Tag Archives: Crime

Condo Crime Unaddressed by the Condo Board

J.S. from California writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

We live in a condo complex in Newport Beach, California. We had number of incidents violated on our personal property, with 5 Police Reports so far. This included slashed tires, a window shot out in our office, my electric scooter stolen, my wife’s car broken into and everything taken, and most recently, all the air let out of our tires, even while parked in our private covered carport.

The Board and Management Company refuses to get involved, saying they don’t get involved in neighbor to neighbor disagreements. However, these are not simple disagreements, but vandalism.

Mister Condo replies:

J.S., I am sorry for all of the crime that is occurring in your condo complex. I should point out that the police are the people you call for crime, not the Board or Management Company. When laws are broken, it is the responsibility of law enforcement (the police) to handle the matter. You should also notify the Board and Management Company as they may wish to alert other residents of the dangerous activity occurring on association grounds.

Other condo complexes that have experienced high crime have done things like “Neighborhood Watch” or similar programs. I am curious as to why the Board and Management Company claim that these crimes are “neighbor to neighbor disagreements”. Is there proof that fellow unit owners are committing these crimes? Neither the Board nor the Management Company are law enforcement bodies, they simply govern the property as outlined in the governance documents. Depending on your local laws, they may have a duty to inform residents that crime is occurring on the property. Hopefully, the local law enforcement personnel can help you stop the criminal activity. Good luck!

Sliding Glass Doors Make Condos Easy Break-in Targets

D.K. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

We have mostly glass patio doors at my condo and a lot of break-ins because of this. Can the association prevent me from replacing this with a more solid, much safer door?

Mister Condo replies:

D.K., I am sorry that your condo suffers from a high crime rate. While I share your concern for safety and home protection, the style and design of an exterior door is part of the unit’s architectural compliance standards and is subject to the standards approved by the Board of Directors for your association. That being said, your Board should also be aware of the high level of break-ins and share your concern for the safety of residents. Explain your concerns to the Board and ask them for a solution to solve the problem. They may approve a new design standard for the glass doors but that is not common. Ideally, the underlying issue of too many break-ins would be addressed with a security solution such as video cameras or security patrols. All the best!

Who Pays to Repair Condo Vandalism?

M.N. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I serve on the board and had my property vandalized who’s responsible, me or the Condo?

Mister Condo replies:

M.N., I am sorry you had your property vandalized. Regardless of your position on the Board, if a crime has been committed against your own personal property, it would typically be your responsibility to repair it and, hopefully, your insurance would cover the damage. If association property were damaged, then it is the association’s responsibility to repair the damage. Whatever the damage, I hope you contacted the police. Vandalism is a crime. The Board isn’t the Police Department. The Board governs and enforces the covenants of the association; the local police handle criminal matters. Good luck!

Condo Owner Harassed by Board President and Other Unit Owners

D.T. from Litchfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

How to bring about a board meeting to discuss being harassed by the president of the condo board and other owners?

Mister Condo replies:

D.T., I am sorry that you feel you are being harassed by unit owners or Board members at your association. Typically, you would simply hire your own attorney and bring a lawsuit or criminal charges against the Board members or unit owners that are harassing you. You don’t have the ability to call a Board meeting but you could attend an upcoming Board meeting and ask that the issue be addressed by the Board. The Board does not have the ability to intervene on legal matters. In other words, if your attorney thinks you have a case for harassment, the matter is settled through legal channels, not community association governance. I hope you have a positive outcome. Good luck!

Violent Condo Resident Danger to Himself and Others

A.O. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I reside in a 4-unit condominium, all owner occupied, in Massachusetts. We are a self-managed property and three years ago a new resident purchased one of the units; this owner’s Master Deed is both in their name and his mother’s; his mother does not live on the premises.

Since this individual has moved into the Association there have been significant violations of bylaws as well as safety concerns that have involved the police: spray painting the exterior of his door with red spray paint, stating obscenities; screaming for hours on end at night while also causing physical destruction within his own unit; threatening to murder people; leaving pools of his own blood in common area; taking a baseball bat to the fire alarm; and a series of other disconcerting behaviors.

We, and our neighbors, routinely call the police and they have taken him into custody on some occasions and not others. In some cases, unfortunately, association members have not called the police out of fear of escalating the situation (fears include that this individual could hurt himself, others or cause damage to our property). We have attempted to engage the parent, who is also on the deed, who only assures us that this individual is harmless.

While we are not certain that this individual is mentally ill, we assume that the presenting behaviors are indicative of such, so we are at a loss as to how to protect ourselves and our property while also being mindful of the law.

What can we legally do?

Mister Condo replies:

A.O., there isn’t too much that you can do other than what you have already done. There are no laws that prohibit mentally ill people from owning real estate. The police have been called (as they should be) and have taken appropriate action as they deem fit. That takes care of the criminal activity. As for the violations of rules and by-laws, the Board should be taking whatever action is appropriate to protect the association. However, if you have a violent or mentally unstable resident in your building, there is little that can be done by the Board. Ideally, this person would leave your condo and get the help they need. Until then, I am afraid the only other option you have is likely to put up with the behavior or sell your unit. I know which one I would do. Good luck!

Condo Employees Harass Condo Resident

D.G. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I’ve been harassed, insulted for no reason at all, and put in a false light by the employees of my condominium. It all started when I reported to management an incident with an abusive contractor that works for the building. He had my apartment keys because he was renovating my property while I was overseas. When he was done with the job he used my apartment as his personal warehouse and because of this I had to have the walls painted again, at my expense. Shortly after that, employees started giving me the cold shoulder and my life in this condo has gone down since.

One day, one security guard came to my home and shouted some insulting words to me just because I had my entrance door open to let some nice ocean breeze flow in the apartment. “You have to close your door because DIRT is coming out of your apartment”, he shouted, and left. BTW, you can come to my home and eat from the floor, he just wanted to insult me.

I complained to management and mentioned to them how security personnel in this building has a keen eye for minor things such as “an open front door”, but a blind eye for major things such as: 1. A shooting (right next to the lobby where the stores and restaurants are). 2. Personal property stolen from the pool area by outsiders. 3. Two cars stolen from the parking area. 4. A maintenance employee using and abusing building’s property for years (he provided floor polishing services (for cash) to the contractor I mentioned before).

I’m not sure if the security guard was fired (this building is huge) but the harassment got worse. Some employees are putting residents against me saying that I’m a tattle-tale. I even lost a website design contract because of lies and bad word of mouth. What can I do to protect my right to the quiet enjoyment of my property without being annoyed or harassed? Thanks.

Mister Condo replies:

D.G., you certainly have your hands full in this community association. I am pretty sure I would have sold and moved by now just to be rid of the crime issue. However, you have elected to stay and have your rights respected. In my opinion, criminal matters should be reported to the police as they occur. Harassment is a crime and your local police are the first call when you are physically or verbally abused. If you are violating a rule (even if you don’t agree with the rule, you are bound by it) like having an open door, I would advise you to follow the rules so you don’t open yourself up to additional abuse or fines from the association.

The underlying problem here seems to be the management company’s behavior and the rampant abuses you have observed from contractors hired by the management company. Are you the only one who has noticed this? It would seem to me that multiple unit owners and residents have experienced similar? If so, the Board should be taking action to correct the situation. You mentioned that your apartment had been used as a warehouse while you were away. Clearly, that should have been reported to the Board and halted at once. It is now water under the bridge and would likely happen again if you are gone for any length of time. Document what you can and report it to the Board along with a letter demanding that never happen again.

If the Board takes no action to correct these actions, you have two basic choices. You can sue for any abuse of your rights as a unit owner or renter. Talk with a local attorney to get an opinion as to what rights have been violated and what remedies are available to you. This could be expensive but may get you the relief you seek. Your second option is to get more involved with your Board, including getting yourself or a like-minded individual elected to the Board. Management company contracts are difficult to break. However, they don’t have to be renewed. If the management company is underperforming, it is time for a new management company. The Board hires the management company. The only way to affect that decision is to work with the Board to make sure they understand that unit owners demand better. Of course, if you are in the minority and everyone else seems happy with the management company, that strategy won’t work. Either way, you will need to take action to correct these issues. Good luck!

Is Condo Landlord Liable for Illegal Actions by Tenant?

M.J. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Is the condominium unit owner responsible for their renter’s theft of property of another unit owner’s unit?

Mister Condo replies:

M.J., thanks for writing and I am sorry that your tenants have put you in this position. The short answer is “it depends”. What it depends upon is local and state law that govern such issues. As a landlord, it is generally held that you are not responsible for anything that your tenant does. However, if you don’t have a proper lease in place or if you have housed a known felon you may have some liability for their actions. You should really speak with an attorney to determine your liability based on local laws. Also, if you are named in a lawsuit by the neighboring unit owner who was the theft victim, you may have no choice but to defend yourself. My guess is that as long as you have a valid lease to show that you were not the unit occupant but merely the landlord, it is unlikely that you will be found responsible for the actions of your tenant. However, I would advise against renewing the lease of a tenant that is found guilty of such a crime. All the best!

Fire and Feces Smearing Attack on Neighboring Condo Unit Owner!

J.P. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

This week a condo owner set her neighbor’s condo door on fire but, fortunately, the man inside was able to get out unharmed. The previous week she smeared her feces on his door, and 2 days later smeared cat poop on his door. When a police report was made, she would not open her door to the police. A few weeks before that she trashed her own condo and then called the superintendent and was very upset, claiming she came home to find her condo trashed and jewelry stolen. The police arrested her after the fire. There was white powder all over the door and on the floor which the police are trying to identify. Can she be charged if shown to be mentally unstable?

Mister Condo replies:

J.P., I am sorry for this troubling series of incidents at your condominium. When residents behave in such manner, the police are your best call to help alleviate the problem. I am not a law enforcement expert nor am I a legal expert by any stretch of the imagination. However, you should refer to your condominium’s governance documents about disallowed use of certain activities at your association. You may find some terminology about setting fires or illegal activity that may give the association the ability to take legal action against this resident and effectively have them evicted from the property. This is not a simple process and you will most certainly need assistance from the association’s attorney to determine if it is even possible or worth pursuing. Other than that, my advice is to stay vigilant. Unless this person is arrested or given the treatment they apparently need, they are a danger to themselves, fellow residents, and the association itself as any fire set by this person is likely to damage association property. I hope you and your fellow residents get a handle on this problem in short order. Good luck!

Condo Altercation Caught On Condo Surveillance System

M.J. from Brooklyn, NY writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I’m a unit owner, my wife is on the condo board. I got into an altercation with a stranger in front of our building. The guy was injured. He went to the hospital and filed a false report that I walked up to him and just beat him up for no reason. The truth is I asked why he was trying to light the intercom on fire and he attacked me and I defended myself. The Camera system only caught the end part when I was beating him up. I was arrested because the management company gave the video to the police.

My question is does the management first have to get permission from the board to allow the police to take the video without a warrant? There are no bylaws on this matter and the board only found out the management company gave the police afterwards. Can I argue it was not legally obtained?

Mister Condo replies:

M.J., I am sorry for your situation and I am certainly sorry that you got into an altercation trying to defend association equipment. As you can likely know by now, the police are the proper authority to contact when you witness any sort of vandalism of association property. Taking matters into your own hands is certainly an act of bravery but can come with dire consequences as it has in your case. The management company does report to the Board with regards to all matters dealing with association governance. The security cameras and the footage captured by the cameras are association property and under the jurisdiction of the Board. However, the management company is also charged by the Board to handle many day-to-day business decisions that surface in between Board meetings. The police coming to the office and requesting the video surveillance tapes is a great example of where there are no previous examples of how to handle the situation. Providing the video tape was a decision the management company made. Whether or not they were in their legal right to do so is a matter for attorneys to settle. I am not an attorney and offer no legal advice here. You should most certainly hire an attorney to represent you in this court matter and your attorney is the one who can best advise you of the admissibility of the tape as evidence and whether or not it was legally obtained. From what you have described here, the tape was asked for and delivered. I don’t see where there is any argument to be made about how it was obtained. The question is whether or not the management company had the authority to release the association’s property to the police. My guess is that if it wasn’t handed over as requested, a warrant for its release would likely have been forthcoming. Either way, your attorney will offer you the best advice in this matter. My advice for you is to never confront a vandal or any other criminal. A quick call to the police is a far better solution that protects your safety and keeps you out of altercations. Good luck!

Hyper-Local Social Network for Condominiums?

C.B. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Do you know of any hyper-local social network that’s available for condo buildings? We have NextDoor in this neighborhood, but it’s not possible to concentrate that into just one building, and I don’t think the surrounding area needs to know about our every blocked drain, or squeaky elevator. The ability to post notices, or ask questions of our building-mates would be really beneficial, I think, but so far I haven’t found any system to facilitate the process. Thanks for your help with this.

Mister Condo replies:

C.B., thank you for your question. There are many software tools to assist in condo governance and management. I am not sure that any qualify as NextDoor (https://nextdoor.com) does as a hyper-local social network but I am guessing some will have the features you are looking for. I have been looking at Condo Ally (https://condoally.com) recently and I was quite impressed. Have you looked at any others? I know of associations that take advantage of commonly used social media, like Facebook, and create pages for their communities. Of course, the open dialogue nature of Facebook means folks can pretty much post anything on the page and that can be just as bad as it is good. I would think that a moderator-controlled environment is the best for condo associations. I’m not sure the exact product you are looking for exists but I’d like to hear from you or any of my other readers what is working for them. All the best!