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My neighbor's so crazy that I'm scared for my family's safety. What do I do?

By Virginia K. Smith  | May 26, 2015 - 12:45PM

Q: My neighbor has broken into my apartment, vandalized my door, issued death threats to me and my family (I have this on video). He screams at me and other neighbors through our walls—the list goes on. He has multiple police reports for harassment from multiple neighbors, but my building just keeps telling me to document incidents (which I have been). What can I do to get him evicted from the co-op? Everyone in my building and board wants him removed and so do the lawyers of my building yet no one will take action against him. Is there anything I can do? I’m scared for my family’s safety.

A: It sounds like you've got a bonafide neighbor from hell, and while you've already taken good steps towards eventually getting him booted from the building, that can be a lengthy process. So if you're concerned for your family's immediate safety, it may be time to consider a restraining order, say our experts.

"Because of the inherent delays in the Housing Court proceedings that would be entailed in evicting a shareholder, a quicker and likely more effective response would be to secure an order of protection from the local precinct," says real estate attorney Dean Roberts of Norris, McLaughlin & Marcus. "If the shareholder's behavior is as bad as it seems, it is likely there have been police reports and should the individual feel threatened, which seems clear, they can swear out a criminal complaint and have the individual arrested."

This won't necessarily end in jail time for your nasty neighbor, Roberts notes, but it will serve as a basis for your order of protection (in other words, the restraining order), which will at the very least provide you with "a zone of protection," and in some cases, could mean your neighbor won't be allowed to stay in the building.

As for a more permanent solution, there's no reason for your neighbors, the board, or the building's lawyers to be dragging their feet. As we've written previously, one of the perks to living in a co-op in this situation is that there's protocol to evict a wayward shareholder, a process that's much more difficult in a condo building. Granted, there are many steps involved in a shareholder eviction; you'll need to check your building's bylaws, give the neighbor written notice (and a chance to improve his behavior, though this seems unlikely), gather all your evidence in one place, call a shareholders meeting and, eventually, head to court. (We've got a full guide on the eviction process for a bad co-op neighbor here.) But if your neighbor is as awful as he sounds, the rest of the shareholders should be more than willing to put in the necessary effort to boot him for good.


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