is it possible that my neighbors are harassing my family by calling the city on us too often?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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is it possible that my neighbors are harassing my family by calling the city on us too often?

I have lived in my house for 15 years now and have never had a problem with any of my neighbors. Then my new next door neighbor moved in about a year ago or less. Ever since then, we have had the city called on us multiple times. The most recent being animal services saying our dog is breaking through his side of the fence. First of all the day he called my wife was in the hospital and the dogs didn’t go out all day. Second, we do everything we can to keep them out of that side. We put a gate blocking off that side of the property. Sometimes she jumps over but we always bring her back in when that happens. Also, we have run into each other outside multiple times and he never mentions it. he just smiles and acts like everything is fine.
another one he complained about was our trash cans not being put in our backyard all the way. which we wouldn’t mind putting them away if he just asked, but none of our neighbors really care and we just put them away when we remember. he complained about all of us that left them out and the city came and gave us all warnings. Another time he called the city was because I was working in my garage with my power tools. I originally was working in the backyard and he told me he didn’t like the saw dust going into his backyard and if I could work in my garage. I moved. then a couple weeks go by and he calls the city and I have to get a permit to play on my power tools in my own garage. you get the point. There was one other time I can remember off the top of my head and that was when we rented a dumpster and put it in front of our house and he called the city and made them move it to across the street. also I want you to keep in mind that he has a fence on our property line that extends out to the sidewalk that exceeds the height limit and have we ever called the city on him? No.

Is there any way we can talk to the city or claim he is harassing us? These calls to the city are not necessary and make our life so much more difficult. We try talking to him but it never works.

Asked on November 1, 2017 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

It doesn't matter whether the calls are "unnecessary" or whether they should just ignore what they perceive of as issues in order be good neighbors or to be fair--all that matters is whether they are reporting true facts or situations. People may contact the authorities when they reasonably beleive that there is some violation of an ordinance, code, regulation, etc., such as about noise, a dog getting out, permits required, location of a dumpster, etc. If what they are reporting is actually occuring and is--or at least reasonably may be--a code, etc. violation, they are allowed to do this, no matter how often they call. For example, if someone violates an ordinance every day, the neighbor may call the authorities every. Only if they are reporting factually untrue occurences or situations might you have a legal claim against them, such  as for defamation or misuse of porcess. 
If the city made you move the dumpster or get a permit for your tools, or if you dog does get out of your yard, that suggests that their complaints are not untrue and so that they are allowed to do this.

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