As an elder citizen, how should I proceed against a neighbor that has physically threatened me?

I am a fully disabled veteran, aged 65. I have a young neighbor with a very volatile temper. This week he verbally attacked me then escalated rapidly to a threat of physical violence. I have witnesses. This was my second incident with him. I live in a small complex of 11 apartments. He has had incidents with 2 other tenants, 1 of whom is also over 65. He keeps guns and often walks with a knife. I believe he is dangerous. I reported the incident to our absent landlord who appears to have done nothing. How do you suggest that I proceed?

Asked on June 30, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

There are three possibilities:

1) Contract the police to at least  file a report and possibly file charges, too. Also, seek a protective order.

2) Put the landlord on written notice of the threats and assaults and state that if the landlord does not take action to protect your right to "quiet enjoyment" that you will terminate your lease due to constructive eviction (obviously, only if you're willing to follow through and move); this can be somewhat "risky" in that if the other tenant does not continue to threaten you--and or if a court would not consider the threats serious  enough--if you move out, it may be held you are in breach of your own lease and therefore liable to the landlord. You have to be very certain of the factual situaion and how it would be viewed before taking this route. You can also put the landlord on notice that if you do suffer any assault or other criminal activity by this other tenant, you will hold the landlord liable due to its failure to act.

3) Sue the landlord, seeking a court declaratory judgment (court determination) that this activity violates your right to quiet enjoyment and a court order (or injunction) directing the landlord to take appropriate action (e.g. send the tenant a Notice to Cease doing  this, then evict him if he continues).


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