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Neighbor Complaint
updated: May 31, 2014, 4:00 PM

By Edhat Subscriber

A neighbor has distributed negative leaflets about me and my 8 year old son to mailboxes in my neighborhood. Several people have contacted me regarding the letter. Is this legal? Is it Libel? Is there anything I can do?

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 524106P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 04:11 PM

If I were you, I would have someone give me a copy of the letter. I would take it to an attorney to see what can be done. Any advice that you get here for free without even knowing the whole situation is worth exactly what you pay for it - nothing.


 COMMENT 524107 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 04:12 PM

It's Slander !!! Don't put up with it, don't tolerate it and Don't let someone do this to you, keep a copy of the papers and get a Lawyer FAST ! This is wrong on all levels.


 COMMENT 524109 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 04:20 PM

Doesn't it depend on the veracity of what the letter says? I mean if it's true you can't really tell someone what they can say about you, not that you have any control over what anyone says about you behind your back.... right, Edhatters?

I guess freedom of speech has more limitations than its second cousin, the one that immediately follows it.

If it's not true and it impugns your reputation then it's slander but you can only sue for damages and you have to prove there are any.

Sucky situation all around.


 COMMENT 524111 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 04:28 PM

Rule # 1: It's not slander if its true....


 JUKINJAY agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 04:35 PM

Libel if written, damaging to your reputation, and untrue. (Slander is spoken.)

It is probably "legal" in terms of freedom of the press. It isn't likely to be a crime unless inducement to violence or a threat. In other words the author isn't likely to go to jail for it. I suppose it could possibly be considered littering, but that's a stretch.

It may be actionable as a civil wrong, meaning that you can bring a lawsuit to collect money damages.

See a lawyer. I am not one. Any good lawyer isn't likely to advise you via the EdHat comment board.


 JUKINJAY agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 04:44 PM

Another possible crime would be if it was put in postal mailboxes without paid postage, again kind of a stretch.



 COMMENT 524118 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 04:49 PM

Get a lawyer.


 COMMENT 524120 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 04:54 PM

Perhaps you should talk to the neighbor? Take a copy of the letter and find out what possessed the person to do it. I am assuming, since you have posted it here..that this is not a letter which reflects positively on you and your 8 year old. Look for any truth in the letter, if there is something you need to change about yourself, or your child...something that is un-neighborly, then go thank the neighbor for pointing out this flaw and try to change it. Seems like at the very least you need to chat with the neighbor.


 COMMENT 524121 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 04:58 PM

Also, per the U.S. Postal Service, ". . . only authorized U.S. Postal Service delivery personnel are allowed to place items in a mailbox. By law, a mailbox is intended only for receipt of postage-paid U.S. Mail."


 COMMENT 524124P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 05:05 PM

A person that takes the time to compose a negative letter/leaflet has serious mental issues. Make a police report and/or get a quick restraining order. Regardless, have it on record so the next crazy thing this person does you can take further legal action.


 COMMENT 524127 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 05:09 PM

Just don't throw a shoe at him.


 COMMENT 524131P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 05:22 PM

GRITZ has the most common sense. If this a gun-toting nut case that lives near you, don't bother and see an attorney instead.


 COMMENT 524133 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 05:27 PM

Oh ya.... call the Postal Inspectors. Using the mail box without putting proper postage is against the law.

Talk with an attorney about the content of the letter.

If they preface it by saying..... "in my opinion..... blah blah blah.... " Everyone is entitled to their opinion....

And, you have to prove damages.

Let us know what happens


 COMMENT 524136 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 05:57 PM

I would contact the Police and ask them about filling out a Police Report so you have something on record.


 ROGER DODGER agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 06:08 PM

I'm with 124P on this one.


 COMMENT 524145 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 06:18 PM

This is why the good lord gave us middle fingers.


 COMMENT 524147 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 06:39 PM

Why don't you write a letter in response, and distribute it to the neighbors too? (Just don't use the mailboxes, as that's technically illegal).

What was the nature of the message they sent? Any truth to it?


 COMMENT 524152 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 06:58 PM

It's cray cray. That's what it is.


 COMMENT 524153 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 07:06 PM

I have some obnoxious neighbors that I am uncomfortable being face to face with, but distributing a complaint about them via neighborhood mailboxes isn't my style and sounds kind of weird.

If the police haven't yet been involved I would involve them now. Up to you. Good luck.


 COMMENT 524154 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 07:35 PM

If anything, it would be libel (written), not slander (spoken). However, if it's true or one's opinion, then it's legal (provided that the opinion isn't so offensive that it is disturbing your ability to secure/maintain employment, adversely affect your ability to conduct other business in your community, etc. If it does, then get an attorney (and be prepared to front some money in legal fees).


 COMMENT 524157 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 07:42 PM

Truth is the ultimate defense. But I am not sure that applies to your child. There might be a law that protects children. Yes the person committed mail fraud and this is serious. I am sorry this happened to you. Whatever the case the person hit below the belt as far as I'm concerned.


 COMMENT 524161P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 07:57 PM

My first thought is that this neighbor feels powerless to get you to stop whatever it is you're doing to annoy him/her. Have the two of you ever discussed anything having to do with his/her grievances against you?

I have neighbors who think nothing of being the most obnoxiously noisy people ever. We have had discussions about this and other things they've done to make our neighborhood less pleasant. Now we don't speak and I live for the day when they sell their house and move on.

However, I would never send out a letter about them. Perhaps your neighbor is trying to shame you into correcting your (perceived?) misbehavior?

Usually, most people will put up with a heck of a lot of annoyance before they confront the source. By then, there is a lot of pent up, frustrated anger.

Try talking with this neighbor, unless you are certain s/he is a nutter and/or you already tried to resolve your differences.

If you really believe that this person has no basis to be annoyed with you then, by all means, file a report and hire an attorney. On the other hand, I hope if you're the one neighbor who is making everyone else around you miserable, you will take stock and change whatever it is you're doing wrong.


 COMMENT 524162P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 08:06 PM

It is illegal to put any flyers in or ON residential or commercial mailboxes. There's a big fine for such distribution. However, if there's no address/email/phone # on the flyer . . .


 COMMENT 524172 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 08:21 PM

What's the letter say?


 COMMENT 524174 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 08:25 PM

161P's advice is sound counsel


 COMMENT 524182P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 08:37 PM

I'm like 172 here before I decide - What does the letter say you're doing that so annoys this neighbor? (Maybe they are "mental," but is/are there any shred(s) of truth in the accusation(s)?

Is any of it true? (That may be hard to admit if it is.)

If not & the neighbor is truly a hot head, I say consult an attorney & follow some of the advice posted here.

Please, do let us all know what happens, even if you are/were doing something that needed to be stopped as a good neighbor should.

Good luck!


 COMMENT 524189 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 08:55 PM

This is a tough call, not knowing you and everything, but I'm trying to think of what would make me do such a thing to my neighbor. There's not enough information for me to guide you but I do know the community is a little skittish right now. Mid morning coffee with neighbors? Invite them all and hash it out is what I would do.


 FLICKA agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 09:54 PM

189 makes sense. It was a nasty thing to do, especially involving a child. And, illegal to drop in a mail box w/o a stamp. Report it for the record, who knows what will be next.


 COMMENT 524210P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-31 11:25 PM

I agree - involve a lawyer (not cheap, but worth a couple hundred bucks to give you peace of mind). If the lawyer says to.....then involve the police. The post office will just send a form letter saying "don't do that again or we will charge you".......


 COMMENT 524227 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-01 06:29 AM

Impossibe to answer without knowing the contents of the letter. Libel as a form defamation is actionable under certain circumstance but the words that are written (or said in a case of slander), as well as the circumstances surrounding the publication are all critical to a legal analyis. Remember even if it is defamatory there is always the queston of damages because tort law can only restore a damaged party to the status they had before the tort occurred and that generally can only be done by awarding some measure of monetary damages (and possibly an injunction). In the case of any defamation, whether libel or slander, damages are often the most difficult thing to prove.


 COMMENT 524237 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-01 07:05 AM

Your neighbor sounds possibly 5150. Report him to police right away. Hopefully they will check gun database as a starter and a mental health background check. Determine if he takes any psych meds etc...but under current gun laws if he does own guns nothing can really be done anyway unless he is held for 72 hours and deemed mentally ill.


 COMMENT 524254 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-01 08:19 AM

What does the letter say? Is there any truth? Do you need to do some self introspection to determine if maybe there is some truth to it? Has this neighbor tried to work things out with you to no avail? Is it just an opinion stated? These types of things don't just happen without some reason and it doesn't mean the person doing it is crazy. The next time someone lets their dog poop in my front yard without picking it up, I will catch them on the security camera and post his face for all to see and ask if anyone knows who he/she is so I can pursue action and get them to stop.


 COMMENT 524256 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-01 08:26 AM

> A neighbor has distributed negative leaflets about me and my 8 year old son to mailboxes in my neighborhood.

I find it interesting you're not disputing the contents, but rather describing the tone.

> Several people have contacted me regarding the letter.

They'd probably like to hear your side of it.

> Is this legal?


> Is it Libel?

Not enough information.

> Is there anything I can do?

Of course there is. Which path you take will delineate once and for all whether or not the letter was true or not so chose carefully. The perception of the letter writer is extremely important. If your son is being accused of (for example) being a brat, help him stop being a brat. Take a more proactive approach to raising your son and help him avoid irritating that neighbor.

Marching about and declaring "this is false" is going to cement in the mind of even your mildest detractor that the letter was completely factual.


 COMMENT 524258 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-01 08:29 AM

Distributing anything via mailboxes is a violation of federal law. "By law, a mailbox is intended only for receipt of postage-paid U.S. Mail."

I remember a story about a mailman who got fired or fined or something for distributing non-stamped christmas cards to all the folks on his route. (Seems like a USPS employee should've known better!)

You should call the local post office and complain about the neighbor's activities!


 COMMENT 524259P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-01 08:32 AM

Yes, Roger, I agree with 124P, too. This person clearly has some mental health issues.


 COMMENT 524263 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-01 08:43 AM

your neighbor's actions are very mean spirited and only intended to try and garner support from your other neighbors against you. Fight back!!


 COMMENT 524284 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-01 09:44 AM

Holy smokes, could some of you folks step back a minute and realize what you're doing?
You're all making a ton of assumptions. You're reading way more into the message than is actually there.
We do not know, in point of fact, that the leaflets were distributed illegally. You are making an _assumption_.

Further, please note that while this message has been up for over 24 hours, OP has not come back to address questions or even say "thank you" for the advice so wildly and freely given.

That, too, speaks volumes.


 COMMENT 524285 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-01 09:50 AM

We once had an obnoxious neighbor who lived in a corner lot with five parking spaces by their house, and they decided that they all belonged to their house, and that people across the street should never park on her side of the street. Parking was never at a shortage, but some houses have only one adjacent street slot. She recruited people on her side of the street to enforce her rule against our side of the street and she called the police and would put up signs written in all capital letters on the windshield of cars that she felt were out of place. She put a nasty note on our neighbor's construction truck. He had parked in front of my house, four houses down from hers, yet she put a sign in his window calling his truck ugly. So this brought the never over in a huff to our house, because he assumed that we had put it there, but we deduced it was the jerk up the street. Later she called the police on him when he held a barbecue in his front porch rather than the back yard.


 COMMENT 524287 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-01 10:00 AM

First of all any citizen putting mail in a mailbox other than a postal worker is illegal. All you have to do is call the US POSTAL SERVICE. The 800 number is listed on google. Believe me they will take care of this idiot. I had a similar experience with a neighbor putting unsolicited mail in my mailbox and I called the USPS and they took care of it. Then get a lawyer to write him a letter and believe me this will shut him up. God luck!


 COMMENT 524304 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-01 10:46 AM

I'm more interested in what the letters says and why they felt the need to distribute this information amongst the neighborhood. Sex offender status? Mistaken identity? Issue with stolen goods? What is the story? Obviously others have inquired about it, but why? Either way, you should ask your neighbor and not Edhat readers for a solution.


 COMMENT 524313 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-01 11:26 AM

The only valid advice here is the first one. All else is in fact worth what you pay for it.


 COMMENT 524314 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-01 11:27 AM

You can also call police and talk to the beat coordinator for your area if you cannot talk to the neighbor about whatever problems have arisin between you. Maybe there needs to be amends made with extreme noise or something of that type, (we have that problem here with homes in close proximity!!) but unless there's a door opened maybe a mediator can handle the situation without costly lawyers. Be smart and be safe about it.


 COMMENT 524319 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-01 11:41 AM

I suspect the OP isn't calling the police because calling the cops is never a cut & dry situation, particularly these days. You're as likely to be hauled away yourownself while the person you're complaining about points and laughs.

Yay. America. Land of the Free, home of the imprisoned.


 COMMENT 524397 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-01 04:43 PM

kind of depends on what the letter says, doesn't it?


 COMMENT 524490 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-02 09:13 AM

I have a neighbor that complained bout my family last week to our management company instead of saying something to us directly. Cowardly...


 COMMENT 524616 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-02 01:33 PM

It's always dicey to talk to the neighbor directly if you think they are not going to appreciate the feedback.

I tried to talk to my neighbor about smoke from his barbeque coming in my windows every night and he got really mad and started burning oily rags and trash in the barbeque.

Of course if the apt management people don't keep your info confidential, it won't help.

If you don't like your neighbors, it is time to move. Moving solves a lot of problems that nothing else will. And don't buy a house next to iffy neighbors.


 COMMENT 524934 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-03 04:56 PM

Do you live in Mission Canyon? I think there was some worry of child abuse. I have heard from our neighbor about this.


 COMMENT 525274 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-05 07:15 AM

The letter stated that if anyone heard me yell at my child they should contact Child Protective Services and it listed the number for Lompoc CPS.


 COMMENT 525669P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-06 09:48 AM

OP. Days later and you offer this info? Hmm. If your neighbor has heard you yelling at your 8-year-old, I am THRILLED that this leaflet was sent out. Sounds like you are verbally abusing a child and need some counseling.

Praise for the neighbor who has tried to show you the error of your ways.


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