Category Archives: Nuisance

Mentally Challenged Condo Owner Challenging Entire Community

A.P. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

About 1.5 years ago, a husband and wife moved into our 16-unit condominium. It was clear from the outset that there was something off with the husband. He looked disheveled, didn’t acknowledge people and walked around in a daze. Roughly 1 year ago, the wife moved out and left him alone in the unit. After he was taken away by ambulance several times, he began receiving daily visits from a visiting nurse. One time the nurse called police and he was taken away again and stayed away for over a month. At that time, a neighbor overheard the nurse outside telling police that she was concerned for her safety and did not want to go back inside. No one has seen her since. Now he has been yelling in the hall, slamming his door over and over and pounding on the door of another resident. As a trustee, I have reached out to the wife, who is still an owner and pays the condo fee. My question is, what recourse do we have other than repeatedly calling the police when he acts out? Can we somehow force them to sell their unit?

Mister Condo replies:

A.P., I am sorry for the commotion and disturbance of peace that your association is experiencing as a result of having this unit owner as a resident. There is very little that can be done on behalf of the association. The Board can enforce complaints when rules are violated. Your documents outline typical offenses (loud noises at off hours, and so on). Action can be taken that include warnings and fines. Other than that, disturbances that rise to the involvement of a crime are being handled correctly by calling the police. The Board is not the law and when laws are broken, the police are the right call. Unless your documents provide for a type of eviction (doubtful) there isn’t too much you can do about a resident dealing with mental health issues. If the common fees are not paid on time, you may have collection efforts that could lead to foreclosure and eviction but that isn’t the case here. The fees are paid on time. If you have an association attorney, this would be a great example of asking what else can be done in your state. From what you have told me here, I see no further action that the association can take at this time. All the best!

30-Year Condo Unit Owner Not Feeling Good Vibrations!

mc_horrified

B.B. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in and own my condo. I have been here 30 years. The condo is 40 years old. I live on the top floor, 3rd floor. I have vibration coming from the unit on my bedroom side, and I am aware of what it is. But my association won’t do anything because he denied what was going on. There is no noise. I just feel my mattress move enough to keep me awake. The lack of sleep is causing health issues. I now have vibration coming from the living room side when the owner decided to move back in. I did not have it when she had a tenant living there. I think the floors have some serious issues, but I can’t get the Board or the Management company to do anything. The building is old, we had termites years ago, and there have been a few small earthquakes. I believe a Dyson fan is causing the living room vibration, but cooperation is difficult. I want to get a vibration test done reflecting the problem I feel, but all the big companies don’t help. I am so frustrated. How can I get anyone to do anything? Can an attorney do something? Before I spend money for one, what kind of attorney helps in this kind of situation? Thanks.

Mister Condo replies:

B.B., I am so sorry for your problems. After 30 years in the condo, I am sure you are quite upset that your peaceable enjoyment is now being upset by tremors and vibrations. I am not certain what, if anything, can be done although I certainly think you should have a discussion with an attorney about what your rights are as outlined in your condo documents. Most documents address nuisance such as you are describing and you may be able to have the Dyson product banned from use if it can be demonstrated to violate your association’s nuisance rules. However, it won’t be easy as the most common nuisance items are noise and odor. Vibrations aren’t likely to trip the noise violation and the blowing of air isn’t causing an odor violation from what you have told me. Older building do come with their own challenges and earthquakes and general settling that have occurred over the past 40 years will most certainly have taken their toll on the building. If the building no longer meets your living requirements, you might consider selling and moving to a new home where the age of the building may not be as much a factor as your current home. That may not solve the current problem but it would no longer be your problem. If you speak with a local attorney knowledgeable in real estate law and you cannot find a legal remedy to your situation I think you will have to have a good long talk with yourself about how much you can tolerate and still be content. If this condo isn’t going to do it for you, I am certain there are many others that would. Good luck!

Condo Renter Smoking Out Other Unit Owners

mc_horrified

B.D. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

We are a small association, 4 units. Our current bylaws do not prohibit smoking on our common property–deck, parking areas, etc. One of the owners has rented his unit to a smoker, and did not put a no smoking clause in the lease. If our board now votes 3-1 to add a “no smoking on the common property” clause to our bylaws, will the owner be forced to have the renter comply with this?

Mister Condo replies:

B.D., unless you have state or local laws to the contrary, it is very likely that the renter will have to comply with the “no smoking” rule of the association. If the renter does not follow these rules, the unit owner (not the renter) is the one who gets fined for the rule violation. This may create tension between the renter, the unit owner, and the association, but that is truly not the concern of the Board. Smoking is generally considered “nuisance” in condominiums and can be prohibited by the association. Even if the current landlord did not ban smoking in the rental agreement, the agreement likely obligates the renter to follow the rules of the association. This is just one more rule to be followed. All the best!

Smoked Out by Renting Condo Neighbors

mc_horrified

J.M. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

We have a rule at our condo that states “no noxious or offensive activity shall be carried on in any unit or in the common areas; nor shall anything be done willfully or negligently which may be or become an annoyance or nuisance to the other unit owners or occupants. No unit owner or occupant shall do or permit anything by such persons that will interfere with the rights, comforts or convenience of other unit owners or occupants.” The tenants in the unit next to mine are chain smokers. We asked the management company to start the process to call the owner of the other unit to a hearing but she said that she checked with the lawyer and he doesn’t think the board can do anything about smoke so she advised the board to wait until she asked him a second time. She is stalling and the board follows everything she says to do. How do you force a board and management co. to follow their own rules of enforcement? We just don’t want their smoke in our unit, we don’t care if they smoke outside. If a rule is enforced the board can fine the owner $25 a day but of the 5 board members, one board member is a relative of that unit’s owner and 2 smoke. We are stuck because the infraction rules state that the board has the right to fine not that it’s mandatory. Just today after a month we got the management company to send out a letter requesting a hearing but some of the board members don’t want to enforce this. We have to wait two months because they meet every other month. At that point they can vote to wait or do nothing again. Any ideas?

Mister Condo replies:

J.M., smoking at condominiums is a hot button issue for many associations. Some have gone as far to ban smoking completely, including common areas and unit interiors. However, it does take Board action to implement such measures and it would appear that you do not have Board members that are going to agree with your position and are likely to obstruct any corrective actions you seek to have them apply. Unless you can get these Board members to take action, you will very likely have to bring suit against the Board for not enforcing the rules on nuisance. This is not simple or inexpensive and you will likely have to hire an attorney to help you draft the lawsuit. However, this will keep the conversation going and bring the issue to a close. If you prevail, you will get your smoke-free environment to which, in my opinion, you are entitled. If you do not prevail, you may need to look at other ways opf protecting yourself, up to and including selling your condo to live someplace else.

I strongly urge you to review the State of Connecticut document entitled “Smoke Free Housing for Condominium Owners and Homeowner Associations at http://www.ct.gov/dph/cwp/view.asp?A=3137&Q=486714. It details what steps need to be taken to eliminate smoking, which is NOT a right, in your association. Of course, I wish you clean air and the best of luck.

Condo Neighbor Cooking Up Some Bad Odors!

mc_horrified

J.R. from Hartford County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Is there any recourse for smells from cooking (or any strong permeating smells) that make the owners of the adjoining townhouse very uncomfortable? The new neighbors are renters. The complainants are long-time residents but now feel they cannot live in their unit because the smell is so strong. Nothing covers the odors. They are not even sure someone else would buy their unit.

Mister Condo replies:

J.R., that is an interesting problem. Most condominium by-laws have provisions that disallow nuisance, which can come in many forms, including noise, smoke, etc.. The real question is will the odor of strong food smells constitute a nuisance, and if so, can the association take steps to rid the nuisance? Most of the recent legal cases I have seen deal with nuisance odors from marijuana, which is now legal in many states for home consumption. Many condominium associations have brought suit against marijuana-smoking unit owners under the nuisance clause of their governing documents and have been able to prevent smoking of marijuana within their associations.

I am not an attorney but I think you would be well advised to seek a qualified legal opinion on this matter before you proceed further. Challenging someone’s cooking choices could lead to a discrimination lawsuit if the association is not careful. Get a qualified legal opinion before you take action. If you can’t solve the odor problem, at least you will know you did all you could to protect the offended unit owner. Good luck!