Sometimes living next door to an annoying resident can make the old adage “love thy neighbor” tough to live by. While we all want to live in peace with our neighbors, there are times when it is necessary to confront them about their behavior. Complaints between neighbors commonly involve loud noises, construction, threatening behavior, smells, pets, loud music, cleanliness, encroaching over property lines, or pests. With more people than ever staying at home all day to work or attend school remotely, the persistent sound of music, footsteps, or pets can result in potentially greater tension between neighbors.
In this article, we’ll explore a few ways of dealing with a pesky neighbor, including perhaps the best option—sending a cease and desist letter—which can be a reasonable middle ground between a courtesy conversation and an all-out legal battle. We’ll explain how you can have a lawyer send a cease and desist letter to an irritating neighbor for a low flat fee.
Talking With Your Neighbor
A friendly conversation with your neighbor is usually the best first step. With any action you take, you should keep in mind that you will need to live with your neighbor for some time, potentially many years. If there is a simple solution to the problem, you should explore it with your neighbor first. The neighbor may harbor animosity towards you if they feel they were never given a fair chance to rectify the situation. Often there may be a simple compromise, such as
“No loud music after 7:00 p.m.”
“Please conduct your home repairs during the hours I am not at home.”
We sometimes ascribe the worst intentions to annoying neighbors (especially if they’ve interrupted our sleep, work, or downtime), but they may not even be aware their actions are irritating you.
In the past, it may have been preferable to speak with your neighbor in person. However, given the current pandemic, it’s probably best to talk with them over the phone or through email. An old fashion handwritten note may also be appropriate if you don’t have the neighbor’s contact information. It’s a good idea to keep records of the events between you and your neighbor, including copies of any communications with the neighbor, in case a lawsuit ensues or third parties such as a landlord need to get involved.
Having Your Landlord, Building Manager, HOA or Co-Op Board Intervene
If a friendly chat with your neighbor doesn’t solve the issue, the next step may be contacting your landlord, building management, or HOA. The landlord or building manager can communicate with the neighbor and potentially fine them for violations of building rules or codes. The neighbor’s actions may also violate the terms of their lease. If that’s the case, the landlord may be able to give the tenant notice to either bring their actions into compliance or face eviction proceedings. If the neighbor’s actions are potentially dangerous to other residents’ health or safety, state and local law may demand that the landlord or board act.
Unless the neighbor’s actions are irrefutably illegal, however, landlords and building managers are often reluctant to get involved, especially if the neighbor is consistent in paying their rent. No landlord wants to be the arbiter of who was right and wrong between two tenants that are dutifully paying rent. Nevertheless, the landlord or building manager can sometimes act as a mediator between the two parties to resolve the issue and keep the peace. Some cities also offer more formal mediation programs for neighbors to avoid going to court. The downside to such medication programs is that both sides have to agree to participate, and there is usually a significant fee involved.
Sending a Cease and Desist Letter—the Goldilocks Solution
If having a cordial discussion with your neighbor hasn’t worked, or your landlord or building management has failed (or refused) to change your neighbor’s behavior, you have a few options to consider. Sending a cease and desist letter may be your best bet. Filing a lawsuit or alerting the authorities is another alternative but may have some perilous consequences, which we’ll discuss later on.
Sending a cease and desist letter is a happy medium between informal dialogue and seeking a court order or the intervention of local authorities. A short letter sent by an attorney sends a message to the neighbor that you’re serious about the issue and willing to take measures to ensure your right to live peacefully is maintained. When faced with a professional cease and desist letter sent by a lawyer, most people will reconsider their actions – no one wants to entangle themselves in a legal dispute.
Having a lawyer send a cease and desist letter, of course, costs money, which is the major deterrent for most people interested in this option. Fortunately, there’s now a way to get a cease and desist letter sent by an attorney for a low flat rate. Demand Letters can help you deal with a bad neighbor by connecting you with a lawyer who will draft and send a cease and desist letter on your behalf for one rate with no hidden fees or charges. In many cases, the neighbor will immediately stop their actions upon receiving a cease and desist letter.
Legal Action for Harassment
Sometimes the neighbor’s behavior will reach the legal standard of constituting harassment. The legal definition of harassment will vary depending on the state or jurisdiction where you live. One general definition is
“Harassment is a course of conduct which annoys, threatens, intimidates, alarms, or puts a person in fear of their safety.”
Harassment is unwanted, unwelcome, and uninvited behavior that demeans, threatens, or offends the victim and results in a hostile environment.
In these severe cases, it may be appropriate to contact an attorney or local law enforcement to resolve the issue. The difficult part of harassment cases is proving the other party is acting with an intent to cause the harassment. Attorneys and court costs can also add up quickly and be very expensive.
Of course, if the harassment is causing an immediate threat to your safety, the first thing to do is contact the authorities. You can work with the police to complete a criminal complaint and potentially get a protective order to stop the harassment.
Filing a court action or alerting the authorities for less severe situations is probably not a good first option for a few reasons. For starters, the result of a court proceeding can be unpredictable. There are no guarantees that you will be able to prove your case in court and obtain an injunction or temporary restraining order. In addition, legal fees for a drawn-out lawsuit can become exorbitant. Filing a lawsuit or prematurely alerting the authorities also risks unnecessarily antagonizing your neighbor further. They may decide to further entrench into their position and file counterclaims against you. The authorities will also generally only intercede in situations where it is clear the neighbor is breaking the law and will be reluctant to mediate a murky dispute where both sides are making accusations.
For these reasons, it’s always best to start by opening a dialogue with your neighbor. If that doesn’t work and your landlord or building management is also of no help, sending a cease and desist letter can be a great way to get immediate results without resorting to an expensive and drawn-out legal battle.
If your neighbor has been driving you crazy with their behavior and efforts to get them to stop have failed, Demand Letters can put you in touch with a lawyer that will send a cease and desist letter on your behalf. The letter will only cost you one flat rate. There’s no need to worry about billable hours, and it may solve your issue right away! You can get started today by clicking on the button below.