Category Archives: Neighbor Issues

Condo Neighbor’s Leaking Air Conditioning Causes Moldy Nightmare!

B.L. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Hi Mr. Condo! I hope you can help me. I’m an owner of a condo in an apartment style building. Last week, I discovered a leak from above into my AC closet which shares a wall with my linen closet. My AC is non-operable (since 2012) so I know it isn’t mine. I checked my linen closet and found the back wall covered in mold. I contacted the property management company right away. They said they would contact the above tenant/owner to stop the leak so I can begin repairs. I’ve since sent several emails and called twice. For the past 5 days I have not received any response. I even went so far as to call the tenant myself. No response there either. What are my options?

Mister Condo replies:

B.L., I am sorry for your problems. Leaks caused by neighbors are bad enough but mold problems are quite serious. You did the right thing by contacting the Property Manager. You should also document the mold intrusion with lots of photos in case they are needed down the road. The association is responsible for getting involved and making the repairs. Unfortunately, it sounds like the manager is off to a slow and ineffective start. You need to be persistent and write to the Board along with your documentation showing what is going on and demanding they make the repairs. The other unit owner’s lack of cooperation may be a problem for you but the Board can take legal action against them to make them comply. You should not need to contact them at all, email, in person, or otherwise. If they are responsive to you, you can certainly speak with them to ask them to be more helpful but that doesn’t seem to be the case. The Board needs some time to get this situation remedied and you may wish to be patient for a few months while they get this straightened out. However, you may also wish to speak to an attorney if things are moving too slow for you. Mold can be deadly and you need to have it removed quickly. You may even need to vacate your unit if it is found to be toxic. In that case, you would turn to your own homeowner’s insurance to see if you have coverage that would pay for your temporary relocation while the mold is abated. Ultimately, you want the neighbor’s A/C unit repaired so it stops leaking. You want your unit dry and you want the mold removed. Once all that is done, you’ll be back in business. Be persistent and apply the right amount of pressure to make sure you aren’t forgotten. Your problem is there problem and it needs to be taken seriously by all involved. Good luck!

Condo Owner’s Guest Flagrantly Violates Parking Rules

L.W. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our parking rules state that “no vehicles may be stored in common parking spaces when not in use. Vehicles that are not operable or that will not be utilized for 15 days or longer should be parked in the Unit Owners garage or driveway.” The live-in boyfriend of a unit owner has parked his beat up pickup truck in a parking spot in the common area for more than one month. It has not budged in a month. I requested our Management Company ask that he move the truck weeks ago, but it has not moved. The owner of the truck is NOT an owner in this complex, just a friend of one. The truck owner has a new truck which he parks near the old one, indicating to me that he is merely storing this unused truck in one of our common area parking places. It is infuriating that they are being allowed to do this. What do you suggest?

Mister Condo replies:

L.W., the use and management of the common parking areas is the purview of the Board. It is up to them to enforce the rules of the association. Your duty is to report those parking violations that you observe to the Board. It is then up to the Board to take the appropriate action. You can follow up with the Board to see what they are doing but that is the limit of what you can do. The Property Manager can only do what the Board empowers him or her to do. While your by-laws state the intended use of the parking lot they may not say what, specifically, can be done to unit owners or guests who do not comply. Typically, fines are issued after warnings are given. In extreme cases, the Board may have the authority to tow the vehicle off property. Whatever the rules are, all you can do as a resident is to report the offense. It is up to the Board to deal with the problem. All the best!

No Enforcement of Condo Parking Rules Leads to Chaos for Condo Resident

L.T. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I have requested for past 5 years to move my parking spot. I rent (by choice) and I am allowed 1 marked spot and 1 visitor spot. I have the only spot parked under a tree. My car gets ruined every day by bird droppings it has ruined the paint on my car and is costing me a small fortune at the car wash. This is not my original spot as you can clearly see on the pavement it was changed. I drive an SUV and I am boxed in by car in front of me and one behind me. Almost every day I come home and someone is in my spot. It clearly should be visitor spot with the one behind me. Gas Co., Comcast , pizza delivery. etc.. So, I park in my visitor spot instead of honking my horn. I also take photos to document. I receive “fines” from condo board for parking in visitor spot. Clearly someone has nothing else to do. Nor have they asked “why” am I supposed to run out all night to check if they left. And it seems to only apply to renters. I also am disabled suffer from migraines. All this exacerbates my condition dealing w/ this every day. Seems there is one set of bylaws for owners and another for renters. I am now submitting a reasonable request. I cannot get an answer why this is such a problem? Just switch my spot. They did it for previous owner. I can go on and on example nobody parks in front of their garage as the bylaws state, parking spaces are not the same length, etc….

Mister Condo replies:

L.T., I am sorry you are having such parking difficulties at your condo apartment. Residents of condominium associations are supposed to voluntarily follow rules such as parking rules because they wish to live in an orderly community. Clearly, your fellow residents have no desire to do so which means the Board needs to intervene and enforce the rules. Sending you fines for violating the rules is one way in which they can attempt to impose order. However, they need to fine all offenders, not just you. If you are being unfairly singled out, you may have a case for a discrimination claim against the association. You should seek the advice of an attorney to see if that is plausible. Other than that, there isn’t too much you can do as an individual. You a should complain to the Board each and every time a parking violation is observed. The Board is under no obligation to move your space although you are free to continue to ask. My guess is this is a classic case of the squeaky wheel getting the grease. Be thorough, be consistent, and continue to document the parking violations and report them in timely fashion to the Board. Appear at the Board meetings to voice your complaints. If the Board is unable to fulfill its duty and provide your parking as it does other residents, you will be left with only two other options. Again, you can speak with an attorney to see if there is a legal case to be made or you can move to another apartment where parking may not be such an ordeal. Good luck!

Condo Resident Refuses to Stop Smoking!

J.H. from Massachusetts writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I am president of the Board for my condo. The son of a unit owner and his girlfriend living in the unit are extremely heavy smokers which is causing the unit owner next door great consternation as the smoke seeps through the common block wall between units. We have been dealing with this for some time, and have sent letters to the owner and offending parties, but they are addicted and won’t cease.

The offended party is tearing off walls to try and smoke proof the area and wants to send the condo association the bill for perceived indifference. We are limited in what we can do about this. We have by-laws that cover being a nuisance to your neighbor, but are unsure of how to enforce them given that these people are very addicted and I doubt simple fines will be the answer. In your opinion what is the next step?

Mister Condo replies:

J.H., smoking is a very serious concern for many condominiums around the country. You need to speak with your association attorney to determine what legal steps you can take to make your community “smoke-free”. I am not an attorney but I do know of several who are quite knowledgeable about this subject matter in your state. Two of them have published articles that you need to read:

https://www.goldmanpease.com/secondhand-smoke-and-your-condominium-how-to-navigate-the-changing-legal-landscape.html

https://meeb.com/uncategorized/condominium-smoking-war-heats-up-in-massachusetts/

The bottom line is that second-hand smoke can be considered a nuisance. Clearly, for your non-smoking unit owner who is battling this fight first-hand, nuisance barely begins to describe what he is living with. I find it unlikely that he can charge the association for repairs and changes he is making to his own unit but, in court cases where laws are often interpreted, you never know. I think it is more likely that your association can ban smoking, which will protect the association. Further, beyond fines, it may be possible to evict those who repeated refuse to follow the rules. In some states, smoking in a high-density housing area where smoking is prohibited can be considered a crime. I am not saying that you will have the local police come out to get your smokers arrested but you can make their decision to smoke a lot less appealing. There is no constitutional “right to smoke” so if the association passes a “no smoking” rule, it would very likely stand up to a legal challenge. My hopes for you would be that the smokers would realize this is not the community for them to live in and that they should consider relocating to a “smoker friendly” environment, such as a private home. Best wishes!

Previous Condo Trustee Allowed Unit Owner Delinquency to Go Unchecked!

M.C. from Middlesex County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our trustee just sold her unit making me the new trustee. After she left, I found out one of the Unit owners wasn’t paying their HOA fees and that the former trustee had used funds I put in the Reserve Fund for my share of assessments to front for them. We were about to hold off on a planned assessment because of this when the city slapped us with a fine so now we have to move forward or rack up more fines! I asked a lawyer for a consultation hoping he could give us some advice on how to proceed and he practically laughed me off the phone saying the situation wasn’t worth a lawyer. But the unit owners still aren’t paying and the city is expecting us to move forward with the assessment! What do we do?

Mister Condo replies:

M.C., for starters, you get a new lawyer! I don’t know of any lawyer committed to community association law that would “laugh you off the phone” for such a potentially serious and clearly legal matter. You have three very separate matters to attend to here. The city slapping you with a fine is likely your biggest fish to fry. Get your association in compliance with the city so no further fines result. The city likely has powers to make your life quite uncomfortable depending on the nature of the offense. If they find your buildings are uninhabitable due to a safety issue, they could actually forbid people from living in your units. You certainly don’t want that and I am hoping that the fine is for something easily remedied. If a Special Assessment is needed to bring the association into compliance with the city’s requirements, it may be time to levy that assessment. Be sure you do so in accordance with your association’s governance documents and state law. Second, you need to take legal action against the unit owner in arrears as allowed by your governing documents. Typically, this is the work of an attorney or collection agency. Do not take matters into your own hands. Collections is a delicate and legal process best handled by professionals. Collection efforts may even lead to a foreclosure action by the association against the unit owner in arrears. This is not a matter to be taken lightly. Finally, the previous Trustee has acted inappropriately and, perhaps, even illegally. The decision to let another unit owner to forego paying assessments was very likely outside the scope of their authority. At the very least, it was a dereliction of duty. An attorney can best advise you if it is worth seeking criminal or civil charges against the previous trustee in an attempt to collect the delinquent common fees. Once you get all of these problems behind you, M.C., you can focus on running the association like a business, as it was intended to be. Good luck!

Noisy Condo Neighbor Serves On the Board and Doesn’t Follow Rules

W.T. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I have been having a problem with the owner of the Condo above me. I have asked him several times to try and cut down the noise on his floor (walking, dropping heavy objects, etc.t) which makes noise come down into my condo. He also has a Doberman dog that sometimes barks 30 or more minutes at a time. Yesterday, I talked with him and asked if he would try to cut down on the noise. I have done this before with some results. Yesterday when I asked the question, he came unglued, telling me not to speak to him again and a few other choice words. I feel that if he continues to make excessive noise, I should be able to ask him to try and keep the noise down. What else can or should I do? Also, this person is one of our directors and the other two goes along with him.

Mister Condo replies:

W.T., I am sorry for your problems and for your inconsiderate upstairs neighbor. I am going to give you two answers for your consideration. The first is to write to the Board with as much supporting documentation to describe the noise and the rules violations being committed by your upstairs neighbor. Almost all condos have rules about noise and the rights to a peaceable environment for all residents. Further, almost all have rules about pets and the acceptable noise level and noise curation that other residents have to tolerate. A 30-minute session of any dog barking is sure to be a rule violation. In the past, you have taken a neighborly approach with some success. Speaking with an agreeable neighbor is a great start but that is no longer an option. Your neighbor has made it clear he has no intention of keeping the noise down. Your recourse is with the other members of the Board, his fellow Directors. If they are reluctant to take action against your neighbor, you have two practical options. First, you can sue the Board for neglecting to enforce the noise covenants of the association. Your second option is to move out of this community. It is unfortunate that it has come to this but having a jerk for a neighbor is not only annoying, it can be downright dangerous. Having a jerk like this neighbor on your Board is equally dangerous, especially if his fellow Board members are reluctant to enforce the rules against him. I am sorry I don’t have better news for you. Keep me posted and good luck!

Noisy Condo Tenant May Get Evicted!

N.A. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I have been a noisy tenant in my rental condo. I used to work nights, and I would be unwinding at odd hours. Due to complaints, I even switched my hours to work in the daytime. I still have my night time tendencies. I have been paying tons of fines, but the condo board “will be discussing my issue”. I have been trying really hard to walk on eggshells (keep the TV down, etc…) What can they do to me? Can they kick me out?

Mister Condo replies:

N.A., a noisy tenant is a big problem for a condo association. Unit owners and neighbors complain to the Board and the Board must take action against the unit owner and the tenant of the unit owner – you. Being aware of the problem is half of the battle and you seem to know that you been violating association rules for some time and have paid a “ton of fines”. The idea of the fine is to correct the behavior. In other words, fine the offender a few times and the offender should stop violating the rules. To accrue “tons of fines” means that strategy hasn’t worked with you which puts the Board under pressure to take further action. Without knowing the full details of what options are available to the Board, I will say you and your landlord may find yourselves on the receiving end of a lawsuit seeking eviction. If that happens you will most definitely want to contact an attorney to defend yourself. I have to ask you why you would want to continue to rent in this community where your lifestyle clearly doesn’t fit with the community as a whole? Why not rent in an apartment that doesn’t have as many rules or rent a single-family home where you can live as you see fit. Changing work hours and walking on eggshells doesn’t sound too appealing. You have every right to express yourself as an individual and live as you see fit. However, residing in a condo comes with rules that you voluntarily agree to. If you can’t follow them, you are asking for the kind of trouble you are receiving. I suggest you rethink this particular condo as your home and consider living somewhere more appropriate to your lifestyle. All the best!

Neighbor Versus Neighbor Over Condo Common Walkway Use

P.C. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

On a common walkway, I have had a small table and 2 chairs to sit outside of my condo of 25 years. My new neighbor of 2 months, who rents at a highly discounted rate, wants my spot because it is in front of his living room windows and the absentee owner is threatening me with the police. Help! (My door is one foot from the table) it is a corner area.

Mister Condo replies:

P.C., I am sorry for your situation. Without knowing more about the particulars, let me focus on what I do know from what you have told me. Common walkways in most community association are just that, common. That means they are for the entire community’s use, not just any one member. Regardless of how long you have had a table and chair set up in this location, it wasn’t “yours” to begin with. The association, not the neighbor’s tenant or absentee neighbor, is the only entity that can ask you to remove your table and chair as the association is the owner of the common walkway. The fact that the neighbor rents at a highly discounted rate and that the owner is absent does not come into play at all here. The police will have no interest in where you set up your table and chair because you are on private property and aren’t breaking any laws. If the neighbor continues to harass you in such manner, you may be the one calling the police as they are harassing you and have no right to do so. If the neighbor has a complaint against your improper use of the common walkway, he should complain to the Board or Property Manager. It is then up to the Board to take action against you (they would likely ask you to remove your table and chair). Once you comply, you would be well within your rights to complain to the Board if anyone else set up in your previous area. The bottom line is that common walkways are not owned by unit owners; they are the property of the association and, as such, are under direct control of the Board; not other unit owners. My guess is that unless the Board is willing to implement an association-wide enforcement of the rule, nothing is going to happen. If the neighboring unit owner or renter threatens you in any way, call the police. Harassment is illegal. Good luck!

Nosy Neighbors Spying on Condo Owner so Owner Spies Back!

M.S. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

 

An older couple (70ish) that lives on the same floor as me (but we share no common wall) is loitering next to my front door multiple times a day. I suspected that they had an issue with me for a while now as a few times I saw them in the hallway in close proximity to my door and they look really flustered. I’ve said ‘Good Morning” and they just look down and shuffle off.

If I see them in person they typically avoid me. If they go out of their door to go to the elevator around the same time as I do and they hear me coming down the hall they will go back in to their condo. Could be coincidence but has happened a few too many times for me to feel that way.

So, they obviously have an issue with me but I’m unsure what they hope to get by listening to my door which I have video evidence of them doing multiple times a day (I bought a wifi door peephole camera after suspecting this happening for weeks).

The camera has motion detection and only records when it senses activity. They walk past my door sloooowly in one direction and then 30 seconds later pass by again in the direction back to their condo, and on occasion they’ll pause in front of my door and act like they are looking for something on their phone and stand there for about 30 seconds. They even look intently at the door as one tends to do when you are trying to listen for something. This happens during the middle of the day and later at night around 10 and sometimes even after midnight when I’ve usually gone to sleep.

My gut tells me they have an issue with me and would prefer it if I were no longer their neighbor and want to catch me breaking some HOA rule. However, I don’t know what rule I could be breaking that they could hear through the door at 4 pm, can’t get a noise violation at that time. Especially if they have to loiter in front of the door and listen intently to hear anything. Also, I own my condo so even if I did get a noise complaint it’s not going to get me thrown out of the building.

I guess my question is what do I do with this evidence? How do I get this annoying activity to stop? I’m reluctant to go to Security with it because they too do the slow minute walk past my door and loiter routine. So, it feels like I’m the bad kid on the block that everyone hates.

Full Disclosure: I’m in my 30s and the majority of the tenants seem to be in their 70’s and up. I did not know this when I bought the place or I might have reconsidered. When I first moved in I wanted to enjoy my nice new condo and had a ‘few’ parties. However, I never got noise complaints from those absolutely bonkers parties and I got tired of things breaking in my new condo and gave up that practice. I also got a girlfriend in November and haven’t had anyone over accept her since. All we do is make dinners and watch Netflix.

Mister Condo replies:

 

M.S., you’ll pardon me if I tell you this story made me grin and chuckle. The idea of neighbors loitering outside of your front door is amusing. The fact that you have added a video security doorbell system that records them doing so is also amusing. I have a similar video doorbell myself and I have videos of neighbors inspecting the unit which features giant pictures of their faces as they place their eyes within inches of the unit. As long as neither you nor your neighbors are violating and/or reporting any violations of association rules, I really don’t see that anything needs to be done. Nosy neighbors are often part of living in a high-density housing community. You may have found the ultimate in nosy neighbors and I think you have deduced what their “issue” is with having you as a neighbor. Neither you or they are under any obligation to like each other. If you find the complexion of the community is not desirable to you, you may think about selling and buying somewhere with more folks your age. Other than that, enjoy your condominium if not your neighbors. Their antics are likely to keep you entertained for months to come. One serious note: you might want to check to make sure that video recording of folks in the HOA common area (the front hall of your shared entrance condominium) isn’t considered an invasion of privacy issue and that your condo doesn’t have rules against such a device. That could put you at odds with your association and could lead to fines. Other than that, I wish you all the best!

HOA Has No Jurisdiction Outside of Association Grounds

K.K. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in a townhouse HOA. Everyone in the facility is allowed 2 parking spacing, those with more than 2 cars need to apply with the HOA to obtain an extra space as well as pay a fee for the parking permit. To avoid paying the fee and applying to the HOA it seems a majority of the community parks outside of and on the street into the community illegally in some areas. Honestly, it looks horrendous and makes it difficult to pull into and out of the community as it blocks the view of oncoming cars. What can I do about this? Should I call the county about the other owners/tenants parking illegally?

Mister Condo replies:

K.K., I am sorry that you are dealing with a challenging parking situation at your HOA. While the HOA controls much of what happens inside the grounds of the association, they have absolutely no jurisdiction over what happens outside the common grounds. The County officials are your only hope of correcting this problem. If no laws are being broken, there really isn’t anything else you can do about it. All the best!