precarious trash
January 24, 2010 8:11 PM   Subscribe

Mefites I would like to solicit advice in penning a polite yet firm grievance letter to an unknown person (or parties) in my apartment building.

I am fortunate enough in NYC to have a private back yard. Lately I am finding large amounts of cigarette butts (20/30 each week) in my yard. I cannot tell if these are from one apt or several as they are evenly dispersed. I am a dog owner. I let my dog out roughly 2/3 times a day and I am super sensitive to never leave him unattended or allow him to bark unreasonably. By this I mean he is not a barker and the second I hear him bark I bring him right in. I respect my neighbors. I've lived in my apt a long time. A bigger problem has now manifested itself. Someone is now randomly throwing food items, such as chicken bones and other potentially dangerous unidentified food objects into the yard. To my alarm I have caught my dog scarfing these on a few occasions. Just this weekend he barfed up something unrecognizable shortly after I let him out. There have been no emergency vet visits to date but I fear it is just a matter of time. I have a suspicion that it could be my new neighbor. I could be wrong, however, I never had these issues before their arrival. This person has the potential to make my life miserable (playing loud music all hours, constant parties, more trash, etc) if I address this the wrong way. How would you politely but firmly ask 'the folk/s' to stop doing this? I'll most likely post a letter in the apt building lobby.
posted by sequin to Pets & Animals (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: How would you politely but firmly ask 'the folk/s' to stop doing this? I'll most likely post a letter in the apt building lobby.

I would NOT start by posting a grievance letter in the apt building lobby, no matter how politely penned. I would in a very, very friendly and welcoming manner, introduce myself to the new neighbor, build rapport and mutual respect and then politely raise the issue in a face-to-face discussion.
posted by bunnycup at 8:17 PM on January 24, 2010 [6 favorites]

How many tenants do you have in the appt building?

Make up a very simple bulletin(ie no paragraphs, just quick bullets), photocopy it, send it to all the tenants, and see what happens. Hopefully they'll get the message who ever it is.
If it makes it easy send it to only the ones with yard access.

Good luck.
posted by ptsampras14 at 8:19 PM on January 24, 2010

Best answer: Any grievence letter you put up might get posted on the passive aggressive notes website. It's much better to take care of these things face to face as bunny cup said.
posted by patheral at 8:20 PM on January 24, 2010 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Situation A: I see a letter saying "Stop throwing chicken bones in my yard, jerks" and I say "who is this guy, fuck him" and don't pay any attention

Situation B: Someone knocks on my door and says "Hi, I live next door and wanted to introduce myself. I'm sure it's not you, but for future reference, I have a small dog in the back yard. He's normally well behaved, but if he's ever barking or causing a nuisance, please don't hesitate to call me at my cell phone #. Also, if you are hanging out on your balcony, if you can try not to throw cigarette butts or etc in the yard, he has a habit of eating things he shouldn't sometimes. Let's get a beer"

One is better.
posted by CharlesV42 at 8:24 PM on January 24, 2010 [14 favorites]

I agree with meeting in person and being genuinely friendly about it. What about bringing your dog to introduce to your new neighbor as well?
posted by scody at 8:31 PM on January 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

Mefites I would like to solicit advice in penning a polite yet firm grievance letter to an unknown person (or parties) in my apartment building.

Here, then, is your solicited advice: Don't do that.

Community > confrontation. Go introduce yourself to the new neighbor. If they've been in residence long enough that you feel weird having waited this long to go introduce yourself, make that your opening line: "Hi - I live in apartment XXX and I've been feeling weird about never having made contact since you moved in. Here's a nice bottle of red - welcome to the block!" and go from there.
posted by flabdablet at 8:35 PM on January 24, 2010

Response by poster: Good advice so far. Thanks. I did not want to post a letter in the 1st place. I am just not certain of who the culprit really is. BTW: I have 'very nicely' introduced myself to the new neighbor. He keeps to himself. But I can definitely work on befriending him some more & asking if my dog bothers him in anyway.
posted by sequin at 8:46 PM on January 24, 2010

I totally agree on going in person. Don't start the conversation with the grievance, and try not to make it seem like that's your real reason for stopping by.

What about bringing your dog to introduce to your new neighbor as well?

Yeah, please don't do this. If you showed up on my doorstep with a dog I'd be distracted, and I definitely wouldn't invite you in. You'd likely be "the dog neighbor" to me after that, instead of "Bob who lives next door and has a dog"! And depending on the dog and the neighbor it could come across as intimidating.
posted by crabintheocean at 8:47 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Arrange to 'bump' into your neighbour... with dog in tow. Let neighbour 'coo-coo' at dog... and then tell neighbour the tragic story of how the dog spent a recent night in pain and disgusting vomit-land due to scarfing chicken bones and cigarette butts in the yard.... describe in intimate details what cooked chicken bone splinters do to a dog's stomach and intestine.

If neighbour doesn't get it at that point, be more direct and ask them to stop throwing trash into your yard. This may require involving both landlords and health authorities (I can't imagine public health inspectors relish the thought of rotting animal pieces outside residential apartments).
posted by Sustainable Chiles at 8:48 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Assume the best of your neighbours. Maybe one of them stood on the balcony, saw your dog grinning up at him, and assumed he'd enjoy the left-over chicken they had in the fridge. Why would a non-pet owner know what domestic animals can and can't eat? My landlady occasionally brings crazy stuff (boiled fish bones!) for my cat. I thank her, and then explain why what she's brought isn't a a good idea. She means well, and I imagine your neighbours do too.
posted by embrangled at 9:05 PM on January 24, 2010

Don't be shy about asking the new neighbor if he's the culprit. He may not realize it's an issue, but once you explain that your dog could, for instance, die from a chicken bone perforating his stomach, he'll likely get the point. If he says it's not him, have the same convo with the other potential-offender tenants. If it still happens, contact the landlord. If the neighbor retaliates in some way, contact the landlord. My experience is that NYC tenants (and likely myself as well) are often unintentionally annoying to their neighbors, but once you address the problem, they are very apologetic and the problem stops.
posted by melissasaurus at 9:34 PM on January 24, 2010 [3 favorites]

Ok, so since you don't know who it is, you would like to use a note.

Put a picture of the dog on it, with his friendliest dopiest look, and have the request come from him? I think if it was kinda humorous and you took it down after a week, it wouldn't be too annoying. A picture of him saying "yum yum chicken bones! mmm cigarette butts!" and you next to him saying "oh no, sick dog! oh no, emergency visit to the vet!" ...? Maybe? I'm sure someone else can come up with something better.
posted by salvia at 6:32 AM on January 25, 2010

Is your landlord decent and good with the tenants? Or do you have a building manager? Maybe you can skirt the whole issue by asking your landlord to send a notice to tenants, mentioning this problem. It would be even better if the landlord has others issues to address with all the tenants, like so:

Dear Tenants,

Hello! Here's a bit of pertinent news for you. The ongoing [ANNOYING CONSTRUCTION) will be finished soon. In order to complete the work, we will be turning off the (POWER/WATER/GAS/HEAT/GRAVITY) from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday. Call [SUPER] at [NUMBER] to report any problems. We apologize for the inconvenience.

And here are a few reminders about how you can help keep our building clean/safe/happy: Please sort your trash and recycling and place it in the appropriate bins. Rent is due on the first day of the month. Don't steal your neighbors' mail. Conserve water. Remember not to throw anything into the yard, where one of our tenants' dogs is likely to choke on debris. The laundry room closes at 10 p.m. Do not let strangers into the building. Eat more vegetables.



I suppose it depends on how big your building is. This would totally work if there are only, say, three to five tenants and your landlord/lady is a persnickety sitcom character. Or if there are a gazillion tenants and your management company is in the habit of sending stupid letters or posting obnoxious signs once a week.
posted by brina at 7:40 AM on January 25, 2010

If your landlord is the type that would care that someone is junking up its property, maybe ask him/her/it to send a notice. Although I would consider that an option after talking to people hasn't worked.
posted by Mavri at 8:03 AM on January 25, 2010

« Older Is walking sufficient exercise for someone in my...   |   Seriously, if he kills me one more time, we are... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.