. Otherwise, you will be required to have some proof of harassment. You don’t have to tolerate anything—even if it’s just a noisy malfunctioning air-conditioner that’s bothering you, you can file this complaint if your neighbor refuses to repair the device. 

Sue Neighbor for Harassment

If nothing else works, you should sue your neighbor for the harassing behavior. When it comes to this step, many people decide to turn to a lawyer for help. Depending on the way your neighbor harassed you, the case might be even treated as a criminal matter, so you need a reliable lawyer by your side. If your neighbor didn’t commit any crime, then it will be a civil lawsuit.

In case you’ve already tried to stop your neighbor from harassing you by asking for a restraining order or injunction, but the person violates either of the two, you can sue them for the violation. 

How to Prove Harassment by Neighbor?

Unless you want to report harassing behavior while it’s in progress, you will need to have proof of the problem if you decide to sue the neighbor in question. To have evidence, you will need to document harassment taking place. The police or the judge can’t take anything you say for granted.

How to Document Neighbor Harassment?

Even if your neighbor doesn’t show signs of harassing behavior yet, but it feels like it could become so, you shouldn’t hesitate to document the problem. 

To be on the safe side, keep the record of any unpleasant behavior that disrupts you, so if needed in a lawsuit, you’ll have firm evidence that you’re telling the truth. Here are some ideas on how you can document neighbor harassment:

Notes

As soon as you realize that your neighbor’s behavior even borders on harassment, you should start taking notes as proof. Not only should you note what the neighbor is doing that disturbs you, but you should also keep a note of actions that you took to try to solve this problem.

Photos, audio recordings, videos

Depending on how your neighbor is harassing you, you can use your phone to take photos or make videos of harassment taking place. If your neighbor is yelling at you, an audio recording can be enough to document the harassing behavior. If the person in question damages your property, then you’ll have to take photos.

Witnesses

If you have anyone who’s witnessed your neighbor’s harassing behavior, you should have that person confirm your claims against the perpetrator. This can be a family member or, better yet, another neighbor. It would be better to have someone outside of the family as a witness to be an impartial third party.

Police reports

Police reports also count as evidence that you have been the victim of neighbor harassment and that you’ve already turned to authorities looking for protection. Even though you’d probably avoid filing a lawsuit, you should be prepared for it, just in case, so never throw away any of the police reports.

Don’t Know How to Stop Neighbor Harassment? Let DoNotPay Help You

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If you’re having trouble stopping neighbor harassment, you shouldn’t hesitate to rely on DoNotPay to give you a hand. We understand how upset you must be, so we’ve created an efficient solution that will help you put an end to harassing behavior in just a few steps. Here’s what you should do:

  1. Log in to your account via the web browser or an iOS device
  2. Go to Relationship Protection section
  3. When the chatbot asks you to choose one option, click on Safety and Stalking
  4. Provide the name of the perpetrator
  5. Let DoNotPay provide you with a cease and desist letter to be sent to the perpetrator, demanding an immediate stop of all harassing actions

Not only is this letter important in making the person in question stop harassing you, but it can also serve as evidence if needed in the future. The cease and desist letter proves that you did your part of the job in trying to solve the issue before moving forward with the case.

What Else Can DoNotPay Help You With?

DoNotPay will be more than happy to help you put an end to the issue with your neighbor or any other form of disturbance, but that’s not all we can do—we have a wide range of other services that you can use. Our app is designed to help people deal with everyday problems and get the justice they deserve, so we’ve got you covered

All you need to do is create an account on DoNotPay and log in via the web browser or your iOS device. Once you’re in, you can choose from our wide array of solutions, including the following: