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!

2 thoughts on “Neighbor Versus Neighbor Over Condo Common Walkway Use

  1. While I agree with your answer to your answer to the question of the placement of table in a common walkway, thought I would offer a clarification. You indicate that the Association owns the common areas. That is not correct. All the unit owners own the common areas “in common” according to their respective common interest. The Association only manages the common areas for the benefit of all unit owners. – BK

    1. B.K., that is a good point but from a practical standpoint, the ownership of the property is secondary to the management of how that property is used. Common areas are under the management of the association and the management of the association is the duty of the Board, who is the only authority on who or how the common elements can be used. P.C. has been using common area for personal use without the permission of the Board. Now, a neighbor has challenged that use of the common area. Neither has a claim to its use. That decision should come from the Board. Thanks for the clarification on actual ownership of the land. All the best!

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