What do I do? How can I make them move?
April 28, 2009 5:05 PM   Subscribe

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?

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.
posted by Brachiosaurus to Law & Government (38 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think there's anything you can do, legally.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:22 PM on April 28, 2009

I would be very wary of contacting the owner--using his personal cell phone number you have obtained through false pretenses of interest in the property--and, essentially, harassing him into trying to influence what he does with his own property. Not only could it potentially make you someone who is harassing him, but creating that kind of unwelcome communication is not the best way to foster goodwill. If you are going to take the step of contacting the landlord at all, I would send him ONE letter via registered mail to his mailing address that is in the public record. Better yet, have your lawyer review and send it.

Finally, not to point fingers here, but if you have problems with the neighbors next door dealing drugs, then perhaps it might not be the wisest idea to verbally condone drug purchase and use to your young tenants, college students or no. Especially if you ever decide that you need/want assistance from the police in addressing your complaints with the neighbors (who also happen to have been be your tenants' drug dealers on at least one occasion).

(Important note: I am not a lawyer, or a real estate professional.)
posted by teamparka at 5:26 PM on April 28, 2009

(Further important note: Not only am I not a lawyer, but I am not attempting to give any kind of legal advice--just making note of the law in your state. Just putting that out there.)
posted by teamparka at 5:27 PM on April 28, 2009

From my understanding, what they want is usually food (from a recently observed take-out delivery), cigarettes, to 'borrow' some money,

Wow who does that? Christ you do have the worst neighbors in the world. I wish I had some really good advice for you but even anything passive aggressive your tenants could do would probably be completely ignored by people that trashy. Jesus.
posted by JFitzpatrick at 5:29 PM on April 28, 2009

IANAL, and IANA-American, but so far the only "gotcha!" part of this story is the pot. The challenge is proving that they're dealing. Of course, you're going to have to explain why you haven't notified anyone that this is going on.

Bad news, all around.
posted by Decimask at 5:29 PM on April 28, 2009

Forget legal substance for a second and think about your goals: what do you want to accomplish? Sounds like you just want these people to go get fucked and take their whole mess somewhere else, and I totally sympathize. Realistically, there isn't a state agency that can get you where you want. 95% of being a fuckwad isn't illegal, and that's the price we pay for doing a lot of non-obnoxious stuff. Apologize to your tenants, get the other landlord on the phone yourself and try to lean on him a bit, and encourage your tenants to make use of calls to cops and social services when appropriate.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:33 PM on April 28, 2009

Jesus, I've been there. But our neighbor had a gang and loitering and drugs. And then the PD raided the apartment and found guns. So yeah, not good times.

Is there a Homeowners Association for the row houses? If not, can you organize something? Doesn't have to be a stringent "everyone has to have the same doors, no planting in the gardens, everyone has monthly dues" BS kind of HOA, but maybe a neighborhood association of owners united together for the betterment and maintenance of the neighborhood.

Calling the cops, Board of Health is pretty much your only course based on what you've said.

However, if they get forceful with the banging on the door, jiggling the handle stuff, I'd report it as "someone trying to break in to the apartment" instead of fucking annoying neighbor being all fucking annoying.

Though, I have to say, I feel like you're not dealing with the sanest of neighbors and the cop activity might piss send her over the edge. She might also turn tables and rat your tenants out for the pot. I'd verbally ask your tenants to cut it out with the pot. At least put that out there.

Ultimately, though, you as other owners need to put the heat on the landlord. Someone must know a lawyer that can give you off the record advice on how to word letters to this guy in order to make him move. Check out what your state laws are on this. You have rights as a homeowner (quiet enjoyment, et al). You'll need to hone your Google-fu for this one.
posted by jerseygirl at 5:50 PM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Call the Section 8 people and complain. Mention to THEM the drug stuff.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:00 PM on April 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

Call the police on them every single small annoyance until they hate living near you so much that they move. People like this probably have something to hide from police, so they will not want them knocking at their door. Unfortunately, you don't live there anymore.
posted by caddis at 6:01 PM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Dealing with the affordable housing offices, at least in our experience in MA, was a pain in the ass to deal with. They seemed more concerned about their tenants than what their tenants were inflicting on innocent bystanders.

Investigate it regardless.
posted by jerseygirl at 6:13 PM on April 28, 2009

Making a family with 7 children homeless because of asshole parents is not the right answer.
posted by The Straightener at 6:18 PM on April 28, 2009 [4 favorites]

You actually mentioned the solution in your question: Purchase the house, then evict them.

And if you give the owner's cell number to the whole neighborhood with your urging them to call him... well, would you want that? I don't know if it's illegal, but it's not going to make a difficult situation better. After all, he's your neighbor, in addition to the renting family. Best case scenario, he'd probably change the number and never speak to you again.
posted by Houstonian at 6:23 PM on April 28, 2009

Take a look at the forums on Philly Blog, they're neighborhood specific and handling these kinds of crazy neighbor situations are regularly discussed. This whole thing is actually so Philly, it's like you distilled a big jug of Philly down to its essential Philly-ness. There's at least one family like this on every block out in the neighborhoods.
posted by The Straightener at 6:30 PM on April 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks so far everyone. I should mention that I don't think that these people are selling drugs to other people, I think they are just reselling their drugs when they need a bit of money. It sounds like I'm splitting hairs but it's not as though there are frequent visitors, in and out traffic, that sort of stuff. If there were I might welcome it- that would be easier to document to get rid of them.

I think calling the Section 8 people is a tactic I might try tomorrow.

In theory there are associations in Philadelphia in which neighbors can join together, and they have these people called Block Captains. But there is no real way to find out who is the Block Captain. No one gives out that information, presumably to protect that person from intimidation.

I agree with you, The Straightener, that this whole situation is unfair to the children. But I can't wait 15 years for the youngest child to turn 18 until I do something. And chances are, at least statistically, these kids are fucked anyway- if it could even be possible, getting kicked out of a house is not the worst things that has, or will, happen to these kids. The awful things that come out of their mother's mouth for not throwing their chicken bones on the sidewalk properly, whatever it is that they do wrong, is going to scar them far more than having to move into another neighborhood.

I've searched through Philly Blog before but I've never found anything very useful- at least I've never found anything that would help me get rid of these people. Oh course I'll search through it again.

And I wish I could buy that house to kick them out, I've totally thought of that before. But in my last question on Ask Mefi I was concerned about getting my computer to last a few more months until I can afford to replace it, so buying a house isn't exactly affordable right now.
posted by Brachiosaurus at 6:43 PM on April 28, 2009

If the children's living conditions are that bad - dangerous chemicals, drugs, filth, and abusive parents - should Social Services intervene? That might be enough to at least get the kids to safety, and then the parents may either move on, or get moved on.
posted by GJSchaller at 6:53 PM on April 28, 2009

And chances are, at least statistically, these kids are fucked anyway- if it could even be possible, getting kicked out of a house is not the worst things that has, or will, happen to these kids.

Good attitude.

They have a Section 8 voucher because they can't pay market rent, and Section 8 vouchers are incredibly hard to come by. If you take action to have this voucher revoked they will be sitting in Eliza Shirley shelter on Arch Street in a warehouse setting where their seven children will have to prepare for school in a cubicle with no privacy, surrounded by other families coping with issues ranging from drug addiction to mental illness to domestic violence.

I'm not saying they are right, nor am I saying you are wrong, what I'm am saying is that there is a broad range of possible interventions that pull up well shy of having the family put on the street that you could try, but you and others in this thread seem to think that trying to have the family evicted is the only option. I think that should be an absolute last resort after every possible effort to convey to the family that their behavior needs to change has been exhausted.
posted by The Straightener at 7:02 PM on April 28, 2009 [4 favorites]

If the children's living conditions are that bad - dangerous chemicals, drugs, filth, and abusive parents - should Social Services intervene? That might be enough to at least get the kids to safety, and then the parents may either move on, or get moved on.

We've been over this before in AskMe. The fact is that given the description here a DHS social worker is not going to open a case on this family. A DHS investigation consists of checking the children's physical condition for abuse and neglect and a very cursory search of the home to make sure there is food and conditions are habitable. DHS does not open cases on families for being poor and acting ignorant. 25% of Philadelphia lives under the poverty line, DHS cannot carry each and every one of those families on their caseload.
posted by The Straightener at 7:05 PM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

St. Alia has it: you need to get in touch with the Housing Authority, which administrates Section 8 housing. The circumstances under which a Section 8 tenant can be evicted are pretty much the same as eviction circumstances for any other tenant (violating terms of the lease, et cetera; the document linked below mentions criminal activity in particular, however). But the Housing Authority can terminate a Section 8 housing contract [see page three here]:

When can the Housing Authority terminate a Section 8 Housing Assistance Contract?
The Housing Authority may terminate its Section 8 Housing Assistance Contract when a landlord violates his or her obligations under the Section 8 Existing Housing Program. For example, the Housing Authority can terminate the contract when the dwelling unit does not meet the Section 8 Housing Quality Standards. The Housing Authority should notify you and the landlord in writing before terminating the contract. Ordinarily, you cannot appeal the Housing Authority's decision to terminate its contract with your landlord. The Housing Authority should, however, give you a chance to move elsewhere.

Now, in turn, here is the Section 8 Existing Housing Program Certified Statement Of Family Obligations, which the family must have signed and which they are required to follow if they want to keep their housing. The fifth and sixth requirements are the ones that you're most likely to convince the HA to look into:

The Family shall:
5) Maintain the rental unit. The family is responsible for any violation of Housing Quality Standards [link is a pdf of the Housing Quality inspection form - k.] resulting from:
a) failure to pay for tenant-paid utilities;
b) failure to furnish required stove and or refrigerator to be provided by family; or
c) damage to the unit or grounds by the family or guests beyond normal wear and tear.

So I guess I would get in touch with the

Philadelphia Housing Authority
12th South 23rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

and ask them if there's any way you can request an inspection; it does sound as though they're due for one.
posted by koeselitz at 7:18 PM on April 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

Thanks so far everyone. I should mention that I don't think that these people are selling drugs to other people, I think they are just reselling their drugs when they need a bit of money.

Section 8/DEA would not make this distinction.
posted by shii at 7:19 PM on April 28, 2009

... and I see The Straightener's here—which means the rest of us should probably take a back seat; he knows what he's talking about when it comes to low-income / poverty-stricken / at-risk individuals and families, and I encourage you to give a good ear to what he has to say.
posted by koeselitz at 7:19 PM on April 28, 2009

The Straightener: Making a family with 7 children homeless because of asshole parents is not the right answer.

This is so true that I really regret my earlier answer—pay attention here.
posted by koeselitz at 7:21 PM on April 28, 2009

there is a broad range of possible interventions that pull up well shy of having the family put on the street that you could try

I am not at all being sarcastic. The Straightener, what interventions can you see, for the poster to address his problem?
posted by Houstonian at 7:22 PM on April 28, 2009

If this gives you any reassurance, I've moved around many places in my life and one thing I've found (hopefully not a biased sample here) is that the situation usually resolves itself. In every situation where there I've been near crappy neighbors, it's usually ended in foreclosure, moving out to live with relatives, disappearance to some other city, or people going to prison, all within a year or two. It's probably not a golden rule of thumb but it has certainly been my experience.

Aside from that, I'd probably second the idea of calling the police every time there's a disturbance going on, as long as they don't get the idea it's you doing it. I recall one time a few years ago I called the police at one place next door due to loud yelling, music, and carrying on in their yard at 2 a.m. on a worknight. I turned on the scanner to hear what was going on and it turned out one of the guys (a visitor) had warrants. After he was taken in, things quieted down at that place for good. It goes to show you what can happen with a chance encounter with the police.

Mind you I'm definitely not a proponent of tattling to the police and I could care less what the neighbors do as long as I get my sleep and my stuff is safe and secure, but it's unfortunate that the vast majority of bad neighbors simply do not respond to polite overtures to turn their shit down at 4 a.m.

I have to say though I was impressed by your neighbor dumping bleach on the trash pile. It was obviously poor judgement but it does show perhaps a shred of dignity or concern. I might have been sorely tempted to actually thank them and say not too many other people would have done such a thing, in hopes that it encourages more thoughtful behavior.
posted by crapmatic at 7:26 PM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

A landlord who will turn a blind eye to this type of shit will likely ignore worse. There is no guarantee that the new tenants will be better. From my personal experience, if you finally rid your self of two crappy neighbors, four appear in their place. Just something to consider.
posted by milarepa at 7:29 PM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've lived in Philly for a long time, and I think you have it better than you imagine.

Your neighbors sound annoying, but they're not violent. If you get rid of them, you don't know who's going to move next door. It could be a lot worse. You signed up for this when you bought a house in that neighborhood.

It could also be a lot worse for those kids, so please don't throw them out on the street because their situation annoys you.

Best bet might be to cut your tenants' rent by $100 a month and tell 'em to deal with it. Or maybe you can turn your property into Section 8 housing, too! Their landlord knows all the tricks. Since you have his number, you can give him a call.
posted by pantsonfire at 8:00 PM on April 28, 2009

You have a duty to your tenants to make their experience free of any insane problems like this. This supersedes any other imperative you think you might have regarding not evicting the family. They have been, or can be, adequately warned that their actions could have consequences, and now it's up to you to make sure that they do.
posted by Electrius at 8:29 PM on April 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

I don't have any additional advice, but I want to just applaud you for being a good landlord. It's really admirable that you care about your tenants and your property. For most landlords it's "out of sight out of mind" which really sucks.
posted by radioamy at 8:51 PM on April 28, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks Electrius and Radioamy, I was just about to write that the responses would be a lot different if I were my tenants asking about how to get rid of neighbors that were causing problems. I'm trying to do the right thing for my tenants, and yes, ultimately for myself too. Though the problem could resolve itself by the time I move back (in about 2 years or so).

There is always the possibility that the next neighbors could be worse- but these people are so bad that I think they would be hard to beat. My other neighbors have said that everything was great on that street before they moved in.

I kept most of my descriptions of what has happened to my first hand encounters. But according to one of the tenants that moved out they did threaten her, or at least made a veiled threat.

And I don't think that lowering the rent for my tenants would help all that much because the last person that moved out was paying 125 less per month.

I think that I will contact the Section 8 people and suggest or request an inspection of the property. And maybe being in a shelter where someone might witness or hear the verbal abuse that these children are dealing with everyday might be a good thing. Unfortunately mental and verbal abuse doesn't leave bruises, just scars.
posted by Brachiosaurus at 9:06 PM on April 28, 2009

I read all of this. Nowhere can I see that you actually spoke with them.
- please keep the noise down - we can hear you all over our house (first few times)
- if you don't keep the noise down, we're going to call the cops (then do so and get the right number to call)
- keeping food waste and garbage invites rodents and bugs to both of our properties. If you can't keep the place clean, I will be calling your landlord and the Section 8 people
- do not bother my tenants under any circumstances - if you rattle the doorknob they will call the cops AND Section 8 people and the landlord
- if you do get bugs and rodents, send the bill to their landlord
- pay the kids $50 a month, get them a huge garbage bin, and pay them to keep their yard clean and not let any garbage on their property migrate towards yours (I bet they'd do it)
- start the neighborhood association yourself, which can pressure the landlord
- tell the landlord they need to: keep their shit clean, not knock/rattle the door, and keep the noise down. You don't WANT to go any further so it's in his best interest to fix it.
- do not advertise his cell phone. Do all correspondence via registered mail. Get a lawyer friend to write it out on fancy paper.

Build a nice big fence on your property. To keep your tenants, lower your rent a little bit or install something else -- a dishwasher, washer/dryer, or have someone come paint, etc.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. I'm sorry they're affecting your property value. But that's kind of what you get when you buy into a cheap/gentrifying/poor/working class neighborhood -- the possibility this might happen. And they have a LOT more problems than property value. Believe me, I understand. My neighbour insists on "fixing" his car 24/7 and blaring music. But I have cheap rent and a nice place...so I deal with it.
posted by barnone at 9:17 PM on April 28, 2009 [3 favorites]

It's possible that this is the first real home that they've had, and that they don't know how to do the basics like taking out the trash on trash day. Is there an agency that can provide some support / training to them? Can the Section 8 / Social Services people help out?
posted by zippy at 9:24 PM on April 28, 2009

look, i know how shitty shitty neighbors can be. it sounds like these people are a little crazy too, what with the rattling of the doorknobs and flinging bleach all over the place.

but trash on a south philly street ain't no thang. trash is all over the place in this city ('cept in center city, where they mostly keep it clean for the tourists).

noisy-ass, rude, ignorant family with 7 kids isn't a rarity either. the cops have been there, and haven't done anything. it's a noise complaint in soufilly--i'm surprised they showed up at all.

if you've contacted their landlord, and he's said all he cares about it rent, you really have no options.

basically, you/your tenants can keep trying to reason with this crazy family, but it probably isn't going to get very far, and it could even escalate to them damaging your property or harming your tenants.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 10:08 PM on April 28, 2009

Dude. Compared to the last neighbors I had, these people sound like a dream. You should invite them over for dinner. What the hell do you think you're gonna get when you get a cheap property in a Philly neighborhood? I mean, if you really want to push 'em out, do it the old fashioned way. Move in and bring all of your middle class buddies with you. Then, ten years down the road, they won't be able to afford the taxes.

Here's the way I see it: buying a property in a low-income neighborhood is a gamble that you have to stick with long-term. Good luck, but there's not a thing you can do to make Philly the white middle-class heaven you're dreaming of.
posted by pantsonfire at 10:40 PM on April 28, 2009

Nothing in the OP's posts have indicated that this property is in a "low-income neighborhood" or in "soufilly". The idea that these neighbors are in Section 8 housing does not necessarily correspond to the idea that this is a low-income neighborhood. I've lived in that area and I've visited housing that was advertised as "Section 8" housing; it was much nicer than I would have previously believed and it was in neighborhoods that I wouldn't have labeled "poor".

I'm seeing a bit of abuse thrown at the OP here: "Don't evict those kids! OH! The poor kids!" What's with that? The kids aren't the OP's concern. Being able to rent out his otherwise empty abode to decent tenants and not having those tenants harassed are his concerns.

I haven't any advice for the OP beyond recommending that he call the Philly Housing Authority and encourage his tenants to call the police whenever the neighbors cause an issue. He might also want to check whether there is a Sanitation Department that would fine them/the landlord for putting trash out on the street at non-collection times.
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 11:01 PM on April 28, 2009 [3 favorites]

When I lived in Boston, I remember seeing trash violations listed weekly in the free neighborhood paper (once it was my college adviser!). Nthing having pictures taken and calling the board of health.
posted by brujita at 11:05 PM on April 28, 2009

Response by poster: Yeah, I don't really know why it's assumed that the neighborhood is low income. I think that I made it clear in my posting that everyone else on the street, other home owners, want them gone too. When I wrote 'working class' that isn't code for poor. That's code for working, having a job, leaving in the morning and coming home at night, and not wanting to hear some crazy woman yelling at her kids in front of their living room window (and probably make way more money than I do, even taking into account the small amount I get above the mortgage payment on my house). For those that want to be self righteous about the whole thing, perhaps you should ask yourself why working class means poor to you.

Part of the difficulty that I'm having is that, as stated in the original post, and on my profile, I live in California. Dealing with this from afar is a lot different than when I was next door. And yes, I had asked them several times to keep it down, to keep it down in the morning, in the afternoon, and at night. The problem is that the parents don't pick up on what is normal behavior and what is not. There aren't other people screaming and yelling at their kids, or anyone else, on this block, or neighborhood. For those that haven't been to Philly, it's hard to fully explain what I mean when they are screaming in front of my living room window. I mean literally, directly in front of my window, within a foot- there is no yard, no fence, and dual pane windows aren't enough of a barrier.

Another misconception about this post is my gender, though you guys did guess that I'm white, just like about 75% of the neighborhood in question. I'm a young, quiet, and relatively short white woman, that isn't all that confrontational, and I don't really think that me telling them to keep it down even registers as an action to these people. And I imagine that if I was a man it would be a lot different. I can't imagine many women disagreeing with me on that.

The main difference between me and the other neighbors is that I'm coming into this after the bad neighbors in question. The other people on the block were there before them, have to see them everyday, and presumably don't have MeFi accounts- so that's why you're hearing from me.

I don't think that they are putting out enough trash for for the sanitation department to notice. It was one of those things that I was noticing because I was the one sweeping in front of their house, and mine, and the others nearby. After a few days it wouldn't be all that obvious which house it was coming from, and it didn't matter anyway because throwing the garbage and food scraps in front of my house is no different to these people than throwing it in front of their house. The houses are 14 feet wide, we have adjoining stoops, my sidewalk is their sidewalk.

And yes, there's a ton of garbage in Philly. I'd say the biggest difference between Philly and San Francisco (where I commute to) is that in SF the garbage and piss smell is where the tourist attractions are and the neighborhoods are clean, but in Philly it's the other way around.

For the record, we aren't talking about South Philly. Short of giving out the address, my place is south of Frankford, south of Lehigh, kind of near Rocket Cat, but above Norris. (for those of you not from Philly, Rocket Cat is unfortunately not the name of a street, [how awesome would it be to have 231 Rocket Cat Way as your address] it's a coffee shop).

Thanks, I'll update if there's any progress.
posted by Brachiosaurus at 2:10 AM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

How did I know this was in Fishtown?

I am not at all being sarcastic. The Straightener, what interventions can you see, for the poster to address his problem?

I would recommend going back through all the other problem tenant threads there have been on AskMe because I've been over this before, but, I'll recommend one more time going to your local police district on off hours (Saturday or Sunday mornings are best) and sitting down with an officer on desk duty and describing your problem to them and asking them for help in handling it. I would also recommend banding together with the other neighbors on the block who are fed up with the problem family and approaching them together if you are afraid of approaching them alone. Don't approach them in hostility, just go to them and explain that there are some behaviors they need to change if they don't want interventions to escalate into regular run ins with the police. If they are loud past 11pm, which is the citywide noise cutoff, call the police EVERY SINGLE TIME and file noise complaints. Have other neighbors call, too. File police reports to document your attempts to stop the problems.

I'm sorry, but this situation is not uncommon in Fishtown. I'm pretty sure the officers in the 26th Police district (located practically down the street) have dealt with the crazy Section 8 family on the block before. Talk to them, ask them to help you formulate a strategy and suggest other resources you can tap into.

26th Police District
Girard & Montgomery, 19125
posted by The Straightener at 7:49 AM on April 29, 2009 [3 favorites]

Also down the street from you is the exceptional agency Lutheran Settlement House who deal with families just like this, from this community on a daily basis. You could also stop in there to see what other courses of action they might recommend prior to going to the Housing Authority and trying to get their voucher revoked or, god forbid, calling DHS on them. That last suggestion really needs to stop popping up in AskMe. You call protective services when you think an endangered child is in need of protection, not to manipulate that agency's considerable power to your advantage in a housing dispute against a family you don't like.
posted by The Straightener at 8:28 AM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Annnnnd, lastly, because the Fishtown section of Phillyblog, which the OP claims to have read and offered no useful information, was exactly what I was thinking about when I recommended she read the site, has a ton of useful threads:

Neighbors band together to get owner to clean up trashy yard.

Nonstop barking dog thread, where someone suggest contacting the police community rep, similar to my suggestion above.

I got a trash violation! Includes suggestions for dealing with dirty neighboring schools.

And dealing with the crazy Section 8 neighbor has totally been a thread on there, too, I just don't have any more time today to find it. You didn't look very hard.
posted by The Straightener at 9:13 AM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

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