Tag Archives: Renting

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!

Hardship Case Causing Condo Rental Cap Chaos

H.S. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our association passed an amendment to the CC&R’s capping the rental of units at 17. We have 66 units. This was done in 2006 to help us keep FHA funding. Our last management company let it slide, so our new management company has gone through the hoops and we are now FHA approved again. We have a clause that allows a temporary hardship case which allows renting of a unit out for 1 year and 2nd extension of 6 months. Someone has married and his wife has 3 kids and lives in a house. He bought the condo just before the big collapse in prices. Now he cannot sell it for what it is worth. His wife was laid off. He wants to claim hardship to rent for a year. He said we had until a certain date to give him an answer for a court filing. Well we finally decided to let him do it after conferring with our lawyer. But we waited past his deadline. We have a rental list that he could get on. He has not signed up. If the current person who is number 17 on rental list and cannot get his unit rented within 60 days, he falls to bottom of the rental list. The next person on the rental list moves up to rental position. This person with the hardship case, if he signed up, would now be able to rent the 1 bedroom unit as a regular rental now, if the other 4 folks on the list allowed him to skip over them to be 1st on the rental list. Then we would be back to 17 units rented and no hardship case. This way we won’t lose FHA funding. Some folks are saying FHA is now allowing up to 50%. We are considered the old school rule of condos. I don’t want to take a chance of going over 17 units if I can help it. Will we be in trouble being over the 17 units with this hardship case?

 

Mister Condo replies:

H.S., your adherence to FHA rules while trying to accommodate a unit owner who has fallen on hard times is admirable. However, since you have already involved the association attorney in these proceedings, my best advice is to continue to seek legal advice to guide you through these murky waters. While hardship cases tug at my heartstrings, condo associations are businesses and do not have the luxury of caring about individual unit owner’s unique situations. It sounds to me like you have some very reasonable rules in place about rental restrictions. They have been in place since 2006 and, I am assuming, are in compliance with your state laws on rental caps within community associations. The unit owner’s lack of ability to sell the unit for what it was purchased for is not the business of the association. The collection of common fees from that unit owner and the enforcement of the rental restrictions and other rules of the association are the concern of the Board. If your true concern is FHA funding eligibility, you would be wise to speak with an expert in that area. I am not an expert but I would agree that the current standard of 50% is accurate as of the time of this writing. As your question so easily points out, the FHA changes the rules so today’s answer may not be true tomorrow. There are other reasons for maintaining rental caps, including quality of life for unit owners. Additionally, if you do wish to change the rental cap restrictions, you will need to hold another vote on the matter.

Subletting the Condo is Against the Rules but Who Can Sue?

M.B. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I am about to enter a legal dispute with the inspector that performed the inspection of my condo prior to purchase. I currently live in the condo with two roommates. The Master Deed states that any lease or occupancy agreement should be in writing and should apply to the entire unit, not merely a portion thereof. There are only 4 units in the condo association and they all know that I live with roommates. No one has a problem or intends to take action against me at this time. For legal purposes, can I get around this clause by creating a lease that encompasses the entire condo with a total rent due each month for the entire unit vs. separate bedrooms?

Additionally, can someone outside the condo association, such as the inspector, file a claim against me for violating the Condo Bylaws? Would that hold up in court if the other unit owners/Condo Association members do not wish to take action?

Mister Condo replies:

M.B., I am sorry you find yourself in this somewhat precarious situation. The term for what you are doing is subletting and many condo association documents do not allow for such activity. There are a variety of reasons for this but suffice to say that if your association has a clause that prohibits you from doing what you are doing, you are on shaky ground here. The good news is that it is up to the association to take action against you should they choose and, from what you have stated here, they aren’t interested in doing so. Unless there are local or state laws forbidding the action of subletting (uncommon, in my experience), you and your roommates should be fine. I am not sure how the inspector of your unit fits into this equation as inspectors are typically charged with the soundness of the structure and your issue has nothing to do with that. I am not aware of anyone other than the association being able to take any action against you that violates the condo’s governing documents as they would not have the authority. However, if local or state laws are being violated, that is another story. If you are sued by anyone, my advice is to hire your own attorney and counter the suit. From what you have told me, you would likely prevail against anyone other than the association. Keep in mind that I am not an attorney nor am I an expert is your local or state laws regarding leasing and subletting. For a proper legal opinion, seek the counsel of a qualified local attorney. 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!

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!

Private Entry Requirement for Condo

R.S. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I thought that all condos had their own private entrance, directly from outside. We rented with option to buy what was described as a condo, but in effect, there are 3 flights of stairs that take you to the front door, which is on an open floor with many different doors opening from it to several condos. Any thoughts on this?

Mister Condo replies:

R.S., from what you are describing, there is a common area leading to the individual units. The units are described in the deed as what is included specific to that condo. There is no requirement that a condo have a private entrance directly from the outside and, in fact, that would be impossible in many circumstances. Think of a multi-floored condominium building. Folks on the fifth floor would need to enter on the first floor and then use shared areas to get to their floor, a shared hallway to get to their unit, and so on. This is quite common. All of these common elements are owned and maintained by the condo association. Your monthly common fee contribution goes, in part, for the upkeep and maintenance of these common elements. Additionally, because these areas are under the direct control of the association, the Board is charged with governing their use. That is why you will have rules about what can and can’t be done in the common areas. A good example is storage. Condos typically prohibit storage of any owner items in common areas. This is to stop folks from having to navigate past bikes, toys, furniture, and any other items folks might try to store in the common areas. The open area you have described is a great example of an association-owned common area. I hope that quick explanation helps. All the best!

Quiet Condo May Not Be the Ideal Home for a Musician

A.M. from British Columbia, Canada writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

We have been renting condos for five years and just moved into a new one about two months ago. We have suddenly received two notes on our door as well as a formal complaint regarding “bass-heavy music” within the last two weeks. The neighbour complaining lives below our unit. My partner makes music for a living, so his job involves playing projects out loud on studio monitors (which are designed to play music accurately) in order to mix and master. One day we played music for only 5 minutes and the next morning, I found a note on the door. He already limits when he plays music to typical working hours so as not to disturb neighbours. The volume is set to an ordinary listening level, we do not own a subwoofer (although the neighbour below thinks we do), and my partner makes an effort to complete as much work as he can on headphones. They have also complained about our footsteps, but our building has laminate wood floors and we can hear creaking from footsteps and other noises from the unit above us all the time. Is the noise we make considered “reasonable?” If so, how can we get the neighbour to stop standing outside our door listening, leaving notes, and complaining to Strata? Since we are renting, I would really like to avoid being fined and having our landlord think we are bad tenants! Thanks in advance.

Mister Condo replies:

A.M., loud noises and condos (strata for my Canadian readers) don’t mix. I assume your landlord gave you a copy of the rules and regulations for your new rental. While I doubt there is a specific provision about “bass-heavy music”, there are very likely rules about noise levels and time of days specifically set aside as quiet hours. The issue is that you and your neighbor have different ideas about what noises are and aren’t acceptable. You both have the right to peaceable enjoyment of your unit so the real question is where do your rights end and theirs begin? Regardless of what type of music monitoring system your partner is using it is quite possible that the decibel level is simply too high for doing that type of work in the condo. You mentioned headphones and that is a perfect solution, in my opinion, because there is no possibility of the sound disturbing anyone. The noise from walking across floors is another story and I can’t imagine any Board issuing a fine for that type of noise violation unless the condo rules state that hardwood or laminate floors must be covered by carpets to avoid excess noise from neighbors walking around their units. My advice is to use the headphones exclusively when performing the music work. Considerate neighbors are priceless in such tight living quarters. Thank you for your letter.

Injured at the Condo; Reluctant to Sue Owner

B.C. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I fell down the stairs right outside my condo. Everyone is saying to sue, but I rent from a private owner. I am afraid of repercussions. I like where I live but will need surgery and medical bills are piling. I know I have case. Any words of wisdom?

Mister Condo replies:

B.C., I am sorry that you were injured at your condo. Since you wrote to me a while back, I hope that by now you are well on the mend. Regardless of who you are renting from you now have medical bills. It is time to speak to an attorney who will better advise you of your rights and the plausibility of your case. In this litigious world in which we live, lawsuits are quite commonplace. Injury cases, in particular, are heard every day in courtrooms around the country. Many are even settled out of court. However, few are litigated with the proper advice of a qualified local attorney. If your part of the country is like mine, you can see their ads all over town. I am sure there is one ready to assist you. It shouldn’t cost you your rental agreement but if it does, there are other places to live. There may be only one place for you to recover the financial debt this injury has caused you. Get well soon!

Condo Landlord Concerned for Safety of Tenant Due to Water Intrusion and Mold

M.S. from North Carolina writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I need some guidance. I have a tenant renting my condo. There have been a series of leaks into my unit due to leaks coming from the roof. There were three or four different leaks that my HOA repaired, as this is the HOA’s responsibility. I have documentation from emails and work orders placed with our community’s management company. I also have pictures and video of leaks coming into my unit from the tenant and pictures I have taken myself over a three now going into four-month period. There have been no more leaks to date and the HOA Board sent a ” handyman” to assess the damage to my unit. This handyman was told he needed to give a quote to The HOA Board to ” patch and paint”, needless to say this was not acceptable to me as the owner nor for my tenant. The handyman sent two quotes to the management company and HOA. The cost difference of the two were dramatically different. I have a copy of the quotes with all other documentation. I now have concerns due to the amount of time the HOA Board let the leaks continue into my unit and their refusal to do any repairs until now. My primary concern is the well-being and health of anyone in my unit and the cost of remediation and restoration. How do you suggest I proceed in order to get my unit restored to original condition and protect myself and tenant?

Mister Condo replies:

M.S., I am sorry for you and your tenant that you experienced damage and loss from water intrusion events. It happens quite often and how the Board and management company respond is different in every community. However, the governance documents of the association describe your rights and your local or state law may also have something to say on the matter. The fact that you have documentation is critical to you getting better results. Also, mold and mildew that can result from such a water intrusion event may not appear for quite some time. This can create a serious health problem for anyone residing in the unit should that happen. If the Board fails to take adequate action, you really only have one option and that is to talk to an attorney to see if you have a case against the association for failing to honor the condo docs with regards to proper upkeep and repair of the unit.

Condo Seeks to Ban Pets for Renters

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K.B. from Hartford County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our Association allows unit owners to have dogs. Can the Association prohibit renters or lessees from having dogs?

Mister Condo replies:

K.B., the short answer is “yes” but be careful. I am not an attorney so please accept my advice as friendly. For a proper legal opinion on amending your documents properly, I must insist that you speak with a qualified attorney. Many associations have rules about banning pets in rental units. However, if these rules aren’t in place as part of the original condo docs (most aren’t) then the documents need to be amended to reflect the changes. That means following the proper procedure for amending the documents, often requiring a full vote of all unit owners, not just the Board. The issue is that a unit owner who purchased a unit with the intent of renting it out did so based on the rules in place at the time of purchase. Changing those rules after the unit is purchased may create difficulty for the landlord unit owner who should be allowed a vote on the issue before the documents are amended. Depending on the make-up of your association, the rule may or may not pass. Condos with high concentration of landlord owners are not likely to pass a rule that restricts who the landlord can rent to. Condos with high concentrations of resident unit owners are very likely to pass such a rule. Finally, keep in mind that even with a rule in place prohibiting renters from having pets, that rule does not apply to any emotional service animal. If a renter has a note from a health care professional that the dog or cat they own provides emotional support, it is not considered a pet. The association cannot ban emotional support animals from residents regardless of their status as owners or renters. All the best!