In life, there comes a time when you might need to get a hold of someone at their home. Maybe you’re trying to sell them something, tell them something, or make it inquiry.
Whatever the reason, you might have caused to go knock on their door.
If they don’t answer, or you have to make repeated visits to their house, you might have to knock again and again.
This naturally raises questions about harassment and unwanted activity. Is knocking on someone’s door considered harassment?
No, just knocking on someone’s door is not categorically harassment. But, continually knocking and not going away, or visiting frequently to try again at their home, knocking each time might constitute harassment in the eyes of the law.
Harassment is usually defined as repeated, unwanted and annoying, or mildly harmful activity directed against a person or group of people.
Persistence is a virtue, but one must be careful to not push any issue so far that it could constitute the grounds for harassment.
Whether you’re trying to collect rent money or just deliver unwanted news, it is in your best interest to know the general lay of the law before proceeding with your campaign of knocking.
We will discuss this issue in greater detail below.
Knocking Is Not in and of Itself Harassment
It is important to state right up front that the act of knocking on someone’s door is not in and of itself harassment so long as it is done with respect to the wider social protocol.
A few brisk knocks delivered with the knuckles or a door knocker with an interval in between for convenience is the expected standard.
Even if one cared to try again later in the day or another day, this would not constitute harassment outside of a verbal, written or auditory warning to cease and desist.
Again, this is because throughout society, at least in the West, knocking on someone’s front door is a socially acceptable custom and method of interacting with strangers at their home.
However, even the most innocent and harmless actions might constitute harassment if you ignore someone’s wishes to the contrary.
Harassment is Unwanted and Repeated Actions
Harassment is defined as an unwanted and usually annoying or mildly harmful action that is repeated persistently and over time, directed against a person or group of people.
This is a broad definition, but harassment is itself a broad charge.
Harassment can take many forms, from assailing someone with repeated insults to aggravating them in a public place, placing unwanted and repeated phone calls or even, yes, knocking on their door.
The shift from innocent if repeated action to harassment usually occurs at the point that the harassed, or victim, tells the harasser now the perpetrator to stop, go away and leave them alone.
At this point, what would otherwise be justified under codes of conduct and societal expectations of good behavior now basically evaporates if one is not justified by the law in continuing the behavior.
If you are calling someone repeatedly on the telephone or coming by three times a day to pound on their front door and they ask you to stop, you definitely should stop unless you want to risk harassment charges.
Harassment is Usually Judged against Social Acceptability
Now, it should be pointed out that there are other considerations and legal factors that are way before harassment charges may be properly brought to bear.
For instance, harassment must be deliberate and targeted, and it is difficult though not impossible to levy harassment charges over incidental actions or activities that annoy.
Considering that some people are hypochondriac drama queens with crushing attention-seeking complexes, this is generally for the best.
For instance, if you were walking through your neighborhood with your dog on a leash, following all applicable laws and guidelines while doing so, and just so happened to pass someone’s house a few blocks away from yours who happens to hate dogs like yours and hates the sight of you walking that particular dog.
If you are not deliberately allowing the dog to threaten, intimidate or otherwise antagonize the person they will have a hard time leveling harassment charges against you just because you are walking through the neighborhood where you live.
On the other hand, if you make it a point to always stop and let your dog take a crap in their yard, they could very well get harassment charges brought up against you.
Generally, you may use common sense and a reasonable appraisal of society’s expectations for manners, good behavior and consideration to inform your choices of whether you are heading into the territory of harassment or not.
As always, if someone asks you to stop doing something that is bothering them you should generally comply if you are able assuming it does not unduly impede you.
Repeated Unanswered Callings Could Be Considered Harassment
The underpinnings of harassment are patterns. A pattern of behavior, a pattern of action or, if someone is trying to be slick, a pattern of outcomes against the victim whether they would admit it or not.
Anytime a pattern is established that aggravates, annoys, or harms someone there might be grounds for harassment charges to be leveled against those perpetrating any of the above.
To clarify, consider the example of the dog walker who just so happens to let his dog stop to take a crap on the person’s yard every time they take the dog for a walk around the neighborhood.
The dog walker might fain innocence, denying that he has anything to do with the timing of his dog’s deposits, but pretty much everyone can see that somehow, some way the dog always manages to do his business on this person’s yard alone.
A reasonable person would reach the conclusion that the dog walker was keeping the dog hustling along until he reached the desired target, pausing or stopping there to let the dog do his business and achieve his end of antagonizing the homeowner.
Now, switching gears back to our initial example of you needing to make repeated visits to a person’s home and attempt to reach them face to face for any purpose, be at the collection of rent, delivery of documents, an inquiry, or anything else you are establishing a pattern of behavior.
It might be totally innocent, and you might not receive an upfront warning to desist.
In case you do receive such a warning to stop the unwanted behavior and you don’t have justification under the eyes of the law, there’s already a pattern in place of unwanted action that can be used against you to level harassment charges.
In essence, many things are okay until they are not, so keep that in mind when you are engaged in any sort of persistent behavior for any purpose if not acting in an official capacity.
Knocking on someone’s door does not constitute harassment in and of itself.
However, a pattern of knocking repeatedly and persistently over time particularly after being told to stop could constitute harassment if done for any purpose that is not authorized by law or done as part of official duties.
If someone tells you to stop knocking and leave them alone, you had better comply or you could be facing harassment charges.