You can't always choose your neighbors. And in some cases, your neighbors can make your life at home miserable. Neighbors who are particularly nosey can frustrate you by continually prying into your personal and professional life. Some nosey neighbors may take their prying ways to a new level and peer into your life through your windows, doors or even by using modern technology that is readily available. You have the right to deal with neighbors who invade your privacy.
Collect evidence of your neighbor's spying behavior. Being a so-called "peeping Tom" is considered to be a kind of voyeurism and is illegal in most municipalities. In addition, "Stephanie's Law" was signed into law in 2003 in New York after a landlord was caught videotaping Stephanie Fuller in her apartment. The onus of proof, however, is on the individual who believes a neighbor is spying on her. Proof can be collected by hiring a private detective or collecting photos or other evidence to support your suspicions.
Confront your neighbor about the alleged spying. This can depend on how comfortable you feel interacting with your neighbor. Confrontation, however, can be effective in letting your neighbor know that you are aware of the spying. It may be enough to discourage your neighbor from continuing to spy on you. Confrontation should be done with safety in mind. When explaining your concerns to your neighbor, stick to facts and don't infer anything. Keep in mind that inferring that your neighbor is doing something can be turned around and may even lead to allegations against you for false accusations.
Consult with a legal professional. If you believe that your neighbor is spying on you, consulting with a legal professional can provide you with the next course of action. If using an attorney is prohibitively expensive, you may be able to consult with a local legal aid organization that may offer pro bono lawyers and paralegals for advice. If possible, bring any evidence with you when you meet with the legal professional, in order to provide a comprehensive picture of the problem.
Speak with law enforcement, your landlord or homeowners association representative. Armed with any evidence you have collected, going to the appropriate authorities also puts the responsibility of dealing with your spying neighbors in their hands. Regardless of the authority you choose, be sure to have them provide you with documentation that you have made a complaint. Law enforcement and the homeowners association may also provide you with a case number that you can refer to in order to check on the progress of your complaint.
- Not Bored: Stephanie's Law
- New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services: Stephanie's Law
- Community Associations Institute: Building Better Communities
- American Bar Association: Chapter 7: Love Your Neighbor: How to Keep Petty Annoyances from Turning into Major Headaches
- National District Attorneys Association: Voyeurism Statutes 2009
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images