Illustration for the article titled When to Call the Police on Your Neighbors - and When Not toPhoto: alexfan32 (Shutterstock)

Who of us didn’t have to live in close proximity to a loud, inconsiderate, rude, or even violent neighbor? I’ve shared many walls in my life (even now, I live in a duplex), and on the other side of those walls were a number of characters.

There was the family who liked to leave sacks on garbage bags outside for weeks or months (on a shared porch in the stifling Arizona heat). We suspected pretty heavy drug use there too, and apparently the guy accidentally shot himself in the hand once. After them we were delighted to have the cute old lady who let her dog shit right on our doorstep, followed by the young man who played video games all hours of the night (with a subwoofer because it wasn’t enough to keep that up hear – we had to feel it too). And now we have the couple who get into the occasional but epic fights.

To a certain extent, much of it is exactly what has to do with the territory of the near life. But sometimes the music gets too loud for too long or the argument gets so heated that you start to think it’s time to intervene. And hey, that’s what the police are for, right? Enforce laws and regulations and protect community members? Unfortunately, we know all too well how a well-meaning phone call to the police about a minor problem can quickly escalate and lead to unnecessary injury or even death.

However, there are situations when you need to call the police. However, before you pick up the phone, there are a few things to keep in mind and tips to offer when you are facing some of the most common reasons we call the police on our neighbors.

Minor nuisances and eyesores

Weeds and grass as big as your children; the rusted old car that has been parked in the same spot on the street for years; Trees so overgrown that they block the view of the traffic; Outside of “storage” which is really just a pile of junk – all of these things can feel like minor nuisances at first and eventually lead you to a full tantrum. But as frustrating as they are, these matters are not police matters.

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Your first step, however awkward, is to talk to your neighbor. Don’t do it on a day when you feel particularly angry about the problem. Have a cup of tea, meditate a little, and then walk over with your calmest, friendliest demeanor.

First, offer help. Is it your responsibility to mow another homeowner’s grass, take away their old trash, or cut their trees? No of course not. But it could be that the reason they don’t is because they don’t have the right equipment, that they are overwhelmed with work, or that they have an old back injury that flares up every time they try to tackle them. Using the unruly grass example, if you need a mower but can’t afford a new one, you can offer to borrow yours after you’ve mowed your own grass, or help them find a used one that someone will sell locally .

If they can’t physically do the job and you’re not willing to hold on to it, maybe you can help them find a neighborhood teen they can pay to mow once a week. Setting them up on a schedule will automate the work for them and solve the problem. Whatever the hassle, assume they need help.

If you’ve tried this and made it clear to them that they don’t want your help, your next step is to unite your homeowners (if you have one). A HOA has rules and regulations that every homeowner must follow. If they break these rules, the association may issue notices instructing them to resolve the problem within a specified period of time or to face a fine.

If they don’t want your help and you don’t have an HOA, the next stop (if you want to pursue this further) may be to investigate if you have access to it Community mediation in your area and whether it makes sense for your situation. In community mediation, a neutral third party can work with individuals to find a peaceful solution.

When you’ve exhausted all other options, contact the government officials in your city or county to enforce their local laws and regulations.


At some point in our lives (I’m looking at you college) we might have been the people who messed up the neighborhood with our late night parties and silly loud music. But now we’re old and need every minute of sleep we can get, and who the hell is up at this hour?

We wrote about it how to deal with noisy neighbors in the past, but here’s a quick rundown of the steps you should take:

  • Talk to them: Chances are they may not even realize that they are too loud or that it is affecting your life in some way, such as by making a noise. B. by disturbing your child’s sleep.
  • Propose a plan or a compromise: If the noise is a persistent problem (such as “tape practice” in the garage late at night), you may be able to agree to a shutdown time.
  • Think about possible solutions: There may be ways to reduce the noise in your house (wireless headphones, anyone?). If you have any ideas, now is the time to propose them.
  • Give them at least one warning before you escalate: If none of this worked and you report the noise to your landlord, management company, HOA, or – in extreme cases – the police, one final heads-up could be what makes them take it seriously.
  • Talk to your landlord, your management company or your HOA: If the warning didn’t work, it’s probably time to speak to someone about it. Prepare with a list of specific examples, including the dates and times when the noise was particularly bothersome.
  • As a last resort, contact the police: Show that you have tried several ways to resolve this problem yourself and report it by calling your department’s phone number, which is not an emergency call – not 911.

((Read more about each of these steps here.)

Arguments and Domestic Violence

Okay, this is the big one and the one that you probably feel conflicted about the most. When you hear an escalating argument, and especially when you hear other noises, such as For example, screaming, hitting, crashing, or the sound of things breaking, every instinct within you may want to call for help. But as Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, says HuffPostIf you don’t believe someone’s life is in danger, dialing 911 can do more harm than good.

Even if your intentions are good, it is impossible to know without further information whether the victim wants police intervention or whether the police could do further harm, she said.

Many survivors choose not to involve the police for a number of reasons: They may be undocumented or fear that the police will harm or even kill their partner – especially if they are black or brown. You may be concerned about being arrested yourself. You can rely on your partner’s income. They may worry about being evicted due to harassment laws that punish victims for crimes committed in their homes. They may not want to separate their family. And so on.

If you hear any suspicious or annoying noises, speak to the potential domestic violence survivor in person the next day (when alone). Tell them what you heard, ask them if they are okay, and ask what to do if it happens again – without guilt or judgment.

At the moment, if you are unsure whether or not to call the police, you can call online, send a text message or chat with a police representative first National hotline for domestic violencethat provides 24/7 support and advice to help you decide what to do next.

If there is an incident involving a child and you fear for their immediate safety, the police should be called. Otherwise, if you suspect physical abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect (as defined here), Your local child protection service is the agency you can call.