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‘My neighbors are throwing dog poop in my yard’

Dear Newsweek, I’m 73 years old and I live alone. I have owned the property for 34 years and 11 years ago, my neighbors from hell moved next door. They are in their 40s.

For for the first eight years, at least three or four times a week, I would have 10 to 30 or more kids in my front, side and backyards with the parents outside. They would be having parties and blocking my driveway at all hours of the day and night.

The dad used to walk through my backyard when he pleased so I rang his wife to complain. I have also called the police on a regular basis but that never did any good.

The police would talk to them but as soon as the officer would leave, they’d go right back into my yard. The kids would get bats and start hitting rocks and golf balls at my house. Then they would get mad because I called the police.

Dog yard
The woman is fed up with finding dog poop all over her yard, because of her neighbors. Stock image of a dog looking through a hole in the fence.
Nickbeer/Getty Images

The most recent incident occurred a few months back, I was working in my yard and found a lot of dog poop. I had seen the man shoveling dog poop in his yard the night before. I called the police and they told the police that my property line is wrong and that is their property and they can do what they want.

I even took my property survey to the police to prove my property line is where I said. They rent the property so they should have spoken with the landlord about the property line instead of being so mean and evil.

So finally after 11 years they get a citation and I built a privacy fence on their side only because at this time I can’t afford to fence all of my property. But the fence is extended almost all the way to front of my house, about 15 feet away from the curb.

Next time they decide to be a Karen, harass me, bully me or cause me any more mental stress we will be in court. After 11 years of hell it was time to get the owner of the property involved and I only communicate with him. I feel that at my age and with my health, I don’t need this kind of treatment and I need to find a way to legally deal with these people.

Ophelia, Unknown

Newsweek’s “What Should I Do?” offers expert advice to readers. If you have a personal dilemma, let us know via life@newsweek.com. We can ask experts for advice on relationships, family, friends, money and work and your story could be featured on WSID at Newsweek.

Get a Lawyer and Gather Concrete Evidence

Andrew A. Zashin is the managing partner of Zashin & Rich where he leads the firm’s family law and international family law practice groups. He has represented parties in some of the rare family law cases heard by the Supreme Court.

Dear Reader, I am sorry to learn of your situation. Sadly, what you are experiencing is more common than you might imagine. Unfortunately, the steps you have taken to appease your “neighbors from hell” have proven fruitless. I will suggest some additional actions.

First, document everything that happens in real time. If you see your neighbors shoveling dog feces into your yard, take a video of it. Take pictures. Telling anyone about what happened later is one thing. Proving what they did, capturing the offending parties in the act, with verifiable details of where and when—documenting the time and place with background or audio by calling out to them on video—is an entirely different matter altogether. Then, armed with this evidence, go to the police supervisor. It will be much harder to ignore a complaining citizen with concrete documentation.

Second, get a lawyer. Dealing with a matter like this should not be expensive. The cost, however, seems insignificant compared to the misery these neighbors are causing you. A simple letter from a lawyer manifesting your seriousness to neighbors, the police, and the landlord, may resolve the matter. Such a letter, putting the responsibility on the landlord to control his tenants, will take the burden off your shoulders and put that burden on the landlord, where it belongs. The landlord is the person, after all, who allowed these tenants to rent his or her property and behave like this in the first place.

Finally, your lawyer, armed with the video and photographic evidence you have already collected, is in a better position to file a lawsuit if necessary. It is realistic that your lawyer, either through negation or litigation, can recover your legal fees and expenses from the landlord. I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck.

File for a Stalking Protective Order

David I. Schachter, Esq. practices law at The Schachter Law Firm, LLC in Savannah, Georgia.

Dear Ophelia, I am sorry that you are dealing with this nightmare scenario. Ordinarily, I would first suggest that you attempt to reach out to the culprits and explain your concerns. Frequently, doing so can avoid unnecessary escalation or the need to resort to costly litigation and instead result in mutual respect and understanding. However, the degree of your neighbors’ outright disrespect and increasing boldness and contempt as evidenced by their actions, shows that your efforts to speak with the wife failed. You already took the logical next step and spoke to the property owner who should be concerned about his/her own liability. Based upon what has transpired thus far you need to take more drastic action.

First, I suggest you seek legal counsel and have an attorney write a forceful cease and desist letter to the culprit(s) threatening litigation should any further provocation occur. While this may not resolve the matter given the history, it will at least serve as documented evidence that you have, indeed, exhausted all alternatives, which can be valuable evidence when you are before a judge.

Second, there are legal actions you can take, though the procedure will vary in each State. In the State where I practice law, I would next suggest that a client swear out a Peace Bond in the appropriate court. This entails filing a Petition for a Peace Bond and an informal initial hearing with the Judge. The Judge would likely issue a Peace Bond ordering the other party to keep the peace and provide a future court date. Next, a more official hearing would occur in court with all parties present, at which time the Judge would decide whether to issue a more forceful Order. Further violation of an Order to keep the peace could result in jail time.

Finally, it appears that you are already aggrieved to the level where far more drastic action is appropriate. As such, I suggest that you ask counsel whether you can file a Stalking Protective Order. This entails filing a Petition for a Stalking Protective Order in the appropriate court and an informal meeting with a Judge to request that he/she grant relief. The initial Order is usually for an initial temporary period until a formal hearing can occur; however, at the formal hearing the Judge would decide whether to grant a more permanent Stalking Protective Order, which can be for a period of 12 months, or possibly longer. Any violation of such an Order is usually a felony and can result in incarceration.

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