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Can You Sue Your Neighbor For Harassment?

Disputes between neighbors can disturb the peace of the entire community. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you feel uncomfortable around your neighbor or their behavior is inappropriate or threatening, you can take legal action. 

The primary legal action you can take is to file a police report against your neighbor for harassment. An official police report record can aid you in legal action against your neighbor. 

What qualifies as harassment?

It is crucial to have an understanding of what qualifies as harassment. For instance, if your neighbor accidentally damages your property, such as hitting your fence while driving, it does not qualify as an act of harassment. Harassment is intentional and continual verbal or physical abuse. Here are some general guidelines on what qualifies as harassment by a neighbor: 

  • Discriminative and offensive comments during your interactions with your neighbor.
  • Repeatedly doing something you have asked your neighbor to stop doing, such as creating excessive noise via music or loud machinery at nighttime. 
  • Calling the authorities on you for a small and insignificant mistake or accident. 
  • Trespassing or unbidden guests to your property after you have asked them not to. 
  • Bothering your children or pets even after you have warned them. 
  • Misconduct of shared property. 
  • Invading your privacy, such as stalking you at your property. For instance, they are always found near your house or on your property uninvited.  
  • Harming you physically over a small dispute. 
  • Repeatedly threatening to harm you or your family. 
  • Being aggressive or abusive to you. 
  • Making inappropriate or sexual comments. 

How to Sue Your Neighbor for Harassment 

Get a Restraining Order

Before a trial, you can request the court for a restraining order by providing reasonable evidence that your neighbor is harassing you. The restraining order can allow the police to take action against your neighbor if your safety is at risk. 

If your request for a restraining order is approved, you should keep a copy of it with you at all times until the court gives a final verdict on your neighbor's harassment case. If your neighbor violates the restraining order, they can be in contempt of court and face serious consequences.  

Take the Issue to Court

You can take the issue to a local court to sue your neighbor for harassment. You can represent yourself in a local court, which is also known as a small claims court. However, it may take some time to prove that your neighbor is guilty of harassment. 

You should provide strong evidence of harassment to win the case against your neighbor. If you do not have enough knowledge regarding legal matters, you can get the help of a professional attorney. 

Getting Evidence 

If your neighbor is being offensive or you are a victim of any form of neighbor harassment, ensure that you do not engage or respond the same way to their inappropriate behavior. You should keep your distance and document any proof of harassment. 

Use your cell phone to record whatever they do around you. Ensure that you have an entry of the time and date of the harassment. You can write it down in a notebook. You can share the evidence with your attorney if you decide to get professional legal representation for the case. 

As mentioned earlier, filing a police report against your neighbor helps you build a strong case and can be used as evidence in court. 

What to Expect in a Harassment Lawsuit

Here is what you can expect from a harassment lawsuit: 

  • You can submit evidence of your neighbor’s unwelcome or inappropriate behavior. 
  • A discussion with your attorney regarding the case, police investigations, and court hearings. 
  • Testifying in court. Be ready to answer personal questions that are relevant to the case. 
  • You and your neighbor can settle the case outside court before the case goes to trial. 
  • Your neighbor can receive a restraining order and could receive felony charges if they violate the restraining order. 
  • You need to be prepared for the potential expiration of the restraining order. Consult your attorney on what steps you can take to ensure your safety after the restraining order expires.  

Hire a Lawyer 

The type of lawyer you need to contact depends upon the nature of the harassment that took place. For instance, if your neighbor harassed you due to a shared property dispute, you can hire a real estate attorney. 

If it is a small dispute that involves a continuous annoying or irrational behavior of your neighbor, it can be a civil case. If your neighbor commits a crime, such as stalking or any other threats to your privacy or safety, you can hire a criminal law attorney to represent you in the criminal case. 

If the harassment case involves a dispute with your renters or landlords, it is best to hire a landlord-tenant law attorney. An experienced professional can help you collect evidence and inform you regarding all legal proceedings of the case.