Dear PoPville – Question about trespassing neighbors

“Dear PoPville,

I live in a rented townhouse in Dupont that is right behind a restaurant and I’m having some serious problems with the owner. He seems to not realize my property, although rented, is not his. He parks his car in my parking space whenever mine isn’t there; he puts the smelly garbage from his restaurant in my trash cans (and trust me, bloody fish wrappers are VERY smelly and messy); and I often find him on my back porch, which he climbs up onto to access the roof of his unit. Whenever I try to talk to him, he pretends not to understand me. What’s the recourse for something like this? It doesn’t seem serious enough to get the police involved, but I’m tired of having to go into his restaurant to yell at him in front of his customers to move his car.”

70 Comment

  • Can you get his car towed? I don’t think the city will cover it since it’s on private property, so you might have to shell out some cash. But, I’d bet he won’t make the mistake of parking in your spot again!

  • Personally, I’d call and have his car towed the next time he parks there.

  • You can call the city and have a car ticketed and towed on private property. I had a neighbor who consistently let her guests park in my parking spot (every weekend) and after yelling at her for weeks in a row I called 311 who sent a parking officer out and ticketed her. She never parked there again. But the officer said if she did I could also call to have her towed.

    • +1.

      Even if the guy doesn’t leave his car there long enough for it to be towed, you should definitely be able to get it ticketed.

  • I wonder when people will realize that the only way to communicate with the d-bags of the world is to treat them like they treat you.

    The car: This is easy. Call 311, the city will come out, usually within an hour and ticket the car if it is parked on private propery. Just to make it more obvious, I would spend 5 bucks on one of those “no-parking” signs.

    The trash: Even easier, dump “his” trash on the front door of his restaurant. I can promise the first time you do it and his customers have to see it, it will be the last time he dumps his crap in your garbage.

    The roof: Tell him the next time you see him on your roof that you are calling the police. Even jackholes understand “police”. Take his picture while he is up there for effect. People tend to stop doing what they are doing when people are taking pictures.

    Lastly, go on offense. He has a restaurant. Start leaving negative online reviews of his restaurnat. Get all your friends to do the same. Hit him in the wallet, poor business and lack of money is a language everyone understands.

    • I like all of these options.

    • Anon for City Council!!

    • I’m sorry, does non-English-speaking=jackhole?

      • Hopping onto someone’s porch after being yelled at not to do it = jackhole.

        It doesn’t matter what language you speak. Someone yelling at you, waving arms around, and looking angry is easy to understand.

        • “Whenever I try to talk to him, he pretends not to understand me. ”

          Where did you get yelling and waving arms? This guy might be a jackhole, but it’s not because he may not understand English!

          • I think all the other actions the OP referred to qualify this guy as a jackhole. The language thing has nothing to do with it.

            @OP: Maybe find someone who speaks his language to translate for you. The drunk latinos who used to piss in my alley pretended not to understand until I busted out my Spanish on them, cursing them out and telling them to go piss on their mother’s house. They don’t come around any more.

      • I’m with Anon2. Plus, if you’re running a business in DC, you probably speak SOME English. And if you don’t, someone on your staff surely does. if this jackhole had any concern for the OPs requests/complaints, he’d ask someone to translate and be apologetic.

    • is 311 back? ’cause calling 911 to do something like this is kind of weird. not saying that you shouldn’t, but…

    • this has me in hysterics.. these are fabulous suggestions, i would love to see how fast the shenanigans come to a halt.

  • move.


  • Take the kid gloves off. Put a note on his car explaining that Finders are Keepers, and that Losers are Weepers, and that if he parks there again, you’ll set his car on fire. I might even Google Translate the note into whatever language he speaks, so there are no miscommunication problems. I’d also draw a sketch of his car engulfed in flames.

    The thing is, you’ll need to follow through if he does it again.

  • jim_ed

    dump the trash on his back door, then call the health inspector and report a health code violation. That should fix his wagon

  • Start hitting him in the wallet right now by posting which restaurant it is. I know I won’t go there if I know the owner is an ass.


  • Put the bloody fish wrappers in his gas tank.

  • Dump the trash on his car

  • Puleez post the name of the restaurant….

  • I wish I was your roommate.

    I’d so enjoy and would resolve it all in less than a week.

  • I’d withhold rent for the parking spot, if not the residence. It would be verrrrry hard for him to kick you out, given the tenant-friendly laws. Hit him in the pocket book

  • Thanks for your suggestions everyone!

    I feel bad posting the name! (Clearly from my letter to PoP you can see I’m a bit of a push-over). But it’s a sushi restaurant on 18th street between Dupont and Adams Morgan, and it looks a little dingy from the outside – never a good look for a raw fish joint.

    I contacted a health inspector and he’s coming to take a look at it. I also found about this site from him that lists all the health complaints at restaurants in DC: Interestingly, most of the restaurants I checked out on 18th St had complaints, including Jolt N Bolt at 18th and Willard, my usual coffee shop, which had “mouse feces throughout the premises.” Guess I won’t be going back there! I’d encourage everyone to check out any food outlets they are suspicious about on that site.

    • Ah, the rodents of Jolt and Bolt. When I lived in AM, on multiple occasions I watched rats run from one side of their patio to another in broad daylight.

    • Question – is the restaurant owner your landlord? I figured not, but there seems to be some confusion on that…

      • NM, saw your answer below. It sucks that you have to deal with this, but at least your landlord isn’t being a horrible asshole!

    • Wow, this site is fascinating! Some of my favorite places were written up for a ton of violations.

      Whatever, I have a tough stomach and am not squeamish. I’ll still eat at most of the,

      • Is it possible to eat at a DC restaurant that does not have some issue with vermin? I thought rodents were a fact of life with restaurants, and any health inspection would reveal evidence. But maybe not.

    • I know exactly which establishment you’re talking about – and won’t be going there now that I know about what rude neighbors they are.

      Have you tried posting no trespassing/no unauthorized parking signs, or asking your landlord to do so?

      Also, if you could park in such a way that you’re not totally blocking the alley, you could try blocking him in next time he parks there (but if you’re blocking the alley, fair game for someone else to call and have you towed).

    • Oh, you mean Plum Blossom. I don’t have facts to back this up but I’ve always assumed that place was a front for money laundering.

  • You have to be a bit wary of retaliation, so I’d recommend a strategy where you escalate your responses.

    First contact the Dupont Circle Citizens Association or other BID group, who will likely have some kind of relationship with him as a business owner. Also, start having the car ticketed (call 911 – 311 doesn’t work), doing it *every* time he parks in your spot (unfortunately this may mean you have to forgo your parking spot for a few days). Leave a note with the ticket and in his language explaining that he needs to stop the parking and other misbehavior or things will get worse.

    Next step, get the car towed (plenty of companies will do this once the car has a ticket on the windshield).

    If the behavior still doesn’t stop , start leaving his trash in the entrance to the restaurant and/or calling the health dept.

    I’d recommend against angry on-line reviews since it’s so passive-aggressive he won’t know it’s you and you’re unlikely to change his behavior.

  • The owner is the owner of only the restaurant, not the OP’s rented townhouse, right?

    (This was what I assumed the situation was, but some of the commenters seem to have interpreted it as the guy being the owner of both the restaurant and the townhouse.)

  • Sounds like a similar problem I had with my landlord. She would park in my spot and come use the closet in my house. You should read your lease, it may be written to where they have the authority do that like in my. My option was to move and I am. My lease is up in a month and I’m gone.

    • That would be an illegal clause in DC. First, taking your spot is what’s called a diminution of services. Amenities have to remain constant over the life of a tenancy or the rent must be reduced. Second, using the closet? Really? That’s just crazy. What did she keep in there? It’s a violation of the right of quiet enjoyment (and no, quiet doesn’t refer to volume — it’s in the “quiet title” sense). You lease the premises, you lease the premises. No carving out a closet or alcove within the leased property for your extra mink coats. Doesn’t matter what the lease says.

      It sounds like your landlord was treating you as a roomer or transient guest, not a tenant. They’re very different things in DC. You’re leaving, but you might consider talking to a volunteer lawyer at the Landlord/Tenant Court to see what leverage you have in getting your security deposit back no questions asked.

      Then trash the place….

  • houseintherear

    So does the house you live in belong to the restaurant owner? I’m confused.

    If it doesn’t, call the effing police already! And if it does, call the effing police already!

  • He’s not my landlord – different buildings.

  • andy

    my best guess says that you’re not far from that Florida/18th Construction. Maybe you can put some cones up in front of his location and tell the construction guys to park their backhoes in front of his restaurant. Then check how much English he actually speaks! (Man, it is so easy to think up silly ways to get revenge!)

  • Reading comprehension seems to be getting worse with each generation. It clearly states that the property is not that of the trespasser.

    “He seems to not realize my property, although rented, is not his.”

    • It isn’t clear. Here is an edited version that is clearer.

      I live in a rented townhouse in Dupont that is right behind a restaurant and I’m having some serious problems with the restaurant owner. He seems to not to respect my rights as the property renter. He parks his car in my parking space whenever mine isn’t there; he puts the smelly garbage from his restaurant in my trash cans (and trust me, bloody fish wrappers are VERY smelly and messy); and I often find him on my back porch, which he climbs up onto to access the roof of his building.

  • I would ticket the car, and let the air out of his tires every time you find his car there and attach a board of nails on your porch right where he needs to access to get to his porch. He will get the message.

  • People used to park in my drive way all the time. first i left notes, then i called the cops on everyone to get ticketed (they seldom do it after they have been ticketed). I also have a bunch of stickers from local bands that i sometimes place on their windshields in case they move their car before the police get there to give them a ticket. have fun scraping that off. I figure that they shouldn’t get off unscathed, and maybe if they listened to better music, they wouldn’t be such as5holes.

  • this is so easy. take his wheels off and set the car down on cinder blocks and put them inside your house. tell him you’ll give them back if he promises never to park there again.

  • I’m bummed to find out that this restaurant isn’t being a good neighbor. I generally root for the non-chains in this area, and the food is actually pretty good there, but this kind of behavior is not to be rewarded. I agree that getting more aggressive is appropriate in this situation – towing (and maybe getting an orange cone or several for your parking spot in the meantime?), removing/reporting the trash, talking with the business district, etc – all good suggestions. I hope the restaurant owner sees this post and rethinks his actions!

  • Good Lord. Don’t listen to 90% of these people. Take him to court – small claims even. Request an injunction against all offending activity.

    If it is granted and he continues, then he is in contempt.

    Do not take the law into your own hands. …or, at least, get caught doing it.

    • You can’t get an injunction in small claims court, only money damages. Filing a case in the Civil Actions Branch is expensive, slow and unnecessary.

      There’s nothing illegal about taking the trash out of your can and giving it back to the offending restaurant. OK, you might be littering yourself, but it’s not like the restaurant’s going to sue you for it. Just make sure that it actually belongs to that particular restaurant and don’t dump it out and create a mess.

      As far as the car goes, having it towed is completely acceptable. I can’t recommend other self-help remedies, although they are deeply satisfying and I have to confess to having done very similar things before. Just be careful and stay just on this side of the aggressive but sane/ridiculous border.

    • Awesome how this is a plea not to listen to people on here, and then an offer of advice that includes a violation of legal principles going back to the dawn of the common law legal system.

      You only get money damages in DIY law. Equitable remedies, like injunctions, require attorneys. This is absolutely not a matter for the court system.

      Set the man’s car on fire.

  • In addition to getting the guy ticketed and (if possible) towed, maybe you could ask your landlord to look into some of the ideas mentioned in this thread (like having a padlock chain strung across the parking space):

  • Is the parking spot such that you could block it by putting 2 eyebolts at either end (say into the brick/concrete walls) and run some chain through them? You leave, lock it up and he can’t get his car in the spot. That would be funny. Then start looking for his car on the street, alleys etc and whenever he’s parked illegaly, call 311.

  • wouldn’t placing stickers on a car be considered vandalism? I mean, don’t you think the ticket is enough?

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