How do I get rid of really bad neighbors? Are there any legal issues with giving out their landlord's cell phone number? Are there any Philadelphia-specific ways to get them to move?
posted by Brachiosaurus to law & government (38 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I live in CA but own a house in Philadelphia, which I rent out to some nice college students. I did live in the house last summer and I had several problems with the neighbors and one confrontation. I've had two tenants move out, to some degree because of them, and I don't want to lose these current tenants. This is also a real quality of life issue for my tenants. And a far less important, and less tangible problem is they are probably keeping my property value lower than it would be otherwise (I know I'd never be able to sell the house, if I wanted to, in the summer, when most of the problems start).
Some examples of the problems:
There are about 5-7 children living there (most of whom are actually sweet kids), and the screaming mother, and her drunk male 'partner' (not sure exactly what the situation is there). During the summer, everyday starting at about 10 am until about 10 pm, the children would play out on the sidewalk (annoying but okay, 'cause that's what children do) but the mother regularly goes out and starts screaming curse words and yelling at the top of her lungs for seemingly minor infractions by the children. This also goes on during the weekend anytime it's warm out.
Example 2: I was out on the stoop chatting with some of the neighbor kids one evening last summer and the neighbor was taking her trash to the curb. She then started pouring cleaning chemicals all over the trash bags and the sidewalk because she had forgotten to take the trash out the week before. According to her, it smelled bad and there were maggots in it (lovely). In the process of her doing this she ended up throwing bleach all over me, my clothes, and probably everyone else that was standing around. (In Philadelphia the garbage men come by and pick up the trash bags with gloves. I don't know why anyone would put bleach on something that someone would have to touch less than 12 hours later.)
And 3: There are regular crazy arguments that you can hear in my house (these are attached row houses). These can be at all hours of the night.
Oh, and 4: Being a night owl, during the summer while I was there, I would go out after dark and clean the sidewalks- pick up trash, sweep, etc. But by the time I woke up at noon-ish, there would be chicken bones, ice cream wrappers, and other trash out in front of their house, and migrating towards mine and the other neighbors' sidewalks. Seriously, I wish I was exaggerating.
And you're getting the point but still, 5: They have, from my understanding, regularly harassed my tenants- they pound on the door when they want something, and continue to pound for a long time even though my tenants won't answer. From my understanding, what they want is usually food (from a recently observed take-out delivery), cigarettes, to 'borrow' some money, or to sell my tenants pot (they made the mistake of buying some from them once when they first moved in [I don't care that my tenants smoke pot- they are college students after all] but I've asked them to just get it elsewhere). Occasionally this sort of thing would happen when I was living there and the neighbor would resort to jiggling the door knob.
Okay, so they are awful, indescribably awful. There's a lot more I could say though.
My tenants have called the cops several times because of noise. Most of the time they don't show up and when they do it settles down just long enough for the cops to drive off.
I've called their landlord twice- once during the summer and once recently. The only thing that is offered is that he "will talk to them." But predictably this does nothing. During the summer he more or less said that he knows they are 'animals' but they pay the rent and this is all he cares about. Well, of course they pay the rent, they are on section 8.
This most recent time I even told him that I don't know why he doesn't get rid of them, he rents the 5 bedroom house to them for 800 and I rent out my 2 bedroom house for 875 (or course my place is way nicer inside).
This block is mostly owner occupied. During the summer I talked to several neighbors and, not surprisingly, everyone wants them gone. From what I can tell it's just a family neighborhood with working class people. Oh, and the other kids on the street aren't allowed to play with these kids.
So what do I do? I think that as long as they're there I run the risk of losing my tenants because of this. And some day I'm going to be living there again. But besides how it affects me, I just don't want my tenants to have to deal with this. I've thought about sending a letter to all the other homes on the block, or at least those that are very close by, with their landlord's contact information. His address is available online through the Philadelphia public records/ real estate tax site. But I got his cell phone number by feigning interest in buying that house- my real estate agent got in touch with the one he works with, and he said to give me his cell number. So maybe if everyone starts calling, maybe he would throw them out(?). Is it legal to give out someone's cell phone number in this way? Could he sue me if I did? I'm sure he'd know who did it- I don't think he would have given me his number under the circumstances.
Some last bits of detail- I think that these people have been there for about 2 years. I've owned the house for 1 year. And while I knew that they were loud neighbors because I heard an argument while checking the place out, I had no way of knowing that they would be this bad.