Tales from a Tenant: “Hello, Police?”

Last Updated on August 17, 2020

If you follow me on Twitter or are a regular reader here on the ol’ blog, you already know that we’ve had all sorts of problems with the townhouse we are currently renting. So far, I’ve written primarily about our issues with how poorly this place was built and is being maintained thanks to cheap management.

I haven’t really written much about our neighbourhood or the fact that we see the police here on a pretty regular basis… 

For example, in the 8 months we’ve lived here:

– We watched the police enter a unit down the street from us one afternoon and come out with one of our neighbours in cuffs.

– We were woken up in the middle of night mid-week to a drunk woman screaming and banging on the door and windows of another unit – and watched as three different police cruiser showed up and eventually sent the woman off in a cab.

– We regularly check crimereports.com and see “assault” and “theft under $5000” appearing on our block.

– In mid-September, we woke up to the news that there was an incident involving someone in a townhouse a few blocks down from us, alcohol, gunfire in the middle of the night, and additional weapons charges. Yay!

… Because thankfully, these incidents had nothing to do with us. But as you may have already guessed, that recently changed.

Our townhouse is situated on the corner of a crescent, and our unit is on the outer edge.  Both our living room and bedroom are at the front of the house. Regardless of if our windows are open or not, sound travels like crazy. It’s not unusual for us to hear one neighbour or another yelling (at each other, at their kids, or at their dogs). It always sounds like it’s coming from right outside our door, even if it’s actually coming from half a block away.

Because we are essentially in the corner, our view consists of the street with several other townhouses – and a few more if we look to the right (see photo below). Between this view and the way the sound carries, we often have no choice but to know our neighbours business.


The Domestic Dispute

Recently, we were at home making dinner (by that I of course mean R was making dinner and I was playing on my laptop) when we heard a Girl in her late teens/early 20s yelling. I looked out the window to see that this Girl was yelling at a Boy about the same age.

At first it seemed like the Boy had kicked a ball from the Girl’s front yard as he was walking by and the Girl was freaking out at him over it. But as the fight continued, we learned that they were actually a couple and she was kicking him out.

R and I both sort of laughed at the situation (remember, this sort of thing happens a lot) and after a little while, we somewhat-maybe-not-so-subtly went outside to watch – as did several other neighbours.

I guess the couple didn’t like the attention, because the Boy went around to the back of the buildings (where there is a public walking trail – which is sort of beside our place) in attempt to leave, but the Girl just kept going at him.

This is when things started to get violent.

The Girl started pushing him, shoving him and kicking at him as he tried to walk away. After a few more minutes of this, the Boy swung the skateboard he had at her to try to get her to back off (but didn’t hit her.) Clearly, this was no longer just an argument.

We decided to call 911.

As R was on the phone with the operator, I guess the couple had clued into the fact that we were watching them and were calling the police, because they both disappeared down the trail. She was still yelling, and still attacking him.

We went back inside to wait for the police to show up. But the police didn’t come.

After about 20 minutes had passed, we saw the Girl had returned – but she was alone. R called 911 again to update them on what was happening (which he was asked to do).  We were still expecting the police to at least follow-up with the call, but no, the police still didn’t come.

Domestic violence is so common in our community that the police launched a special Domestic Violence Unit last year to address the issue. So where were they? This Girl was pissed off at this Boy and was getting increasingly violent with him. Even though this ended without any incident (that we know of), it could have easily escalated into something serious. Why weren’t they addressing this?

It’s still ridiculously upsetting and unsettling that our local police completely dismissed our call and dismissed our concerns. When you call the police for any reason, you except them to respond. Apparently, this isn’t always true.

How am I supposed to feel safe, now?

Have you ever had to call the Police on a neighbour? Did they respond to your call?
How safe do you feel in your home and/or neighbourhood?

Amanda Kay

Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and making a living. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a FREE library of career & job search resources.

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15 thoughts on “Tales from a Tenant: “Hello, Police?””

  1. That’s ridiculous they have a special unit just for domestic violence in the area, and decided not to stop by. What’s the use, then? Is there a way to report that?

    When we were looking to move, I researched all of the areas so we could stay away from sketchy neighborhoods. Apparently, it didn’t do me any good, as my car was broken into last week. There’s nothing the police can really do there as nothing was stolen, but I really hate feeling unsafe in our complex!

    • Apparently about 15% of 911 calls here are about domestic disputes – hence why they created this special unit. I have no idea if there is somewhere I can report this – but I’m gunna go look, thanks to your suggestion.
      I wish we would have researched this area before we moved here. We knew it was lower-income, but the property management people made us jump through hoops to get our rental approved which really mislead us. Here we thought they screened all the neighbours like that, and that every one would be more “professional”…

  2. did the police ever respond?

    I’m not sure what happened, or what your particular area is like, but police officers have to put calls in priority situations, so perhaps this just wasn’t high on the list of priorities at that moment. Maybe all their units were busy handling other calls at the time. It’s pretty shady though if they never even responded at all.

    • As far as we know, no, the police never responded. We went to bed at about 10pm (4 hours after the incident) and we didn’t see any police at all. I suppose they could have contacted the Girl/her household without us knowing though?

  3. Police often avoid domestic disputes because they are relatively powerless to get involved unless a crime has been committed. Unfortunately that often means they respond *after* there has been violence, rather than preventing it. And even when they do get involved, most times the charges will be dropped the following morning by whoever got the black eye because “we love each other really”.

  4. Yikes! Just one more reason I bet you can’t wait to get out of there. I used to live in a really sketchy area alone. There were always cops, my car got vandalized, and there were always people wandering around. It’s not a good feeling to feel unsafe in your home. My understanding is that they will always respond to a call but who knows-maybe they were understaffed. I don’t know but it doesn’t bode well if you feel that you need them in the future for something they may not consider a priority.

  5. O goodness. I will have to email you because I am the landlord of a commercial buildings. Everything happens from finding used condoms in the garage, to people having sex at the property, to homeless people infiltrating the buildings, to tenants trying to move out in the middle of the night. Or perhaps the most interesting is when we had someone try to blow up my building.
    Landlording…never dull!

    • Wow… I can only image the stories you have! But yes – if you ever wanted to write a post for my “Tales from a Tenant”, I’d love to publish it here for you 🙂

  6. This is ridiculous what if something had actually happened. I can’t believe they wouldn’t take this seriously. I really hope you are able to get out of there sooner rather than later, for safety reasons!

  7. Ughh I know exactly how you feel about calling them and they don’t come! I recently was house sitting for a friend and saw a drunk drive hit not one but TWO parked cars. I called the police and I stayed up for 3 hrs watching the accident scene from my window and the police never came. This was right next to a college campus. How unsafe is that! Good thing in Texas that everyone has a gun.


  8. I’ve only had to call the police for nuisance things. Your story is pretty scary… and a bit weird. I mean the people that were fighting seemed odd. Good luck with them!

  9. Unfortunately, this is all too common. The police often ignore calls like these, but don’t worry – there are a ton on the highways trying to catch you speeding. Hopefully things improve!


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