21 answers

Neighbor Harassment?

I am currently having issues with one of my neighbors. A little background info:

I run a small daycare out of my and only have at most 4 daycare kids at one time(2 FT, 2PT). We our renting and have lived here for 1.5 years and have been running my daycare since we moved in. My property manager is aware that I run a daycare. I have one 2 year old daughter who is home with me and a 6 year old son who is in school all day. We don't know our neighbors, and had only spoken briefly to the husband once since we moved in. They are about 40ish and don't have kids, nor want any.

The Story (Sorry this is long):

The first incident we had was back in October, when a 3yo boy I watch had thrown some rocks over the fence and hit their window. She came over and informed me of the incident and I apologized and told her I would take care of the problem. This was the first time I had ever spoken to the women.

Fast forward to February...The doorbell rings. A Police officer is on the other side of the door. Apparently one of my daycare kids had thrown a small bubble bottle with some rocks in it over the fence. Instead of notifying me, she had called the cops to complain about the item thrown over the fence and supposedly the kids were too loud. This was about 10:30 in the morning. She had told the officer that she had tried to be neighborly and resolve this supposed issue, but to no avail. Keep in mind I have only spoken to this woman once 4 months ago.

A few days later I get another knock on the door. Its the code inspector from the town telling me that 'someone' had informed them that I was running an unlicensed daycare. I knew I was legal under the state guidelines running my daycare, but was not aware that I need to have a license from the town. He was very nice, and just gave me a form to send in along with a small fee to get my license, which I was approved and sent a few weeks later.

I then receive and email from my property manager a couple weeks later addressing complaints he had received. He didn't tell me who, but was aware that I knew who it was. He told me that because of the complaints he was investigating, i.e. speaking with the HOA, talking to neighbors, pulling any police reports. So I called him back and explained everything that was going on.

Then 2 weeks ago, the doorbell rings. It’s the same officer from a month prior. He said that that another call had been made about the kids being too loud. This was at 9:15am. He had recieved the call 45min prior (8:30ish) but was unable to make it out right away from being tied up in an accident. After finding out when the call came in, my daycare kids had just arrived 10min prior to the call to the police. He said because there was a call he was obligated to come out. I asked him about the noise ordinances and he didn't give me a definitive answer. I asked him was any crime commented and was I being cited for anything, he said no. I had done nothing wrong. I seemed to get a vibe that he was annoyed that he had to come back out. I thanked him for coming out, and apologized that he was being called for such a frivolous matter and that this is a situation that could have been dealt with by both neighbors amicably.

Later that day I get an email from my property manager again. He says he would like to come out and inspect this property. The neighbors had again contacted him to complain, and they had also started contacting the owners of the home that live in Colorado (We are in Arizona) and complaining. He says that he has found no other complaints but wants to put the matter to rest by making sure the property is still in good condition, so he can send them a letter saying that he found no evidence of wrong doing and please stop the complaints, in a nice way.

So, yesterday my property manager comes out inspects the home, finds it in great condition, even complimented us on the color we are painting the interior (It was bland white before). He told me he would get the letter sent out that day. A few hours later, my PM calls me - more drama. It's not going to be as cut and dry as we had hoped. He found out that the neighbors had filed more complaints to the HOA. They were again complaining about the noise and now that I have a business license, they are complaining that I supposedly cannot run a business from my home per HOA rules. Keep in mind that I can name at least 3 people just on my street that run a home business, including my neighbor across the street that teaches piano. My PM told me that he has requested a copy of the CCR's and will look into it and let me know what happens.

I am getting fed up with our neighbors antics and am starting to feel like this is harassment, but don't know what to do. We don't want to move and I know my PM is trying everything he can to keep us here. What should I do? My daycare allows me to stay home and I don't want/need to give it up. I have informed all the parents of what is happening and they are supporting me.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I agree with killing them with kindness. It sounds like these people have nothing better to do than to cause trouble for you. Beleive me, I deal with these type of people all of the time. My supervisor for instance. She's been trying to make working hell for eight years...very long years....and I'm still here. I refuse to leave my job based on her behavior. If I leave, it is because I choose to...not because someone chased me out. Stay strong.

This is exactly why I hate HOAs. Sounds like you will have to move...hopefully to a more kid friendly neighborhood next time :)

More Answers

They don't want the daycare next door to them. No doubt, they feel they were there first and they are determined to move you and/or your business out.

I would not communicate with them without an adult witness. I wouldn't try to send them any "peace offerings". If the HOA code allows the daycare to stay (some business types maybe allowed while others are not), then once this current issue is resolved, my advice is to hire an attorney. All communication should then go through that attorney. You should treat them as you would anyone who is trying to gather dirt on you and sue you.

Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful

I agree that you should have some type of security camera system in place. Or, just have the video cam out as much as possible for the pick ups, drop offs, and when the kids are playing in the yard.
Be proactive. Document everything that goes on so it's not your word against anyone elses.
I have to say I'd be pretty pissed if little kids were throwing rocks and things to hit my windows or my car. But I would deal with the adult instead of the police unless the adult obviously had no intention of stopping the behavior.

I would ask the police how you can file charges for harrassment. If you're not violating city noise ordinances, if your licensing is current, why are you constantly being turned in to the point of your neighbors contacting out of state owners? They pay the property manager to manage what you do. Since when is it the neighbor's business?

I would just start video taping everything. Inside and outside so that you can show you aren't doing anything but having kids at your house. Little kids love being video-ed so they won't think anything of it.
Have the time and date stamp on the recordings so if the neighbor says at 8:30am it was too noisy....you have proof it wasn't.

I would venture to say if they aren't careful and you can prove harrassment and you lose your house/business, you might be able to sue them for interfering with the natural and normal course of your daily life. There is a statute about it.
I'm not saying to sue them, but just have proof that they are the nut cases and protect yourself. Have your proof and sooner or later, the police won't even bother to respond and have a talk with them about bothering them for nothing.

Hang in there. Document everything.

Best wishes.

3 moms found this helpful

Here is what I would do, it seems they don't wish to talk to anyone face to face just make trouble. The next time(I hope there is not a next time) that an officer knocks at your door ask if he will invite the complaintent to a meeting at the police station once you are free of your charges and do this everytime there is an unwarranted visit from an officer. Meet in front of the officer and ask to hear the full complain calmly from your neighbor. No accusatory, voice raising, just calm curiosity. EX: I am curious about your complaint made against me today. Could you in your words tell me if there is anything else our family has done that has caused you an inability to utilize your property, damage to your property, or extra work for you and your property? I would appreciate a direct contact in the future, Thank you. If they have to go down to the station everyday they call, they will soon tire of it unless there actually is a legit complaint, if so they will show, if the officers think they are calling wolf, they will stop it.

2 moms found this helpful

I know it might be tough, but try keeping the kids indoors for two weeks straight, and see if they still call the cops and file complaints. Keep records proving the kids have not been outside.

I had a neighbor like this about our dogs. We had 2, and never let them outside...even though the neighbor claimed they were in our yard barking all day.

He finally got a warning from the police for making false reports. They started camping outside our house for about two weeks straight when he'd call, and when they found the dogs never barking let alone outside, they stuck it to him. We haven't been bothered since.

2 moms found this helpful

Not that I am siding with the awful neighbors BUT.. I can see (sort of) why a homeowner would not want a rental neighbor moving in and setting up a daycare next door. I don't really understand it, but a lot of homeowners don't like renters. Renters have this bad rep as bringing down property values. So you have that working against you. Then the fact that you have a daycare next to a childless couple is against you too. You don't know why they are childless, but maybe they have some reason to be bitter. And some people just love drama and will thrive on this kind of situation. It is awful for you that you got stuck being their target.

I agree that you need to set up a camera or something. I think you can get them fairly cheap these days, and it might be a good idea to have video evidence of what goes on on your premises for a variety of liability reasons. And maybe (fingers crossed) just the knowledge that you are documenting what is going on with irrefutable evidence will be enough to stop the neighbors' complaints.

I think hiring an attorney to write a cease and desist letter is a good idea too. Especially after you have gotten all your documentation together. You will need that for the lawyer to write a good letter, and if you go with video footage, they really have no ground to stand on. Talk to the police about what your rights are as far as harrassment goes next time they get called. Be VERY NICE to the police at all times, you want them on your side. Also, can you talk to your other neighbors? Maybe they will be willing to back you up with a letter or something, stating that you don't let wild children run willy nilly all over the neighborhood. Whatever you do, I think you need to be proactive, not just sit and wait for the next thing to happen or hope they give it up. They are not going to, and honestly, if he HOA doesn't work out for them, thier next step is likely going to be CPS. You don't child protective service coming to your house with a complaint. And if they do, you want the harrassment documentation in place already so they can see the situation for what it is. Don't ever let your guard down and do anything that could get you in trouble.

It is definitely harrassment and unfortunate that whatever you do about it is going to cost you money. It will probably be worth the investment. You need to protect yourself. If you move there is no guarantee you won't have the same issue. If things don't work out and you have to move and the property manager/owners try to be unfair to you about the lease terms, keep in mind that you weren't provided with a copy of the CCR's and the PM knew about your business. That might allow you to get out of fees or forfeits of deposits, at least. Good luck, I hope things work out. Let us know what happens.

2 moms found this helpful

There's no doubt it's harassment. The HOA might work for or against you. Keep in mind some of them are pretty insane, and I have no idea which kind you are dealing with. My sister ultimately had to move after her HOA tried to order her to remove her fence (to keep her dogs in her yard) by making a new rule and then trying to retroactively say she had no right to have the fence installed in the first place. It was not against the rules when she installed it, but they were going to be nasty about it anyway. The HOA meetings were full of yelling and drama. It was just not a healthy neighborhood situation. I hope it turns out better for you, but you might want to look around at another property to rent just in case this whole thing goes sour.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi C.,

You've had some great advice, I agree that you should document things. I like the idea of trying to be kind to the lady even though she's being rude. You never know how seeing you as a real person instead of just "that neighbor" could change her outlook. Of course it probably won't, but it doesn't hurt to try.

The only thing I have to add is that if you do video tape the kids, just make sure their parents know and you have signed consent. They could hit you really hard on that one, unfortunately.

I'm sorry this is happening to you, it sounds like a very frustrating circumstance. I hope it will be fixed before long! Good luck!

E.

1 mom found this helpful

I would think this is harrassment. Is there any way you can put up a video camera from before the kids come to about an hour after? They seem to be targeting that time frame. Maybe then you could prove that you are doing nothing wrong. What about the other neighbors?

1 mom found this helpful

It definitely sounds like harassment. I would encourage you to discuss it with a lawyer. Usually the initial meeting is a free consultation and you would at least know what your options would be. I don't recall the legal jargon for this type of behavior, but perhaps a lawyer could send them a letter that if this behavior doesn't stop, you will pursue legal action against them. Hopefully a letter would be sufficient. You should certainly be able to run your daycare in your home. It sounds like you have done what is legally necessary.

Good luck!

As much as it galls me to say this, I would seriously consider moving out if I were you. On principle, it's the worst thing you could do. On principle, you should stay and fight these bullies until the bitter end, teach them a lesson, yada yada yada.

But realistically? These people seem to know what they're doing (probably because they've done it before) and are fairly committed to making your life hell for as long as it takes. So you really need to ask yourself if you want to deal with their drama for the next year....or ten!!

There are many of us that are stuck with crappy neighbors (and even crappier mortgages) because we "own" our houses and couldn't sell right now if our lives depended on it. But you have a choice. You can be free of these schlubs forever with just a moving truck and a few strong guys.

Is there a chance that you'll run into a similar couple in your new
neighborhood? Maybe, but it's a fat one. People this special just don't come along every day...

I would call a lawyer and have him write them a letter stating that you will take legal action if they do not stop harrassing and slandering you. Another idea; Involve a mediator.
Good Luck

what a nightmare.
just to keep your sanity try and keep the kids inside until like 10. apparently they don't work and want to sleep.

All I can say is run like heck. Get out as soon as you can. You will find yourself in a never ending legal battle with them. They will continue to make your life a nightmare. They most likely will not stop.
Just be happy to you do not own the home, they could be the reason the property is a rental.

This seems like too much drama for a rental home. Keep in mind these are not just tenants in a neighboring office complex, but they are your neighbors 7 days a week. If cops were called because of constant noise parties by young kids, the homeowners would evict them so quickly it wouldn't be funny. It might soon be too much work for the homeowners to be dealing with you and the neighbors, so he might want to terminate the relationship.

However, if you keep your house and yard nice, I don't get why they are so crazy. If you moved out, the house would be vacant and get trashed, and the next neighbors could be worse.

Can you afford a lawyer?
Maybe go to your neighbor. Tell her in person what you are doing. Then tell her that you intend to sue her for harrassment. Go to the HOA and let them know you are being harrassed. Next time the policeman comes let him know too that you are taking the matter to court on harrassment charges.
I'm sure you are trying your best to play by the rules but the bottom line is this neighbor is being just mean, this is an adult bully. It's time to step it up and get authorities involved on your side.
Good luck.

Many of us have had the neighbor's from hell. Sure, you could move and per your CC&R's, you may have to, as a result. Fact is, you may not like this, but if you are not allowed to run a business, you very well may have to move OR give it up. You may know others that have the same business, but they may not have the same problem (bad neighbor) as you.

Try to put yourself in your neighbor's shoes. They may not like kids. Okay, fair enough. They have to listen to your kids make racket all day. I love kids, but hey, they can get noisy.

My kid threw a rock over the neighbor's fence the other day and she was none to happy about it. She said "Don't let them do it again!" So, after reading your comment, it seems it started with a similar incident.

You could go over and just talk to them. Be nice. Be pleasant. Take a batch of (store bought pastries or something...just to show you are neighborly!) It's ONLY a thought. Anyway, talk to them and ask them how you can work together to best resolve this situation. Be willing to listen.

You have kids that have obviously thrown items over the fence 2x. What if someone was hit...a pet, a person?? Again, put yourself in their shoes. Ensure their is nothing that can be thrown over the fence. Perhaps schedule a morning walk to the park, if they seem to complain about noise the same time in the day. Remind them that kids do enjoy playing and they have high energy...you can't control that! However, is there a time they are more sensitive to the children playing outside?

But, the point is, ask them what they would like to do, to work with you...that you want to be a good neighbor. You take care of kids in the daytime and it allows you to be a stay at home mom. They may understand that.

That's my suggestion.

If it doesn't work out...well, I would consider ignoring it otherwise. Seriously. (Allow them no more rent space in your head!) You are fully compliant - legally. Your PM knows you have the biz. Sounds like the only issue now is the HOA CC&R's and that could be an issue. Fact is, it's easy to find out. Call them up and ask. Keep the noise down AND be respectful of your neighbor's low noise tolerance. Simple! Plan a walk to the park...kids gets exercise and they can run, jump, scream, etc! (If there is an HOA, chances are there may be a park in your community.) Oh, and lastly, don't give your neighbor's any more ammo like rocks being thrown over the fence.

Lastly, if those neighbors are thorough, and it sounds like they are...make sure you are fully compliant in all matters, including taxes and whatever else is required...

First, you need to find out if your HOA allows home daycares and has a ~written~ policy in effect. I would do this myself and not leave it up to your PM. It would have been your responsibility to check with the HOA before starting your daycare to see if rules existed regarding this since you are the one residing in the house and in the neighborhood. If there is NO policy I would suggest getting a member of the HOA to draft a short letter and send it to your neighbor stating that you are not violating HOA regulations by running a daycare AND also have your PM draft a letter to the neighbor and tell her the same thing. I am an officer of my neighborhood HOA and we don't have a specific policy regarding home daycares, you must follow the law and requirements set up by the city is our take on it. I don't think I would go onto her property and try to talk to her, it seems if she is this upset about your daycare business, etc. you might be adding 'fuel to the fire' and she might try to call the police on you for trespassing.

I guess bad neighbors are everywhere then, huh? The funny thing is that I live behind an in-home daycare and the noise of the joyous children in the AM delights me. Even if they're fighting a bit, they're just little kids. The neighbor's barking dogs annoy me more than the daycare kids!

I have an abusive neighbor family or two, too. Our opinions differ on how to do things, which has led to the harassment of my son which got so out of hand that he threatened to get a gun, and is now "the bad guy," which is totally unfair to me. The cop threatened that the family he threatened can press charges and I said that that's fine, we'd be pressing harassment charges then, too.

It's all ugly and I just don't believe ends here. The worst part is the cop told me I can't call the police since I live in a nice neighborhood and would have to deal with my neighbors myself. Great. I'm looking up information on how to do that. A recorder is advised. Perhaps you can record your kids in daycare to prove that they're not making undo noise?

This is exactly why I hate HOAs. Sounds like you will have to move...hopefully to a more kid friendly neighborhood next time :)

I agree with killing them with kindness. It sounds like these people have nothing better to do than to cause trouble for you. Beleive me, I deal with these type of people all of the time. My supervisor for instance. She's been trying to make working hell for eight years...very long years....and I'm still here. I refuse to leave my job based on her behavior. If I leave, it is because I choose to...not because someone chased me out. Stay strong.

File harassment charges. It appears that every time this person/couple complains it is well documented (police report, HOA complaints, PM complaints, building/code inspector... they all have paperwork associated with their visits.) 6 visits in 5 months... definitely excessive! Get copies of the documents to support your charges... you can even be nice if you want and send them a nice letter stating should another silly complaint be made without trying to clear it up with you that you will file charges... at least that way you won't be doing the same thing as your neighbor.

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