Tag Archives: Neighbor Issues

Noisy Condo Neighbor Ruining Renter’s Peace and Quiet

P.M. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I am dealing with a neighbor at condo. I am a renter; she is not. She is loud and noise every night until at least 1:00 a.m. The owner I’m renting from is lazy. I can’t wait until May to leave next year. I tried talking to this neighbor and had to call police twice. The manager of the association says they will send a letter but the problem still persists. Recently, a picture fell of my wall and broke. She stomps on her floor on purpose and intentionally drop loud objects. I am so angry I can’t sleep. What can I do?

Mister Condo replies:

C.J., lazy or not, your landlord has a responsibility to provide you with a rental unit as outlined in your rental agreement. Most likely, that agreement included a copy of the rules and regulation for the condo association where you reside. Inside those rules, there are the steps for complaining about another unit owner or resident that isn’t following the rules. Typically, a report is made to either a Property Manager or directly to the Board. There are usually rules about acceptable noise levels, quiet hours, and peaceable enjoyment for unit owners. As a renter, you may or may not have the ability to directly lodge such a complaint, meaning it may need to come through your landlord. If your landlord refuses to support you in this effort, he may be breaking terms of your lease which may leave you the opportunity to end the lease early. However, if you decide to break your lease early you may be out of your deposit or create a legal battle between you and your landlord. My practical advice is for you to motivate your landlord or have him give you the power to work directly with the Property Manager or Board to bring about a resolution. Understand that it may take time and as the months go by towards the end of your lease, the simplest solution may be to not renew your lease. If you decide to break your lease, speak with an attorney to see what legal and financial consequences you may be incurring. It is an unfortunate circumstance to say the least. However, in tight living spaces as many condos offer, an unruly neighbor can make living there unpleasant. Good luck!

Mentally Ill Child of Condo Neighbor Creating Noise Nuisance

D.E. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

We have been living in our condo for three years and love it. Recently new owners moved in next door with their 9-year-old child. Come to find out she bangs her head against the wall and screams bloody murder at all times of the day. Unfortunately, she has mental illness – bipolar, OCD, etc. I have spoken with them nicely 3 times and when we have asked it does stop so it seems like it is in control and they are just lazy. They came from a 3800-square foot home to a 1450-square foot condo. Knowing there are issues like this I would think you would investigate your surroundings first before buying this type of place. My brother was mentally challenged so I certainly have compassion but this really has to stop – I am on the verge of calling 911 every time this happens. What is my recourse?

Mister Condo replies:

D.E., you are kind to be considerate and compassionate to understand the challenges your neighbors are facing. However, all unit owners, including you, have a right to peaceable enjoyment of their units. Clearly, this noise, regardless of the source, is violating your right to peace and quiet. Your recourse is to file an official complaint against your neighbor with the Board who will then take appropriate action. Typically, that involves summoning your neighbor to appear before the Board to address the rule violation. The Board then can take further action which is typically a fine or whatever else is outlined in your governing documents. If the noise continues, you continue to report it to the Board in writing (usually via the Property Manager). Your complaints are records of the association and, as such, are subject to review by any association members, including your neighbor. For this reason, some unit owners are reluctant to file a formal complaint. However, you have already tried the nice route and only received temporary reprieve. It is up to you to take the next step to restore the peace and quiet you are entitled to. Perhaps your neighbor will do a better job of restoring the calmness or perhaps they will realize that this close living quarters just isn’t the proper environment to raise a child with these types of special needs. Either way, I hope you get your peace and quiet back. All the best!

Unapproved Remodel to Upstairs Condo Damages Downstairs Unit

L.S. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

The question I have is this, I live in a condo that has 4 units per bldg. I own mine. These condos were built in the late 50’s maybe early 60’s. Unfortunately, there is an HOA fee of 150 dollars a month and the outside of the buildings look horrible. They really need to be painted and new front and rear doors placed. The front porch is falling apart. The condos were not built like the newer ones are. Someone purchased the upstairs condo and decided that they would remodel the whole condo. There was a wall removed and other major repairs without a permit that has caused damage to my condo. I spoke to a contractor who looked at the damage and informed me that if we were to try to fix it, it would cause more damage. The upstairs condo would receive damage also. I am just wondering who should pay for the damage. The owner knows that there were issues and he wanted his handy man who caused the damage and himself to look at it. I am not sure what good that would do. Should I file a claim with my insurance company and let them fight it out or is there another way to deal with this? Am I going to be stuck with a huge bill?

Mister Condo replies:

L.S., you certainly have a lot going on inside your 4-unit building. Let me address each item separately. First up, the HOA isn’t maintaining the property as they should. There is no reason for painting to go undone other than there is no money in the Reserve Fund for the project. You mention a fee of $150. If that fee isn’t enough to cover operating expenses and set aside money for routine maintenance like painting and door replacement, there will need to be a Special Assessment and/or an increase to common fees. Neither option is popular but that is the only way to get the association back on track so it can fulfill its duty to maintain the building exteriors.

The remodeling project is another issue entirely. It sounds like the upstairs unit owner did some unauthorized and unpermitted work on their unit causing damage to your unit. It’s time to speak with an attorney about suing the unit owner for the damage. You should file a claim with your insurance if you have suffered financial damage worth filing a claim over. However, the fault is clearly with the unit owner who did the unauthorized remodel. You governance documents likely spell out what types of repairs and improvements can be made to unit interiors. If they knocked down a supporting wall, you could be looking at a very expensive repair, not to mention the potential danger you are in. I would want to get this taken care of immediately. If they are amenable to correcting the problem at their expense, you may not need to sue but, in my experience, once the dollars start adding up, a lawsuit is almost inevitable. You should be able to recover your damages though and I am hopeful that your upstairs neighbor will do the right thing. Good luck!

Condo Unit Owners Finds No Water Supply Shut Off in Unit

M.L. from Hartford County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

My friend has a condo and her water pipes burst. Her shut off is in her neighbor’s unit, and she was never told that. Is this legal? I just don’t see how it could be if you wanted to have work done to your own condo you would have to make sure your neighbor was going to be home?

Mister Condo replies:

M.L., yes, it is legal and quite common for condominium units to share items such as water shut-off valves. She may not have been “told” but the association is responsible for having access to shared common elements such as the water supply. If she wants to have plumbing work done in her unit that involves having the water main turned off, the request should go to the association and access is granted by the unit owner where the shot-off resides. The association’s right of access to such items is outlined in the condo governance documents which is where all unit owners are “told” about such items. Emergency situations such as a water line bursting are not uncommon and the association’s right of entry into the unit where the water supply shut-off is housed is protected by the condo’s governing documents. Routing repairs and upgrades are another matter. Depending on how many units will be effected by the water supply disruption, approval to do so could take a week or longer to get allow the association to properly notify all unit owners who will be effected. Good luck!

Condo Lawsuit Revelation Shouldn’t Cause Issue for Selling Owner

J.P. from New York writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I am planning to sell my condo soon. One of my fellow owners is deeply behind on HOA fees. There’s a law suit pending. I’m told this could hold up my selling. I’m in Brooklyn. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Mister Condo replies:

J.P., I am sorry that your association is dealing with a delinquent unit owner. While lawsuits against the association might cause a potential buyer for your unit to shy away from the deal, a lawsuit initiated by the association against a delinquent unit owner should not. The association’s only risk here is that the unit owner doesn’t pay in timely fashion. The association’s risk is relatively low, seeing as they have a lien against the unit owner in arrears. It is a requirement that lawsuits that the association is involved in must be disclosed to a potential buyer, I don’t see where this suit should make them change their mind about purchasing your unit. This type of lawsuit is quite common and almost always won by the association. Good luck!

Consequences for Parking in Someone Else’s Condo Parking Space

T.H. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

What consequences can an HOA do to people who park in spot that is assigned to someone else?

Mister Condo replies:

T.H., the consequences to a unit owner or guest for parking in an assigned parking spot that isn’t their own can be as severe as the governing documents and local and state law permit. For most associations, the first offense is a warning, followed by a fine, followed by towing of the vehicle at the owner’s expense. Some associations waive the first two procedures and proceed directly to towing. Seeing as most condominiums and HOAs are private property, vehicles are only allowed to be parked where the association says so with the exception of deeded parking spaces which are owned by the individual unit owners. Either way, it is commonly known that parking in HOAs is tightly controlled. Unit owners and residents have the responsibility of informing their guests of where to park when visiting. If they don’t, a warning letter, fine, or vehicle towing usually gets their attention and help them avoid future offenses. Good luck!

Mixed Use Condo With a Mixed Up Business Owner

D.L. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in a condo of three units, 2 homes and 1 business. We had a meeting and we were discussing installing compressors for new central air conditioners for each unit. The business would be replacing an existing compressor which was located under my stairway to my front door. My front door is actually located on the backside of the house. The other units’ front doors are in the front. We agreed to have them installed in a new location under a different stairway so as not to hurt anyone’s value or change the look of the grounds. The business owner who was replacing his could not leave his in the same place due to a change in building codes because it was close to meters. Without my knowledge or the other home owners’ knowledge the business owner had his compressor replaced and had it installed next to my front staircase in a common area. He has violated the bylaws because he cannot place anything without a 25-day advance notice in a letter format and must have our consent on it. He also went against the association who had agreed we would locate them under another deck. I have written him emails and told him he has violated the bylaws and such but he will not relocate it and basically is playing dumb to everything. Me and the other home owner hold 51% of the vote together so even if he lies now and says he didn’t agree it didn’t matter he would still be out voted. He has devalued my unit also by installing it next to my stairs and if I can’t get it moved by him I will have to put up with the noise. I have the backing other the president of the association but even when she tells him to move it he is carefully in his responses and just says he doesn’t understand even though we have spelled it out clearly to him. If I get a lawyer what will that get me, if they write a letter. Can I make it pay for my lawyer’s costs through the condo so how to get my money back? Do you have any suggestion what steps to take next and what should I expect to see in a letter written by a lawyer? Please tell me your thoughts am I stuck with this unit near my stairs devaluing my investment.

Mister Condo replies:

D.L., from what you have told me, you need an attorney to sue the business owner for violating the by-laws of the association. When you speak with an attorney, be sure to ask that the legal fees are incorporated in the settlement. You may be able to settle this through arbitration if the business owner is willing but it doesn’t sound like he is being cooperative or even acknowledging that he has violated the rules for installing a new air conditioner. Mixed use condominiums such as yours can be tricky but the rules are in place to protect all owners from something like this happening. Your association could also decide to foot the bill for the lawsuit seeing as the rules of the association were violated. In fact, the attorney will better let you know who has the better case. The business owner didn’t install the A/C unit on your land; he installed it on association property. As such, the association may be the aggrieved party. This is what attorneys are for. It’s time to get one involved.

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 Owner Resident Surrounded by Renters

A.C. from Florida writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I am in Florida and one of 2 owners in a 45-unit building. The other owner has turned the building into rental units what can we do to get out of our mortgage and make him pay?

Mister Condo replies:

A.C., thank you for writing and I am sorry you find yourself in a less than desirable situation. I am not 100% sure I understand your predicament. If there are only two owners in this building and an investor has purchased the remaining units, there isn’t too much you can do outside of reviewing the association’s governing documents to determine if any rules or by-laws have been broken by the owner who is renting out his units. It is possible that there is a limit or cap to how many units can be rented out at any one time but I doubt there are any restrictions on the owner that forbids him from renting units in general. As for your mortgage, that is between you and the bank who holds your mortgage. Mortgages are not the business of the association so you are on your own there. As for getting the multiple unit owner to pay, that sounds unlikely in my opinion. You may wish to speak to a community association attorney in your state for additional clarity but unless rules have been broken, you may just need to either put up with the renters (who still need to follow the rules of the community) or sell your unit to get out of your mortgage and out of the community. Good luck!

Coast to Coast Damage – Florida Condo Unit Damaged by Neighboring Unit Owner from California

B.C. from Florida writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in Seminole County, Florida and own a condo which my family and I occupy in a community of 150 units. Many of those units are owned by out-of-state or even out-of-country owners and managed by local property management companies. Our unit was damaged by the unit above us two months ago when that unit’s A/C air handler (original air handler, dating back to 1984) had its drain line back up (horribly clogged and not maintained), overflow and leak a considerable amount of water into our unit’s ceiling, walls and floor below. The unit is owned by someone in California, but it is managed by a local property management company. That company had initially agreed to pay for the damage to our unit, but has since reneged on that promise. Can I sue the management company in small claims court or do I have to sue the California owner? If it is the owner whom I must sue, can I have the process service done on the management company instead of having the owner served in Southern California? Please help if you can! Thank you!

Mister Condo replies:

B.C., I am sorry your unit took damage from an improperly maintained air handler from a neighboring unit. I am not an attorney or an expert in Florida state law so I can only offer friendly advice here. Your claim should be against the unit owner. The unit owner needs to be served papers according to your state’s laws on such matters. My guess is that will require a certified letter from you (or your attorney should you decide to use one) and the owner of record according to your local real estate authority. After that, it is simply a question of working through the legal process of a hearing, which, from what you have told me, you would likely prevail. Ideally, the expense and inconvenience of a lawsuit can be avoided by the unit owner simply paying for the repairs or issuing a claim against any insurance they might have to either pay the claim or a portion thereof. In my opinion, you cannot have process service done against the management company because they don’t own the unit. Good luck!