Gay couple wonders how to respond to neighbors’ petty harassment
DEAR AMY » I live in a condo building with my girlfriend (we are gay), in a large city. We’ve lived here for three years.
Our neighbors (a married couple in their 60s or 70s) have been rude and standoffish ever since we moved in. They ignore us when we greet them and typically just glare at us. We’ve always been considerate neighbors, so they have no reason to dislike us — beyond the obvious.
Recently, my girlfriend bought a rainbow-colored welcome mat for our front door.
Within a few days, we were informed that our neighbors had filed a complaint with the homeowners association, saying that the mat was an “eyesore.” The president of the HOA told us that the complaint was petty, and not to worry about it.
Since then, those neighbors have sent in over a dozen or so complaints — everything from false noise complaints, to (incorrectly) stating that we don’t dispose of our garbage correctly.
The HOA president has told us to work out our differences. My girlfriend wrote our neighbors a letter asking to have a dialogue with them. They never responded.
This has been dominating our lives. We refuse to move, and we love our place otherwise. How do we get these people to talk to us?
— Upset DEAR UPSET » It was very kind of you to react to this harassment by trying to talk it out, but why, oh why, do you want to force these people to talk to you? Their actions are speaking loudly enough.
You and your girlfriend should worry less about winning over your neighbors, and think more about the possible harassment suit coming down the pike if they don’t stop their campaign. (Ignoring you isn’t harassment; filing multiple false reports about you might be.)
The HOA should not encourage you to “work out your differences,” because according to you, you don’t have any differences. Instead, the HOA should start actively discouraging these people from filing untrue and malicious reports about you.
Cordially ignore these neighbors, document everything, and — if things don’t die down, you should consider speaking to a lawyer.