What action can I take to get my landlord to stop a neighbor from harassing me?

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What action can I take to get my landlord to stop a neighbor from harassing me?

I live in a 1 bedroom apartment in an 11-unit building. Over the past 2 years I have made numerous complaints to the property manager regarding excessive noise, threats of physical harm, and other forms of harassment from my neighbors. It took 1 1/2 years for my neighbors to stop playing their music/TV excessively loud and I continue to endure verbal threats of physical violence from them. I am the only tenant with 2 entrances to my unit and the same tenants routinely throw food scraps at my entrance. I have taken pictures and reported this to the management but they haven’t take steps to prevent the harassment. Can I sue my neighbor/landlord?

Asked on June 7, 2011 under Real Estate Law, District of Columbia

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

In every lease there is a covenant of quiet enjoyment which means that the tenant cannot be disturbed in his/her use and enjoyment of the premises.  If the landlord does not take action against the neighbor, you could sue the landlord for breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment.

Assault is intentionally placing one in reasonable apprehension of an immediate battery without consent or privilege.  Assault does not require any physical contact (battery).  Assault is both civil and criminal.  You could sue the neighbor for assault for the verbal threats of physical violence. 

In addition to your civil (lawsuit) for assault, you could contact the police and press criminal charges against the neighbor for assault.  The police might not want to pursue it but it may be worth a try on your part.  The district attorney might be reluctant to pursue criminal prosecution for assault against the neighbor because it may be difficult to get a conviction since it would be your word against the neighbor's word.


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