Violence occurs in many areas of daily life, whether it’s mobbing – group-based workplace harassment – bullying at school, or gender violence in the home. However, there’s another type of harassment that’s less well-known and more common than you’d think. We’re talking about neighbour harassment in a community of owners, which now has its own name: blocking. Does this term sound familiar to you? You may be a victim of blocking and not even know it.
What is blocking?
Blocking is the repeated harassment of one neighbour by another over a sustained period.
The victim may be a neighbour, the President of the community, a member of the owners’ meeting or even the property manager.
The harassment may be designed to make a neighbour stop behaving in a certain way or be part of an attempt by the perpetrator to get the community of owners to do something specific by exerting pressure on others.
The harassment can take several forms:
- Verbal or physical harassment
- Shunning someone within the community
- Ridiculing or criticising the victim in public
- Damaging property: gates, mailboxes, cars etc.
- Making false accusations
These attacks can cause serious psychological damage, such as post-traumatic stress.
Although many people see neighbourhood disputes as the most natural thing in the world, they should never be confused with harassment. While neighbourhood problems are generally over quickly and resolved amicably, harassment is a crime punishable by law.
Where do you report neighbour harassment?
First of all, it’s worth knowing that this new crime was introduced into the Criminal Code in 2015 and is defined in Article 172.
Article 172 says the following:
Anyone who harasses a person insistently and repeatedly without being legally authorised, using any of the following behaviours, in a way that seriously changes the person’s daily life, will be subject to a prison sentence of between three months and two years or a fine equivalent to between six and twenty-four months:
- Stalking, pursuing or seeking physical closeness.
• Establishing or trying to establish contact with the person through any means of communication, or through third parties.
• Through the improper use of the person’s personal data, purchasing products or goods, or contracting services, or having third parties contact the person.
• Infringing on the person’s liberty or assets, or the liberty or assets of someone close to the person.
If the person is especially vulnerable due to age, illness or situation, a prison sentence of between six months and two years applies.
…The facts described in this article may only be prosecuted following a complaint from the aggrieved person or their legal representative.
- If you are thinking of reporting, contact your property manager and alert him/her to your situation so that an amicable solution can be reached.
- Start to collect documentation and tangible evidence that you are the victim of neighbour harassment. This might include your call history, other reports – including any to the police – emails, WhatsApp conversations or witnesses who can prove continuous and recurrent harassment. A psychologist’s report alone is not enough.
- Talk to your community and let them know what is happening to you.
- Check with your insurance broker. Perhaps your home insurance or legal defence can help guide you.
The aim of a report is usually to secure a restraining order and compensation for damages and losses and, of course, to publicise what is happening and prevent it from occurring again.
Preventing neighbour harassment
The most sensible way of preventing harassment is to talk to your neighbour in a calm and friendly way to resolve the problem. If this is clearly not enough, contact your property manager to act as a conflict mediator. If this still doesn’t work, you have no other option. As discussed, start collecting evidence and report it to the police.
If your problem is due to annoying noisy behaviour, for example, this article tells you how to resolve it and your options under the law.