What can I do about my problem neighbors?
March 5, 2012 12:27 PM   Subscribe

My neighbors moved in two days ago, and haven't stopped yelling since. And they're drug dealers. Can I nip this in the bud?

I live in an apartment complex in Baltimore. It's in a nice neighborhood but is owned by an doddering old slumlord. He's been totally unhelpful in the past, or else I'd call him first. I have plenty of weird neighbors, but these new ones are in a different league.

The new tenants moved in on Saturday. In the past forty-eight hours, they've been fighting constantly. All Saturday night there were weird sounds coming from their apartment, including lots of knocking on the wall. Today I heard one of them yelling about how the other one had commissioned a junkie to repair their bathroom (?!), given him too many Xanax, and now their bathroom is totally fucked up, which probably explains the noises. Last night somebody hung around outside yelling at them to let him in and give him his money. Then one of the tenants screamed until one in the morning about his partner sleeping with other men. Today they have been yelling about money and selling pills. One of them threatened to get the other one's probation revoked. There's been enough general drug talk and paranoid ranting to make me pretty sure they're all addicts. I heard them yelling about selling their Suboxone so they're probably junkies/ex-junkies, but their affect seems pretty tweaky.

So, in short, it seems like a volatile situation that could easily collapse on its own in a short time. I'm more worried that it might not. I don't want to say anything to the neighbors directly because they are so volatile and I don't want to make myself or my apartment a target. What I want to know is what I should be doing to protect myself and how best to set in motion a process that will either get these guys evicted/arrested or force them to shut up.

Should I send them an anonymous note pointing out that they've lived here for two days and have already tipped their hand about being drug dealers to everyone in the building, so maybe they could rein in the screaming at all hours? Or do I bypass this civility and just call the cops whenever they start yelling, selling drugs, or late night renovating? Do I stop in at the police station now and talk to them about my concerns? Do I send the landlord a registered letter? I realize the solution will probably be along the lines of "call the police early and often," but I want to know what else, if anything, I should be doing.
posted by vathek to Law & Government (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Record the yelling, email to cops
posted by zia at 12:31 PM on March 5, 2012 [6 favorites]

Or just get the cops over where they can hear the yelling and then they can arrest them.
posted by zia at 12:32 PM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Call the police. Especially call the police when you hear others in the apartment - because while a drug deal is going on and drugs are out and money is passing hands is the perfect time for the police to come.

I am not one for going to government officials as the first course of action, but in this case, it's really what you need to do. Don't go to the landlord - he does not care and will claim that he doesn't/didn't know anything.
posted by sarahnicolesays at 12:32 PM on March 5, 2012 [11 favorites]

Cops, definitely. Do not involve yourself with these people in any way. Don't involve your slumlord, who could then potentially mention to the addicts that you were the one who complained. Do not leave a note on their door; it will only make them paranoid and angry with their neighbors (yourself included).
posted by erst at 12:34 PM on March 5, 2012 [4 favorites]

It looks like you also have certain rights as a renter in Maryland.
posted by AlliKat75 at 12:38 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sometimes a bit of attention is enough to scare these guys off. And if it's not, it's helpful for the future if these guys are already 'known to the police'.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:38 PM on March 5, 2012

One last thought - they are probably used to being arrested and being chased out of their housing. Just call the cops and let things unfold. Don't make yourself or your neighbors a target.
posted by zia at 12:40 PM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Xanax and suboxone are not illegal unless someone does not have a prescription. You could stop at the local Police station to talk about how to report suspected drug activity and ask about what they think. Personally, it sounds like you might be best served to be patient and keep a distance, sometimes as you said, these problems resolve on their own.
posted by heatherly at 1:01 PM on March 5, 2012

I agree re: calling the cops, but would definitely only do so if I felt confident I couldn't be singled out as the caller. From your description it sounds like they're disturbing the entire building.

Short of that, you could just try to wait them out, since they seem unhinged enough to flame out on their own.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 1:03 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding not calling the cops until you've moved, or alternatively go see them directly. Otherwise, they'll probably want to knock on your door first to speak with you about it, take a statement, then go directly over to the neighbors to have a chat, and possibly even mention that it was you that complained.

You could also call up and report a domestic dispute when they're arguing, that'll get the cops inside their apartment without a search warrant, and it doesn't sound like they're very careful about hiding anything.

Or say nothing and let it resolve on it's own. It sounds like it's already headed that way.
posted by Monkeyswithguns at 1:03 PM on March 5, 2012

Response by poster: Yeah...

I suppose venting lets a bit of the load off. I'm just under the impression that, unless they get arrested, which of course is fairly likely, even if the police are here five nights a week I'm likely to have these guys as neighbors for the next month or two at least. They're already driving me nuts after two days. I would love to break the lease (ends in July and I'm already counting the days) and move out of this shithole and away from this problem, but I can't afford to. I am not confident that I would not be singled out as the caller, and they live next a woman who seems to have mental issues, so I am worried that she might be singled out.
posted by vathek at 1:12 PM on March 5, 2012

If you lived in New Orleans when I lived in New Orleans about the only option you would have is to move. Maybe the Baltimore cops can give you some better advice but from thousands miles away I would say it is a coin flip that the Baltimore cops are going to advise you to move.
posted by bukvich at 2:43 PM on March 5, 2012

I'm not sure about the cops angle, but I would avoid any attempt at communication with them. If they are as crazy and strung out as you say, there is huge potential for this to go badly and irrationally wrong very quickly.
posted by carter at 5:36 PM on March 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

Is there any way you can call the cops as a "concerned passerby" rather than a concerned neighbor? I mean, mabye get a friend to do it, or tell the cops you just want to remain anonymous?
posted by stockpuppet at 8:07 PM on March 5, 2012

You have two real choices: Move, or keep your head down and wait for things to run their course.

If you leave them a note, you're not being clever, because they will know exactly who you are, and they will not be intimidated. If you call the cops and it doesn't get rid of them immediately, they won't have to look far to find whoever ratted them out.
If they really are as crazy as they sound, things could go REALLY FUCKING BAD quickly. If I were in your position, I'd try to avoid getting stabbed or shot.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:22 AM on March 6, 2012

I live in Baltimore and have one terrible neighbor so have dealt with something similar. Are you in the Northern District? We have a community policing initiative. Whatever district, stop by the station to chat about it. Seriously. The ND at least is very receptive and sometimes even quite attentive. So is my city council person, Mary Pat Clarke. Go in person before you start a campaign of calling 911.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 2:28 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Don't contact or speak to these people. You don't know if they are dangerous. Let the police know there is suspected drug activity and loud, obnoxious behavior. They are trained to deal with situations like this.
posted by sybarite09 at 6:33 AM on March 6, 2012

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