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I have a very bad neighbor. What legal recourse do I have? I feel like I'm stumbling in the dark.

I find myself at a loss for an appropriate Stack Exchange site. Perhaps "workplace" or "parenting" are in the same vein, but I'm trying to figure out what to do (legally) about a terrible neighbor, so it isn't either of those... And Stack Exchange doesn't have a "interpersonal problems" site. Since legality is a concern, Stack Law seemed the logical choice to ask a question. Any better suggestions on QA forum and tags is appreciated.

I say my neighbor is bad because he:

  1. frequently calls false noise complaints on neighbors resulting in police action.
  2. stands in front of the building in a menacing way as people enter/exit.
  3. hates black people.
  4. hates Middle Eastern people and Muslims.
  5. constantly pounds on the floor/walls/ceilings.
  6. screams curses at children.
  7. Continues to park in handicap parking despite not being handicap, and receiving very expensive parking tickets.
  8. And to add to the list, I suspect he's been putting nails in my car tire, always on the same tire, on the inside wall of the tire; I just replaced my 5th tire in 3 months.

Despite several complaints to apartment management from 4 different residents, he has not been evicted, and most of my neighbors, whom I was friends with, have moved -- breaking their leasing contract to get away.

I want to place hidden cameras on my vehicle to catch him putting a nail in my tire.

I've approached my management several times to voice my concerns only to be stonewalled, which makes me wonder if there is something else going on, like witness protection (or they are just as terrified of him as everyone else). It may also be that each time the apartments contact him to voice their concern, he physically goes over there and basically has a tantrum, but without making direct threats. Most of the apartment staff are tiny women (shorter than 5ft).

When I asked if I could install a hidden camera to watch my car, I was told by management they wouldn't give permission, but also weren't not giving permission, and wished me luck trying to catch him on film.

If I install a hidden camera, is it legal, and could I contact the police/evict him/file a restraining order? Would that even be considered legal evidence, or would I be liable for unlawful surveillance?

Is there some sort of legal incentive I've not clearly communicated to management to evict him?

If he actually is insane, what sort of liability for his actions does he have?

I'm really just stumped and would like some advice from someone not emotionally close to the situation which could help guide my actions.

  • You're asking half a dozen different questions here, making the set too broad, and many of them are individually off-topic themselves. Talk to a lawyer in your jurisdiction. – Nij Nov 7 '16 at 1:19
  • @Nij if I narrow it down to "is it lawful to install a hidden camera on my car," would that be a good question? – NonCreature0714 Nov 7 '16 at 1:21
  • Then, you should first check that particular question hasn't been answered already. Assuming it isn't, it would be good and useful on its own. – Nij Nov 7 '16 at 1:26
  • @Nij ok, I'll post a new question; would it annoy if I keep this one here as reference from the other? – NonCreature0714 Nov 7 '16 at 1:36
  • Others may have some input as to what else can be done with it, and regardless, it wouldn't be removed any time soon. Let it float and see what else is said. – Nij Nov 7 '16 at 1:38
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I am sympathetic to your problem but there is probably not a legal solution: at least not an easy or cheap one. To help you clarify a whole mish-mash of issues I will address each of your points.

  1. frequently calls false noise complaints on neighbors resulting in police action.

If the person genuinely believes that these complaints are valid, even if they do not end up being substantiated, he is within his rights to make such complaints. If you can document an ongoing pattern of unproven complaints this might amount to harassment and you could then seek a court order that he stop the harassing behaviour. However, if even a few of these complaints are proven this would become much harder.

  1. stands in front of the building in a menacing way as people enter/exit.

He is entitled to stand wherever he likes in whatever "way" he likes. This is only an issue if the person entering/exiting has a reasonable fear that he will he will visit actual harm upon them, o, of course, if he actually does visit physical harm upon them. If so, then this is assault and can be reported to the police or be the basis of a civil action.

  1. hates black people.

So, he's a bigot - this is not actually illegal. Discriminating against someone on the basis that they are black is illegal, hating them on that basis isn't.

  1. hates Middle Eastern people and Muslims.

Ditto.

  1. constantly pounds on the floor/walls/ceilings.

It can't be "constantly" - it might be often or even frequently, if you intent to take legal action hyperbolic language is not going to aid your case. To make a real complaint about this you would need to diarise each occurrence.

Notwithstanding, unless he is damaging someone else's property or is violating a noise ordinance this is not illegal.

  1. screams curses at children.

Clearly reprehensible behaviour: not clearly illegal. Unless this is assault (see above) or qualifies as offensive behavior under the criminal code wherever you are (unlikely) then he can scream whatever he wants at whoever he likes. Again, a pattern of such behavior may constitute harassment.

  1. Continues to park in handicap parking despite not being handicap, and receiving very expensive parking tickets.

This is illegal and he is being punished for it. Unfortunately the expression Don't do the crime, if you can't do the time. has a corollary: if you are willing and able to take the punishment then you do as much crime as you want.

And to add to the list, I suspect he's been putting nails in my car tire, always on the same tire, on the inside wall of the tire; I just replaced my 5th tire in 3 months.

This is a crime. If you can get evidence to prove it then you can report him to the police and/or sue him for the damage.

You have stated in your comments that you will be asking another question specifically about filming him, so I won't address this here.

Is there some sort of legal incentive I've not clearly communicated to management to evict him?

That depends on if any of his actions are actually grounds for terminating his lease and, if they are, the landlord wants to do so. A remote landlord who is getting his rent on time and not having their property damaged has no incentive to evict a tenant: no matter how annoying they are to others.

It is possible, that you have a case for breaking your lease and/or suing your landlord for damages as you are not getting "quiet enjoyment" of the property. A suit along those lines may resolve the matter because either you or he will be evicted. Consult a lawyer.

If he actually is insane, what sort of liability for his actions does he have?

The same as anybody else. Liability for civil wrongs is an objective test of what a reasonable person would be liable for: it is not based on the specific characteristics of the person.

  • Thanks for clearly explaining the legality. It's unfortunate a person may be so unpleasant and get away with it. But it is mostly legal. – NonCreature0714 Nov 7 '16 at 18:33
  • "If you can get evidence to prove it then you can report him to the police": but even without evidence to tie him (or anyone else) to the crime, he can report the crime to the police. – phoog Nov 7 '16 at 19:17
  • @phoog tyres get nails in them all the time without human agency (criminal or otherwise) - it is likely bordering on certain that the police would not start a criminal investigation over this. – Dale M Nov 7 '16 at 21:37
  • @DaleM how does a nail get through the inside wall of a tire without someone putting it there? – phoog Nov 7 '16 at 21:43
  • 1
    @phong I work in construction and my tyres get nails in them all the time. Most are through the tread (and can be patched) but occasionally they do go through the wall (which means a new tyre). It is quite likely that in this case there is human agency involved but I've got my reasonable doubt right there. – Dale M Nov 7 '16 at 22:25

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