Racism in the Presidential Race
Elders in Political Ads

Crabby Old Lady Requests Your Advice

[EDITORIAL NOTE: If you have written any blog posts on political issues this week, be sure to get links to me by Friday for the Sunday Election Issues post. If you're wondering what I'm talking about, see this post.]

During her years of blogging here, Crabby Old Lady has made many friends among elderbloggers and younger bloggers too. You're all smart and thoughtful and funny and creative and now, Crabby would like to take advantage of those qualities. She would like to consult you about a problem that has plagued her for more than two years. She would be pleased if you would indulge her.

Crabby lives in a tiny condominium – three owners who each have one floor of what, in New England, is called a “triple decker.”

A single man in his 30s owns the floor above Crabby (let’s call him Tom for today’s purposes). A single man in his 20s lives in the apartment below (let’s call him Dick), owned by his parents (they shall be called Harry and Louise today), who live a 90-minute drive north.

Crabby has lived in her Maine home for a bit more than two years - 28 months fraught with the most awful neighbor (Dick) she has ever encountered - even during four decades in New York City. His parents are no better.

The initial problem, when Crabby first bought her home in 2006, was being waked at about 2AM or so several nights a week by live, amplified music coming from below her bedroom, as loud as if she were standing next to the band stand in a nightclub.

When Crabby mentioned this at her first condo meeting a couple of months after she moved in, Harry said his son, Dick, is a “musical genius” and he must be able to play whenever the mood strikes him, so Crabby should buy ear plugs.

Crabby demurred and Harry insisted on his son’s “genius” and freedom to disturb the night. There was no resolution at the meeting. Later, Crabby convinced Dick to moving his music equipment to a room under her deck and she has since been able to sleep uninterrupted except – well, that comes later.

During the ensuing two years, the following has occurred:

Liquor bottles, beer cans and cigarette butts were and occasionally continue to be left on the front porch and sidewalk following Dick’s frequent, all-night parties. If she didn't sweep and pick up the mess, it wouldn't get done.

Ditto the small back yard.

Dick, Harry and Louise refused for more than a year to agree to a date for owners to get together to clean out more than a hundred cans of paint and other flammables left in the cellar by the renovators in 2005 – even after a fire department inspection demanded the immediate removal as a fire hazard. It was 15 months before Crabby could get the the all the owners to agree to a date and even then, she and Tom did most of the work and Crabby hauled the paint to the recycling center.

There is no garage and only a single-car-width driveway adjoining the building. To give owners a respite from street parking, each takes a week parking in the driveway, round-robin style. In the time Crabby has lived here, Dick has repeatedly parked behind her, locking in her car.

He almost never answers his door and Crabby has the bruised knuckles to prove it, most recently two weeks ago, pounding on Dick's door for 15 minutes at 9:30 at night, needing her car to pick up a friend at the airport.

Dick does not have a landline phone and his AT&T iPhone does not get service in his apartment. Crabby can never be certain, when she wants to use her car, that she will be able to.

In the spring of 2007, Dick bought a dog. When the handy man mowed the back lawn the first time that summer, dog poop flew up to his face. It took Crabby the entire summer with many emails and calls to Dick, Harry and Louise to get Dick to stop allowing the dog to poop in the yard and pick up the messes that were there.

Over last winter, instead of walking the dog, Dick allowed her to pee and poop in the cellar. Crabby discovered this in the late winter when, upon entering the cellar, the odor nearly knocked her over. Tom wasn’t too happy either when he discovered the dog had pooped and peed on the sailing equipment he stores in the cellar over the winter.

About once a month, Crabby is shocked awake at night by crashingly loud, recorded music from parties in Dick’s apartment. Each time, she must go downstairs (since Dick has no working phone) in her ratty, old pink robe (which she loves) and her flyaway, long, gray hair to make a spectacle of herself (publicly confirming her status as a crabby old lady) as she asks for the the music to be shut down. She hates doing that.

One day this past summer, Crabby found that the three trash bins in the back of the driveway were overflowing and more bags of trash, torn open by various nocturnal critters, were strewn in the driveway. The smell indicated that it was many weeks of accumulation. Since neither Crabby nor Tom uses the trash bins (preferring to place their bags and recyclables at the curb on the weekly trash night), it could only be Dick. It took a week after a cleanup request for Dick to do so.

Then, when Crabby went to the cellar last week, she was met with an overwhelming odor of something burning or having been recently burned. She immediately went on red alert, preparing to flee upstairs to grab Ollie the cat and leave. She was relieved there was no smoke, but she did see some burned bits of paper and small pieces of charred wood, obviously the origin of the odor. This wood-framed triple decker is more than 100 years old; a spark in the wrong place could destroy it in minutes.

In an email response to Crabby, Harry said he didn’t know who could have done this (really!?) and showed no evidence of concern.

As each of these incidents has occurred, Crabby has, in various moods and levels of anger, asked politely, demanded forcefully and she has lost it completely a couple of times, making a jerk of herself by shouting when these people have refused to take responsibility for the problems and, in the case of Harry, when he insists his son hasn't done these things.

In the time following the recent cellar burning, Crabby has become nervous about what will occur next since, apparently, there is no end to the nuisances, violations and disgusting behavior Dick can think up.

Here is Crabby’s dilemma: Although there is language in the condominium by-laws forbidding owners to do or allow anything to be done that is unlawful, disturbs or endangers other owners, lowers the value of the property, etc., the only penalty is a $25 fine after various notifications, re-notifications, waiting periods, etc. Nothing that is effective.

Does anyone have any ideas about what a Crabby Old Lady can do to get out from under this continuing nightmare?

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Sylvia Kirkwood has contributed a timely story titled A Personal Look at Color.]


Can't offer any concrete help I'm afraid, but you might want to look at this web site for similar horror stories and perhaps therefore some guidance on how others have handled them.


Sounds like a nightmare which will only be really resolved when Dick or you moves away. Couldn't you sell your apartment and perhaps afford a small house (no shared obligations) in the other Portland? Apologies if that is totally impossible money-wise, I have no idea of current house prices in US.

Ronni, I could not live under those conditions. As soon as possible make a move. I know this will be a while because of all that is going on in the world.
But start looking and planning. There is no way you can spend your retirement years in these type of conditions. Just reading all that you are experiencing is giving a headache. I am so sorry this is happening.

I sympathize. Been there; done that; suffered sleep deprivation. Do you have a noise ordinance in Portland? Call the cops. Maybe they'll get a clue. Even so, it's a losing battle. Sigh.

I realize with the real estate market the way it is, selling isn't an option -- and last night's news made it worse.

A bit of comic relief: When my daughter was in college, she lived in a coed dorm and the boys below her had the stereo from hell. One night she said to her roomie, "I'm sick of this!" And she went to her closet, pulled out her Louisville Slugger and slung it over her shoulder, went downstairs with fire in her eyes, and knocked on their door. When they answered, she said, "Hi! I've come to fix your stereo." Problem solved.

While normally I loathe the quick rush to "lawyer up", maybe the time has come. Even though it looks like there are little penalties condo-wise, mental anguish and fear for your safety and well being comes to mind as a reasonable start. Can you talk to Tom and maybe go in together to hire someone to start sending legal letters to the parents? After seeing photos of your condo inside, you have carved such a lovely niche for yourself I would hate to see you move. But, again, that might be the only answer.
So, so sorry. These types of things can consume your every waking thought.

I feel your pain! Unfortunately, I can't suggest any solution beyond moving, and that might not be possible. I'm afraid those older buildings don't have the soundproofing advantages built into new condo buildings like mine. And thoughtless, inconsiderate people have always existed. I'm so sorry about your plight, but I have nothing to suggest. Calling in law enforcement might even make things worse. How about finding the young man a wife or significant other who will encourage him to move to a larger place?

I know that sometimes 'names are changed to protect the innocent' ala Jack Webb, but isn't it possible to use the power of public shaming with this jerk? He doesn't sound innocent to me!

I also know, it's a question that only a lawyer can answer. Sigh.

OK, I'm still thinking... How about recording all the violations whenever possible with a digital camera and make sure that Dick/Harry see you doing it. Carry it and a tape recorder whenever you have to talk to either one. They don't have to be used; just seen. Is there a Code Violation Officer in Portland? Perhaps he has an email address?

This young man - and his parents - are obviously consideration-challenged and classless. I have in the past, owned rental property which, on occasion was mistakenly rented to individuals who misrepresented themselves. Cops, courts, lawyers, code inspectors - nothing whatsoever worked until a young fellow from one of the recovery programs that I was overseeing at the time who knew of my plight took matters into his own hands and threatened the inconsiderate tenant that he would "kick the sh*t out of him. The tenant became a pussy cat - and a responsible one, at that - overnight. There are some people in the world, unfortunately, who simply cannot and do not think rationally or reasonably, and in order to communicate with them, you apparently have to lower yourself to their levels of functioning. My son-in-law, while a very nice fellow who wouldn't hurt a flea and captures house flies in glasses and sets them gently outside, is a black belt karate instructor - he's 6'4, built like a truck, and I suspect could be very convincing if he were to "have a little chat" with your downstairs neighbor. A nice chat - and one that will get the point across resoundingly. If you don't have anyone similar in your neck of the woods, let me know. Fall is a nice time for a little family drive up to Portland. I have a real dislike of folks who go around making the lives of those around them miserable. (And basically, I'm a very nice person whom you would never suspect of harboring such extreme solutions.)

My first thought was something that probably couldn't be written about on a PG rated blog, but I tend to agree with Zoe. I wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of her.

Otherwise, find Dickface's weakness and exploit it somehow.


I read daily although rarely comment - yet this post resonates clearly from past experience.

Three options come to mind... move, rent out your condo and move or start calling the authorities.

Find your local police's local number so that you do not have to utilize the 911 service. Use it for the noise and parking - save/ask for all police reports. Send copies of reports to the condo board with attached note saying that you have made many attempts at resolving these issues with no result.

This takes time - yet, eventually you may be able to make a civil court suit against the condo board. One can expect a reasonable environment and with what you have written - you don't have one. Many attorney's offer a free consultation - I would look into this.

As to moving, that is a decision that would require a lot of thinking - re-thinking and more thinking.

Hope this is of some help.


Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire.

We lived in the city in a house in the middle of the row. My husband would come home from work and park in front of our house and then others would fill up the rest of the spaces.

We had a neighbor who would wait until we went out in the evening and had to take the car. He would go out and pull his car up just enough to take up two spaces and when we came home we would have to drive around forever to find a place to park.

Roy waited until just the right moment to set this jerk straight. He watched until the neighbor came home first and parked. Then Roy took our car and pulled up right on to this guy's back bumper. Then he got the other neighbor to pull his car up to the guy's front bumper, pinning him in.

At 6 A.M. the next morning it was snowing like mad and we watched the nasty neighbor go out to get in his car. He could not believe his eyes. There was NO WAY he could get out. He knocked on our door and we didn't answer. He pounded on the other neighbors door and he didn't answer.

Defeated, he had to WALK to the train station 8 blocks away and that was the LAST time he ever messed with us. It was all done without saying one word to him.

Is there anything you can do to this guy?

I am utterly astounded that you've managed to function this long with that going on. Has it ever happened while you've had guests? They should write to the chamber of commerce and say they were considering living there but after visiting you and hearing what you've been subjected to that they think not.
Guns are good but you're probably not licensed. Sigh. (this is a joke - anyone out there thinking this is a working solution!)
Definitely alert the fire dept. They take the smell of fire seriously.
Whatever you do, remember: paper trails are always important. You never know if they can be of use. Record everything you witness, do, or say.

Have you talked this over with Tom? What does he say?

I surely sympathize with you Ronni, having such a horrible downstairs neighbor. My sister and I share a single family home, but next door a young couple and college kids rent the house and all too often have parties and leave bottles and other junk in the street in front of our house, and kids have stolen our Obama for President yard sign several times. We reported all this to the police and a neighborhood watch program here, but we also installed a surveillance camera to watch over our front yard and our Obama yard sign (which we kept replacing). Sure enough at the next party we caught the culprit from next door on video stealing our Obama sign. Since we had already complained to the police, and put a "No Trespassing" sign up, the police responded, the culprit was identified as from next door's party. The police visited our neighbors with stern warnings, and also my sister called the owners and visited the neighbors - and they all apologized. We think things will be a lot better from now on.

You can purchase a PC linked video surveillance camera and software for about $300 at a discount electronics store. We hooked it all up to my spare laptop and it works beautifully. Maybe you could do the same and position the camera from your balcony looking down on the areas where the trash is left after parties and also catch Dick doing other disagreeable stuff. Let them see that you have a surveillance camera. :-) Anyway, it may help. Don't give up; report all disturbances to the local police so there is a record.

With the current economic and housing situation, moving is pretty much out of the question and a very last resort. Try not to let frustration and anger at Dickie-boy consume your days! It is so frustrating when you feel powerless - but you are NOT powerless.

Dick, Harry and Louise are insensitive louts and nothing, but nothing, will get through to them except fear and a raid on their pocketbook.

I, therefore, agree that legal action or law enforcement are the only answers. Call the police when the party is in full swing. If the police don't come, write letters to the mayor, councilmen, the fire chief (re: Dick being a fire hazard with his careless smoking) and the local editor. Carefully document everything you can on video and if all else fails sue the b-------.

The final option is to move, but I wouldn't be driven out of my home by a obnoxious slob unless it is necessary to save my sanity.

Horrible situation, Ronni. But I won't offer suggestions on how to get back at these poop heads.

No. Rather I will suggest STRONGLY that you do whatever it takes to move back to NY City, where you belong, even if it means contacting your ex, and figuring out how you could possibly share a space without animosity, or find a place in a cheaper, but SAFE area of NY City.

You know you don't belong sandwiched between an arsehole and a peckerhead. Use your creative smarts and find your way home.

Portland is beautiful, but NY City is your home.

Research going home, find your spot, and then sell your Portland condo.

You only live once. The clock is ticking.

I just got back from NY City, and can see exactly what you love about it.

You can do it. My mom's best pal moved from Halifax to Montreal at 88.

Don't let a stupid number stop you.

Getting the law, or seeking revenge will only escalate your unhappiness and bring on more immature retaliations.

Don't go there.

Focus on going home and make it happen.

That's my advice.

Big hug. Now, like the Beatles said"

"get back to where you once belonged."

I googled "Maine Condominium" and found links to an 'Act' that might offer some suggestions. You've probably already found it, but...

I agree that you should document as much as possible, including this post link, for possible lawsuit. and I agree that the advice of a lawyer might be a great idea.

How awful for you. I hope something sparks a right answer for you. Good luck.

Having been through a similar situation with an apartment rental some years back, I do understand the misery. His behavior being passive aggressive is scary and it could escalate. If you can move, that's what I suggest because that kind of person is not healthy to live near emotionally and sounds like it could be even physically dangerous. His parents may constantly support him out of fear of him. I wish I could say something concrete here to help but it would scare me to be around that kind of weird behaving person. Passive aggressive behavior is not nothing. It's a shame where you own a condo you like in so many other ways

Your neighbor and family are too old to expect a personality change.


Wow. I'm in a rush right now to finish preparing brunch for blogger Citizen K and his wife who are coming by.

Later, I'll go over all these comments and explain, but the one thing that is impossible is to rent or move.

Thanks to all who have commented so far. Back to you later this morning or early afternoon...

I would look for city laws he's breaking. I'd call the police about the noise. If the city has laws about cleaning up after pets or ways to bag up trash, I'd report him for those violations. I'd take photos and recordings of everything and start sending them to his parents on a daily basis. I'd ask the police if they could tow his car when he blocks you in the driveway. I'd talk to the fire dept about the fire in the basement. I'd make sure the cops went to his door every single time the noise got loud. Forget the pink bathrobe, send a cop.

It sounds awful. I, too, say you can't move in this economy. I would consult a lawyer. I think violation of the bylaws could be something the lawyer could address. Maybe a lawyer's letter to the owners (parents) would scare that self-centered jerk into compliance.

Ask the fire department to assess the situation and speak to the owners, citing code violations.
Each city has 'codes' check these.

I have a neighbor who's wife works for the police department. They have been good neighbors for many years - but -
Her husband built himself a car, a show off Loud car which he delighted in revving - for long periods of time right outside my bedroom window.
While his wife was at work he would fire up all manner of noisy machinery and blast away any semblance of peace and quiet.
I called saying, "That's enough, stop the noise!", put QUIET PLEASE signs in the window facing his driveway. Most of the neighbors work during the day so I began to despair that it would never end.
Then they decided that the tree growing just on my side of their driveway was causing their driveway to buckle and made plans to have my tree cut down and only charged me $1000. to have it removed. They had chopped on the roots making it unstable, ergo it had to come down. They have a fireplace and have lots of firewood now.
Finally some new neighbors moved in on the other side of me and the next thing I knew Police were writing tickets.
I stumbled upon city codes and made copies of those pertaining to said neighbors.
We no longer speak and I am sad to lose them as good neighbors, but at least I can take a nap in the afternoon.
Your stamina is to be applauded Ronni. How about trading houses with a friend who can better deal with this problem?

You can park further back in the driveway so that he doesn't have room to pull in behind you.

Call the fire marshall for the fire smell, the health inspector for the dog poo, animal rescue for the treatment of the dog, and call the police every time he blasts you out of bed. If they make his life miserable enough, he may move.

Ah Ronni--how sad and serious that these creepy louts should plague you! I'd recommend looking again at that perceived absolute, that you can't move. I remember a comment of yours that you were considering Portland, Oregon at one time. I'd be glad to help you with many friends there and anywhere you go, & I'll bet your readers would help if they can, too!

I was being literally spirit-killed by inches by an administrator who had it out for me (and others she couldn't micromanage), and I sadly retired early, leaving a very good academic job with students I dearly loved, because continuing with such a soul-destroying boss was NOT bearable for another semester.

Three years later, I know it was a dire necessity to leave, and that I'd gotten out by the skin of my teeth, albeit with some deep scars.

But I DID it--I had to, and now amazing joys are available for my new life (see rambling, pet-filled blog). You CAN do it, too! You've asked, now receive all the realm of suggestions, and just maybe, a way to move WILL emerge clearly as another new option...

Keep us posted whatever you do, and maybe consider your strategies in phases, with decision points built in along the way as you try options.... btw, Portland Oregon is my favorite city on the planet, and it's much warmer than New England!

Love, ~Kathi

How is Tom involved in solving these problems? Except for the noise problem, which obviously is more of a problem for you than for him, the other offenses are a problem for him, too. Can you join forces to make an effort to deal with Dick?
The suggestion to record with digital camera or video, is a good idea. Good luck. Gladys

go after the parents. There may not be nuisance laws but there are harassment laws and endangerment laws. Get with Tom, you both have to do this. I agree with others who have said document everything with photos. Contact your fire dept to do inspection and tell them about the fires. Call the sanitation dept also about the garbage and the dog excrement and while you are at it, call the dog/cat protection unit and tell them he keeps the dog in and allows the dog to defecate in house.

Its a lot Ronni, but you are already having to deal with a lot. Take a deep breath, do not talk to this guy, do not say a word. Just document and then, get the lawyer and sue his parents for harassment, the sanitation and garbage issues, as causing potential harm and neglect.

Do it. Just do it, and stay calm. Sue for big numbers. Do background check on him and his parents, you may find something you can use. It is so sad to have to waste your time with this stuff but for your sanity, and well being, you must do this.

At the very least, cause a large enough response raucous that his parents will sell the condo.

As I said before, "Wow." I most appreciate knowing that I'm not nuts, that others think all this is outrageous too.

As I've discussed and complained about it all over these two years with Harry and Louise, I get nothing more than shrugs - verbal or email - and suggestions to talk with Dick.

Dick apologizes and then continues the same behavior, so much so, I don't bother to talk with him anymore.

A couple of days ago, he sent an email around with a photograph of marks on his door from where I had pounded with my keys after 15 minutes because my knuckles were raw and starting to bleed.

notdotdot: A couple of times guests have been startled awake with sudden crashingly loud music, but not often.

As much as it would be heaven for me to move back to NYC, I can't afford it. Even 400-square-foot studios go for more than a million dollars to buy and the same size rents for $2000 or more. Unless I win the lottery, New York is solidly in my past.

And I can't sell here for the time being. Every day more for sale signs go up, nothing is selling and even in the best of times, no buying or selling is done during the long winter months.

Plus, even if I could sell, right now I can't afford the loss I would have to take.

Tom isn't much help. Although he is sympathetic, he is "strongly non-confrontational" (if that's not an oxymoronic phrase) and just wants everyone to get along.

And as to parking further forward in the driveway, I've tried that. Dick just parks behind blocking the sidewalk.

I should have been documenting all this from the beginning, but you know, when things begin to happen, you don't know how far they will go or how many there will be. You try to be reasonable with people and in my case, there was no way to imagine some of the things that eventually happened.

I mean, who could guess someone would allow their dog to pee and crap all winter in the cellar?

Who would guess someone would allow garbage to pile up for nearly two months - and walk past it every day without doing anything?

Who could imagine that someone would start a fire in a basement of a 100-year-old, wood-frame house?

Etc. Etc.

Documentation and researching the laws and contacting the authorities are the only way I can see to go, but I'll have to start from scratch.

I so appreciate your responses. God, I'm exhausted from all this.

Ronni, I just hate this for you! I have great neighbors, and I know how much their niceness makes life better. The flip side is surely hell.


1) Police. Fire marshal. Animal control. Code enforcement. Call early, call often, and create documentation.

2) Condo board. Bring your police reports and any other evidence to meetings.

3) Lawyer--to sue parents and/or condo board.

4) Realtor. I bet they're "listing hungry" in this economy. It can't hurt to get their advice; interview more than one. People still have to move sometimes, and this may be one of those times, no matter what the economy is like.

Gosh Ronni, this is dreadful....like a Hitchcock movie!! And of course everyone has good rational suggestions, but I gotta' tell ya', I think I agree with Zoe! A big hulk of a guy (whose name is Soprano! kidding, just kidding!) would really do the trick in less time & with less aggravation. I've seen this done once.....it worked well & the other thing I've heard of working is to just have an attorney call or send a certified letter to the owners reminding them of their responsibility based on various law & code violations. The call must be from a real attorney tho', not a wanna' be!. However, the enforcer type just has to look scary......good luck.

BTW, as an aside: Last May when the housing market was so bad, we sold a beautiful home in less than 3 months. I know that it was mostly luck, but we did find someone who not only bought our home, but gave us a decent price so that we made a nice profit, too. The same happened to some neighbors around the same time. I tell you this, because while I really like Zoe's suggestion, I agree with Rain. These are very dangerous people who are toxic to your environment & may be dangerous to your health! Dee

I agree with some commenters: take photos of the offenses and save them up to show the association and the parents the proof of the action or nonaction. Make noise yourself, later than he does. Paula and Nancy had good advice. Barring all that, I'd move and I'd do it quickly.

Ronni, I remember your already mentioning this back in 2006 when I was around.
I'm so sorry this has been going on all this time. I thought maybe he had seen the light or grown out of it; but obviously it won't happen. Like kenju, I think you should take photos and bring them to the police.
This is a shame as your flat is absolutely lovely!

Ronni --
I totally sympathize with you in your situation. With all the things you do, I'm amazed you can live through all this, too, and maintain your sanity. And for all these months you haven't said anything about this before! You've gotten pounds of good advice -- I can't add more. But just be aware of how many people are sympathetic and pulling for you.

I've known other parents who were so convinced that their child was such a genius that he didn't need to be civilized. The best revenge would be if for some reason, economic or other, Dick had to move back in with them. And then they would see first hand the results of their having refused to housebreak him.

Hah! I agree with the commenters suggesting intimidation.

I thought I would never say that. I was always a person who cherishes reason and civility in trying to work out differences with other people-until about 8 years ago.

I moved into my house and had the neighbor from h---.

After 2 years of putting up with the shenanigans and trying to get the local authorities involved, I took matters into my own hands.

I confronted the neighbor with threats-most of which I could not really pull off, but threats nonetheless. They were ridiculous in a way, but I wanted this neighbor to be scared of what I was willing to do; the lengths to which I was prepared to go.

Guess what? It all turned around. I had the upper hand all of a sudden and the problems stopped.

There were a few more rounds during the next couple of months where I had to be forceful and even mean.

But that pretty much ended it.

This may not work for you, but it may be worth trying.

I'm also for documenting everything that goes on, as that will certainly help your case.

But I feel like I figured out something important with this situation.

I was a woman, alone, and decided to stand up for what I thought was right. When the local authorities didn't provide me help, I just decided to fight fire with fire.I was on solid ground and she was intimidated. Not the way I would like things to be, but necessary for my peace of mind.

We are still neighbors and I haven't had a problem with her for the last 7 years.

Continue to document. Call the police each and every time over the noise; call the fire dept and ask them to inspect the premises--let them deal with this guy from there.
Go to the condo board and ask them to change the bylaws or regulations to a stiffer, more strict set of rules re noise, pets and poop, fires, parking etc. Push them hard to make the changes. Then make sure they follow through when the changes are made. If necessary, call the board members when the noise occurs and ask them to handle it! As well as for the other problems--they will soon get tired of your calls and start talking to this character.
Park as far back on the drive as you can; when he blocks you, call the police and ask them to call a tow service and have him ticketed and towed--I'm pretty sure it is illegal to park on a sidewalk. Make him responsible for his actions. I hope this helps!

I would definitely consult an attorney, and take this blog with you, as at least partial documentation. There are lawyers who specialize in this sort of thing, and your local or state bar association should be able to give you some names.

"Call the fire marshall for the fire smell, the health inspector for the dog poo, animal rescue for the treatment of the dog, and call the police every time he blasts you out of bed. If they make his life miserable enough, he may move."

Good advice Ronni
I am sorry you are having to endure this lout and his no good family.
They probably tremble at the thought of Dick moving back with them.

Another vote here for documenting everything, calling the police, calling the fire department, calling every local government agency you can think of that might be able to help, including your councilman (or whatever the Portland equivalent is for a local elected official associated with a specific community).

It seems that your biggest problem is that the parents of the jerk own the place. There will always be three against two in any "negotiation." You've got to get some muscle behind you by bringing in the law and the lawyers. Sometimes there are organizations that will provide arbitration in landlord/tenant disputes, but I don't know if you can come up with any help in an ownership situation.

Rotten deal! Wish you could move.

I just want to add one more suggestion to all of the good ones you've been getting: documenting with photos and videos, getting an attorney to send a letter etc. etc.
Before you call the police when there's a reason to, stop in at the police station and make a personal contact with an individual officer -- ask how you can make a "nuisance" report and discuss your situation. I have found that if you go to them and ask for their "advice," the office who gives you advice will remember you and you can use his/her name if you ever have to call the station during an incident. And, yes, don't call 911. Call the station directly. The same would probably hold true for a visit to the nearest firehouse. Personal contacts tend to help get you the support from these agencies that you want and need and you'll have them on your side in any dispute.

Sell it or rent it out and move to Oregon. You didn't want to go to Maine anyway. The universe is sending you a message. Give this no more energy.

Oh, Crabby, how awful! First, I don't like the "lawyer up" idea either but that wasn't your first resort to solve the problem. It may be time. Look in your condo papers for the term "quiet enjoyment" ...that's a good one...and check the Fair Housing Act as it may apply. That's the rule people have used when tobacco smoke filters into condos from neighboring smokers. If you can, when it's your turn to use the driveway, park your car back far enough so there's no room to get behind it. Or put out a sign that says something like "By agreement of the owners, this is my week. Violators will be towed." Don't know if you can actually do it but the sign alone might work!

Ronni, Linda is spot on. Document everything. Get some paper on them. It's the only way to get them into arbitration at least. I have no idea if that's an option in Maine, but I had to hire a lawyer and use photos my sister had taken of me and demolished truck after my big wreck to get more than a 2K offer from the insurance company.

Dedicate a journal to it and note the incident, your attempt at remediation, Whosits response, outcome, with the date and your signature.

In the meantime, do invest in some ear plugs, you need to get your sleep--take care of yourself whatever you choose to do.

Hugs and lullabys to you :(

Elaine's suggestion is quite sage, as in healing. It's your community, not whosits, if he won't behave. Establishing rapport with your local security is an expedient measure for many reasons.

And may I reiterate what many have said, do take extra good care of yourself, whatever you choose to do.

We had noisy music playing obnoxious neighbours.

We made a tape of all the most horrid loud noises we could find.
Fire engines, sirens, rock music, etc.

Put it on in a loop with speakers right up against wall and ceiling, switched it all on and went away for two weeks.

Guess what - no more noise, no more rubbish, and they moved within six months.

Fight 'fire with fire'

Buy stink bombs and put them next to the door on the floor so the smell invades their condo.

Wait till its his week to park the car and let the tires down everyday

They have no proof its you.

Don't talk to them at all - just harass them.

Don't get mad - get even.

Hi Ronni,
I don't think you should try to fight this on your own, it would make me sick to my stomach with stress if it were my problem. There is a senior citizen resource center in Portland and I think you should try to find some help through them. And it is also a good idea to talk to the local police so they know what you are going through. The link I found in Portland is

You need some people who are not involved to back you up here so you don't feel alone dealing with it. You don't want to get into a situation where you do something and he does something worse etc. What you do need is some help from someone with some power so this guy knows you are not on your own against him.
My mother was having problems with my adult brother who is emotionally a teenager. He is involved with some people using him. Long story, but she went and talked to the local police (small town, they know everyone) and it helped immensely when my brother was caught up in some stupid situations with these people. In Maine too, when people know who you are it is just going to be better. So I would get out there and talk to people. Let this guy see people coming to see you and if you can get someone from Senior Citizen Resources to come calling on him it might knock some sense into him without starting a personal war. And I personally know a disaster rescue vet for the State of Maine if you need info on how to deal with that.

Francine is right on. You want to move, the universe wants you to move and this is just more proof.

The daily stress you must be under is unacceptable for your health!

There are lots of excellent and humorous suggestions here. The intimidation concept brings a short story to mind.

When my daughter was in 2nd grade "Ron" had her in his cross hairs. He constantly harassed her and in a cruel and secretive, manipulative way that normally got both of them into trouble when she would report it to the teachers.

Nothing was ever done, Ron continued his dastardly deeds making my daughter have stomach aches in the morning getting ready for school.

We devised a plan. At first, Lauren was appalled at my suggestion, but after a couple more weeks of Ron-abuse, she tried my solution and it worked beautifully.

What I had her do, was, at at time when Ron was doing NOTHING to her at all, she was to scream at the top of her lungs that Ron was hitting her.

It only took ONE time. Ron was no more a problem to her after that.

I'll leave it up to your capable imagination to consider what Dick could possibly "do" to you next, to get everyone's attention.

Good Luck (and move my friend, your soul is begging you to do so, even with all of the roadblocks in your way!)

You know, I may have come across as some kind of vindictive, low-class harridan back in my original comment, but I've got to tell you that all of these suggestions - videotaping, documenting, retaliating with noise and stinkbombs, going to various and sundry authorities for each different violation, etc., etc., so on and so forth sound pretty exhausting to me, and just going through all of these motions (none of which is guaranteed to work, mind you) represents a full-time job. You'll note that when you are sleep-deprived from upstairs noise, and stressed out from worrying about your house burning down, and nauseated from smelling dog poop 24/7, it's HARD TO MAINTAIN A FULL TIME JOB -along with researching and writing this daily blog, which is another full-time job. And we are no spring chickens, here, with boundless energy to be multi-multi-MULTI-tasking like that. Also, calling in code enforcement people not only inconveniences the downstairs neighbor, but remember - this is a case of joint ownership in a property - whatever violations are found, ALL OF THE OWNERS are responsible for bringing that property into compliance. I've seen these things backfire hugely and cost the complainant, no matter how justified the complaints, thousands of dollars in his/her own money. I STILL say having the appropriate person put the fear of God (and Ronni) into this no-goodnik is what will work. As I mentioned before, while we all try our best to handle things in a civilized manner and through the *proper* channels, if we are dealing with uncivilized morons, we have to meet them where they live - no pun intended. Now, if you don't like having a tough-looking dude *chat* with him, you're just going to have to make yourself seem ominous and threatening, Ronni. Know anything about witchcraft? VooDoo? You could start hanging little bags of herbs and dirt and insect wings and bone (I think chicken bones are okay) on his door and start chanting loudly in your apartment - drumming is good, too - and maybe even make yourself a little poppet doll to stick pins in and leave somewhere visible to him. Odds are if you stick a pin in it's throat, he'll start imagining that his throat hurts, and then you're good to go. Once he thinks you're putting curses and spells on him, he'll start feeling weird, and before you know it, he'll be begging you to remove the spell and set him free - you make his freedom conditional upon his either becoming a model homeowner or moving out altogether. Of course, getting a thug to *talk* to him is quicker and easier, and less effort on your behalf, and that's the truth.

You are a saint. I would either have burned him in his bed or committed hari-kiri by now.

I have no solutions to add the excellent ones already presented. I would add a caveat about viewing selling as the way out. In some states, such as the one in which I live, there are some fairly strict laws about failing to reveal a prospective defect in the property. This law has been interpreted to mean failing to reveal multiple cop visits to a home on the same block or the kid who plays drums, and has made sellers liable for damages. If you decide to move, the extent of disclosure needed is something else to check with a real estate attorney.

Best wishes, Ronni. The situation sounds dreadful.

Call Homeland Security.

Tell them you have observed several "foreign" types coming and going from Dick's place all hours of the night.

Park your car just barely into the driveway, so that there is no room for another car.

Print a sign to tape in your back glass of the car to read:


Include Tom in your plans, and though this will be annoying to you as well, place several stereo speakers with a lot of subwoofers and bass right on your floor, use as many as your sound system will allow.

Purchase the soundtrack to the original Star Wars. Wait until all is quiet downstairs and Dick-For-Brains is sleeping.

Turn on the sound system full force for at least a good blast of noise.

Then, quickly hide all evidence in case the cops show up at your place. If Dick-For-Brains complains, act quite innocent and tell him you never heard anything last evening.

He'll insist you were playing Star Wars theme outrageously loud.

Here's where you use your age and noodle: "Come on! Do I look like I would own a Star Wars movie soundtrack CD and play it in the middle of the night?" Be very ludicrous.

Repeat a couple of nights later with Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.

Oh, and for fun, get a broomstick and pound on the floor with three rapid hard taps in various spots around your floors. Like Morse code. In the middle of the night.

Just don't repeat too often so that Dick-For-Brains uses whatever speck of cerebral matter he owns to record his own evidence.

Failing this, I would fall back on another commentor's suggestion to hire Cousin Guido and his band of merry hairy thugs to make a visit to impart some gentlemanly suggestions.

For real, this has got to be beyond maddening.

Hi Ronnie,
I'm surprised you lasted this long.I would go to a real estate agent and seek their advice.They could put your condo on the market and find you a better place.My prayers are with you.Good luck.
Love, Vera


Two things:

Consult a maine lawyer specializing in Condo law and find out what rights you have, especially if Tom is willing to join you. You may have none, some or alot. I have no idea. A consult of this type should run you no more than $250-400.

Second, sell. The condo market in Portland seems stable and given the prices off the peninsula you should be able to have the sale/purchase be a wash. We purchased a home in the Deering neighborhood of Portland out near the State Armory for under $225K with 4 bedrooms, 1 1/2 baths and a quarter of an acre of land. Another house in the same vicinity sold for under $180K.

Living closely to others can surely be challenging at times, but, what you are experiencing is over the top. Other than moving (which you should not have to do) documenting everything and presenting all to the proper authorities seems the immediate sensible thing to do.
It sounds as though Harry and Louise will do anything it takes to keep their distance from Dick.

Use your age. Contact the media, both print and broadcast and interest them in a story of a persecuted elder in Portland. You might have to wait for this winter's dog poop or maybe not.

If there's a chance Dick's folks will get bad media exposure, perhaps things might change.

Hello Ronnie...

Firstly, I believe that Darlene has beautifully pointed you in the right direction...get thee home to NEW YORK CITY!!! You have obviously left your heart in that wonderous place...and you have found nothing but obstacles to your happiness in your cramped condo in Portland. My question to you is this...have you searched your soul as to just why you are choosing to stay there...embroiled in constant combat with "the enemy below" ? One guess, might perhaps be that "Crabby Old Lady" is attached in some way to all the drama and brou-ha-ha that the two of you are creating around one another...there's nothing like participating in a good power struggle to wake up the brain...get the dopamine and adrenalin flowing.. and oh...there you have it... don't we feel so very ALIVE again ! ! !

Could this be why you continue to dance the dance with the guy downstairs. As you have described it...it is he, who is certainly the jerk in all this drama... and you are indeed the victim of his demonstrable "jerkitude". Why continue playing the victim?
All of this begs the obvious question...with all of your experiences in attempting to intervene in his reprehensable behaviors...why haven't you as yet learned from them... that you aren't going to succeed at changing his fundamentally flawed personality and the subsequently aberrant behavior that follows? Your energy and power in this drama would be far better spent at extacting yourself from a place that you are so obviously miserable in.

Ronnie...Girlfriend...You are too brilliant a woman not to see this for youself. You are CHOOSING to continue to "dance the dance" of the dark side with this partner from hell. Get thee instead back to your juicy roots in NYC...and use those still juicy parts of Yourself to dive back into the life you were meant to be leading.
You CAN always go home...you CAN figure a way to make it happen for yourself. Stop distracting yourself with the jerk downstairs...don't trade the life that you can create for youself in NYC...for an acrimonious Crabby Old Lady existence in the cramped condo over the jerk downstairs. Why the heck you would ever want to continue doing so...absolutley eludes me.

Get thee to New York Dear Sister...no excuses...no delays...no negativities of thought...in making it happen for Yourself. I'll support you fom here in any way that I can ... as will I am sure many of your Sisters who are reading this.

You asked to consult with us about your situation. You have received many thoughtful ideas...now what ae YOU going to do...and how may we support you in implementing the "doing" of it?

The Possibilities Are Exciting,


Hi Sophia. I was the one advising Ronni to get back to where she once belonged.

Your advice is excellent. Why should Ronni waste her time on this immature crap when she has a full retired life to live?

Sure she could fight and push, but what for, when she doesn't even want to be there?

Good energy wasted on 2 boneheads.

Upstairs guy is also a bonehead for not helping Ronni, rather than sitting it out.

Ronni should find her way home.

I believe her condo would sell if priced right.

And if Ronni decides to stay where she is, I'd get a real estate agent to find her a tiny one person HOME with her own driveway and etc.

Ronni, you are the boss of you.

Poor pup. Dogs like a clean spot to go. Your local animal abuse people should respond to that story.

As to the car thing, if he parks you in, call a taxi, and then send him the bill and insist he pay up. If he doesn't send the parents the bill, and if they don't pay up, take em to small claims court.

For the music thing, definitely the cops. There's gotta be a noise ordinance he's violating. Don't bother calling yourself, you've tried, just send the cops.

And lastly, karma is a bitch. It will catch up with him. ;^) Enjoy it when it happens.

I’m not too keen on retaliation, but thumbs up for the recommendations for you and Tom to team up and report offenses to the police and other enforcement agencies. Document everything with time, day, event and video or tape record instances, if possible. Loud music at 2 a.m.? Report it and hold out the phone for the dispatcher to hear. Consider investing in a hidden security camera for the basement and get the lead run to your computer or a TV to record the antics. Better still; get a security system (including fire alarms for each floor) for the entire building with the cost shared by the homeowners association. Blocked driveway? Call the police and have Junior ticketed or towed for illegal parking. Get legal advice. Stay away from Dickie, Mommy and Daddy; it will only make matters worse. When it starts to cost the parents, maybe they will find sonny boy another place to live. Obviously they don’t want their little genius to live with them! I once had a neighbor who “rescued” feral cats and felt it was her right to let them roam free. Neighboring yards became their poopy palaces, they wiped out most of the squirrel population and any cars parked outside overnight were adorned with kitty footprints and scratched trunks. Open garage doors were invitations to spray. When her pussy population got up to 13 (legal limit is four pets), neighbors started trapping and delivering their bounty to Animal Control. The kitty-collecting neighbor retrieved so many cats so many times (with escalating fines), that her reputation reached the head of Animal Control. She was told that if one more of her cats were brought in(three neighbors bagged four in one day), all her cats would be removed. Two months later neighbor, hubby, two dogs, and fifteen cats moved to another county on enough property for the cats to poop and live in peace. We neighbors now speak of the “Great Cat Wars of ’07” when reminiscing about the good ‘ol days. Moral: You can’t deal with stupid people. Take legal action to make it costly for Dickie and his parents.

Excellent idea about informing the media. Senior abuse! Wow! I LOVE that one.

Poopypants below Ronni might have other skeletons in his closet..he wouldn't want splayed out on the local news.

Nor would his parents want their happy (without Poopypants) lives shot into the spotlight as parents of a senior abuser.

PLEASE, Ronni, if all else fails, do contact tv, radio, etc.

Keep this thread going.

I'll be back with a story about the first day dh and I moved into our home.

Neighbor story.

I'm in shock that you have continued to be exposed to this toxic environment all this time without some satisfactory resolution -- a living nightmare. I would think the men in the little white jackets would have long ago carted you away. I don't know how you've managed to keep up such a high quality of writing here as you have. (Reminds me of that Michael Keaton movie "Pacific Shores" was the name of it, I think.)

Sounds like your situation may have become a real power struggle for your neighbor with you. I could speculate on all sorts of scenarios, but without knowing more about him, I can only wonder how capable he is of functioning within what most of us consider the normal limits of social behavior.

Frankly, I wonder if he has some sort of personality disorder, or other behavioral deficits his parents choose to excuse or describe to others as being "genius" qualities. His living alone in this condo they bought him may be their answer to not only get him out of the family home, but is an experiment in seeing if he can successfully live independently. Does he work and, if so, what sort of work is he capable of, or is he in college? Where did he go to high school and what can be known about whether or not he might have been in special classes? So many unknowns to decipher his mental state.

Wonder if he regularly lubricates himself excessively, then the carryover effects could account for those times when he simply doesn't care what he does? Wonder if he's on meds of any kind which with alcohol or other substances could make his behavior even worse?

His behavior sure sounds like more than youthful rebellious social adjustment problems, as he clearly demonstrates judgment issues. He has engaged in irrational property/life threatening behaviors that defy common sense with that fire. His actions suggest much more than just emotionally immature behavior. Maybe he's a person who legally should be required to have adult supervision.

All of that means nothing, since the question is what do you do? I would hate to see your life be all-consumed by taking actions centered around him any more than it already is.

The ideal solution would be if he no longer lived there, but doesn't sound as though the odds are too good that could happen. You're in a Catch 22 situation.

You are faced with the hard choices that none of them are what you want. What you may have to do is select the one that is the least noxious. I would strongly urge you to give your personal health the top consideration. Remember, mind, body and spirit are all connected and this constant stress which has clearly become distress is health-threatening. So, my first recommendation is you get out to cut your losses.

You say that is impossible, and I can understand your reasons for not doing so. Perhaps even if you were able to return to your beloved NYC you would have to accept circumstances much less attractive and different from what you had. We make sacrifices sometimes that are not always in our own best interests, even from a health standpoint, hoping if we can just hold on, we can make the future situation change and improve. That's a gamble.

If you stay where you are, follow-up consulting with some of the sources suggested in comments sounds like a good idea. Ideally, I'd say hire an attorney or you'll need to devote your time and energy to thoroughly researching all laws, regs, from your condo by-laws to city, county or other laws to determine exactly what rights you have and don't have.

I think you would want to give serious second thoughts to doing anything directed toward this young man that could be used by him to discredit you including some of the covert, or confrontational actions suggested by others. Could he say your actions were a form of harassing him since already he has brought up the "keys knocking on the door" damage?

Also, as some have mentioned, do be careful you don't damage your capability for being able to sell your Condo, should you try to do so while he lives there.

Remember, your actions might be morally justifiable but legally allowable can be another matter. All too often it is not enough to be right, and justice too often does not prevail for the wronged. Determine your legal rights and limitations so you don't get burned.

Now, all that said I think you should just ..... censored! ..... the creep.

How awful....Time for Judge Judy???
You need a lawyer....do a point by point letter to each agency in your area that covers the violations and a copy to the police...

There are laws against all of those and especailly the noise OMG...that is why I took a reverse mortgage to keep my single family QUIET house...I do not have nerve and would not know how to confront that horrow.
There is a nice house for sale on my street in Brockton, Ma....single family - four bedrooms....Ollie could have his own room....two car garage...about $300,000

If you really want the "clown" to stop clowning, maybe it's time for Dr. Phil!

Parking in front of a driveway or across the sidewalk is probably illegal. Possibly you could have his car ticketed whenever parked there.
Even better, have his car towed away the next time it blocks yours. As soon as you see it--don't wait until you have to leave! Does he also block Tom? Ask Tom to do the same.

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