Currently, cases of neighborhood conflicts and between homeowners and their respective tenants have increased. It is a phenomenon that has become common in large cities or in areas where a greater part of the population resides. It is qualified by the name of real estate harassment, it can occur in different ways, its psychological implications are important.

The victims suffer from repeated and daily harassment that aims to damage their integrity and that of the home they occupy. This affects even family and economic stability, it also has social implications that will continue to be present in the long term. It is a situation in which the people involved begin to suffer the physical, mental and emotional consequences. 

What is real estate harassment? 

Real estate harassment is defined as a set of antisocial practices that try to offend and abuse other people , this is done by attacking or destroying private property . In other words, it is a situation in which the violation of personal utility is involved in spaces where the victims live  .

This type of situation usually occurs in residences or localities where there are conflicts between neighbors. It can also refer to the action of invading by people who do not have the necessary permits to inhabit spaces to which they are not entitled. This is a terminology that is directly used to define those situations in which the physical, legal and emotional security of homes or residential buildings is violated 

These acts of vandalism can occur in different ways, mainly crimes such as destruction of the physical structure, cutting off basic services such as water and electricity, not complying with the rules of coexistence and also not respecting the limits established for private property. Several people can be involved, some of whom are listed as the stalkers and others are the victims.

In some cases it is a term that can be associated with those cases of crime and real estate fraud . These are infractions where money is stolen with the promise of granting permits that demonstrate the acquisition of goods such as houses and apartments. Commonly, from the point of view of the law, fraud is being carried out that not only leaves economic consequences, but also the affected people are psychologically violated.

What are their characteristics?

One of the main characteristics of harassment and furniture lies in the generation of a conflictive relationship, usually two protagonists intervene, one of them occupying the role of the victim. This person begins to suffer abuses of different kinds, but mainly these are aimed at damaging their property and can even affect their physical integrity. The harasser plans his actions to disturb the tranquility of the harassed person, this can be by omission or direct and indirect action.

The creation of a hostile environment is done through abuse that affects not only the material aspect, but also the social and personal aspects of the victim . Consequently, the harassed person must adopt drastic and unexpected measures, to try to establish limits that protect the safety of his home and himself.

The following are the most common causes for which cases of real estate harassment are usually generated. They can occur together but also in isolation, and they can also last for different periods of time . They are as follows:

  • Conflicts generated from the collection of the rent or rental of a Property.
  • Refusal to access basic supplies or services Indispensable for hygiene. This can be the case with water, electricity or even using the elevator.
  • Acts of harassment where the victims can be constantly watched . They can be physically attacked when trying to enter or leave their homes.
  • Those spaces that belong to them by law may be objects of acts of vandalism . From destruction or also occupation or misappropriation.
  • Acts of violence that violate the physical safety and security of third parties that are directly related to the victims.

Other common characteristics that occur in these types of cases are described below. It is important to clarify that they do not necessarily have to be presented all together, each situation is different and therefore the situation must be analyzed in detail. They are as follows:

  • It may constitute a particular type of discrimination . For example, in an unjustified way, the owners of a property could drastically increase the value of the rent. This can be for causes such as racism or sexism.
  • An owner could apply strategies that violate the psychological safety of the affected person. This is done through cuts of electricity or water services, this would force the victim to pay extra expenses for its repair or installation.
  • Deliberate damage done by tenants to damage the private property of the actual owners. In other words, in rental housing the occupants can carry out these actions by refusing to pay or by other types of conflicts.
  • There may be quarrels between neighbors which generates direct or indirect threats from the owners. Coexistence begins to be more difficult forcing some of those involved to leave their homes uninhabited, this usually happens in building blocks.
  • The harasser displays conduct that is offensive and disruptive in nature . This same behavior could eventually increase its intensity, therefore the victim would find himself in a situation of eminent danger.
  • From a psychological point of view, it is essential to report real estate harassment to civic and governmental entities. It has lifelong sequelae such as anxiety, depression , maladaptive disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • It usually occurs in a sector of the population that is affected by scarce economic and educational resources . That is to say, the low cultural level makes the creation of conflicts prone, generally occurring for apparently unimportant causes.
  • In eviction cases, the people who suffered from these actions could begin to harass those who are responsible for the situation. It involves psychological pressures because they are decisions that in some cases do not take into account the personal situation of those affected. It is recommended to try to reach agreements.
  • Also included are those cases where the dwellings do not comply with current regulations , therefore they are not suitable spaces to be inhabited. The owners oblige the tenants to repair breakdowns, assume costs for their maintenance and solve the absence of home services. This is done under the threat of eviction.
  • In the real estate field, a high increase in rental payments can occur , housing has become a very lucrative business for companies that are in charge of this sector.

How is it identified? Examples

This phenomenon is usually identified when the people involved begin to manifest psychological symptoms . That is, the presence of avoidance of the traumatic event can be detected, which is common in victims. Other symptoms are irritability and tiredness , it is pathologies that are directly linked to this type of harassment. In the same way, they can suffer from sleep disorders and stress, which depends on an adequate psychological diagnosis.

This type of abuse depends on a psychological assessment and also on an expert report, for which clinical interviews are applied as well as the situation must be analyzed through documentation and evidence. The psychiatric diagnosis will show when there is psychological and moral damage to the victim. These same resources may be used together with the arguments when the formal complaint is made to the authorities, for example, financial compensation can be requested.

Each case of real estate harassment presents its own particular characteristics, the people involved may have different intentions. However, in most cases it has been observed that a common element is related to the economic factor. This is especially relevant when it is observed that the harassers are real estate agents , although they could also be neighbors or close people who want to have a financial gain.

Another common characteristic is in relation to conflicts generated by racial prejudice . In the presidential arias, those inhabitants who were already in these spaces could not agree with the arrival of new neighbors. Also the new owners could not adjust to the expectations expected by said community .

It has also been observed that these situations can arise from the breach of contracts for the payment or acquisition of a property. That is, some residents could interfere to achieve a calm and peaceful coexistence. By receiving feedback to try to change their behavior, these same people may begin to increase the intensity and continuity of those actions. Consequently, the neighbors will be affected without knowing how to establish definitive limits.

Steps and resources to face it 

Depending on the type of situation that is being generated, certain methods must be applied that will allow the victims to establish limits . As explained above, furniture harassment can occur in different ways and therefore the situation must be analyzed to find the most appropriate solutions.

Usually the first recommendation is to leave or stop visiting the physical space where these events are occurring. In a momentary way, the field of action for the harasser or accusers is being limited. The next step is to make a formal complaint to the people or entities in charge of dealing with these types of situations.

Various strategies can be planned that could guarantee both physical and psychological personal safety. It is also essential to define which actions that have taken place during this process can be defined within the spectrum of what is legal and what is illegal. In the same way, the help of specialized persons such as lawyers with experience in residential conflicts must be counted on. The penal code of each nation has information that specifies what legal actions can be used.

In those situations in which a home invasion has occurred, as well as threats or coercion ; an immediate call should be made to the police. Some crimes can be considered minor, however there are also situations where for a long period of time the resource of spreading slander and insults has been used . These actions can be penalized as abuses and injuries to the moral integrity of people due to their psychological consequences.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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