Tag Archives: Renting

Family Not Welcome in Older Condo Community

D.S. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

My husband, me, & our preschool child live in a privately-owned condo rental. A senior neighbor advised me that there are no kid bicycles allowed here as well as toys & they will be disposed of. Next, the condo manager came by and accused us of not supervising our child and that he was in the street, also parking lot. Allegations not true. Then another Senior resident came knocking with the condo rules. I read them and gave them back. I received a copy of my own rules and did note it stated there are to be no bouncing balls or bicycles in the common areas. My son and I have been yelled and screamed at by neighbors for absolutely no reason at times so it’s obvious they have a problem with us but we are pretty good people who keep to ourselves. I was told by a senior resident that all the neighbors here do not like us living here. He stated it was because of our little boy. Our car broke down on a Saturday and we went to take the bus, I noticed that I was being followed part way to the bus stop by one of the neighbors. I also noticed that she was on the phone. I told my husband I’m sure she was calling the association and letting them know that our car was broke down. I can’t prove that but we did within about 48 hours receive a notice that we were going to have our car towed within 24 hours because it was not running. There are several other cars in our area that are out of compliance with their rules, they have not received any notification to move their cars and they are also good friends with management. Is it legal for them to tow our car only and not tow other cars that are not following the same rules? We were told to just move if we didn’t like the rules, this was by the manager. We never said this and my husband has responded to them via letter. They have now been threatening to tow the car for 2 weeks at least. But they still have not. We are in process if attempting to sell it as per our mechanics advise. Any help would be appreciated.

Mister Condo replies:

D.S., it certainly sounds as though you and your family are not being welcomed in this particular community. Is this an age-restricted community, meaning it was designed for older residents (aged 55+)? If so, I can see where the presence of a child and a young family is not welcome here. Regardless of the reason, you are on the enforcement side of rules violations and I am guessing that will continue unless you are able to fully comply with the association’s rules. That can be quite the challenge with a young child and a broken-down vehicle. As for the enforcement of the rules, that is the association’s duty. Rules are typically enforced at the request of a fellow unit owner who complains about the violation or by the Board or Manager if so empowered. If you observe other violations, you would likely notify your landlord who would inform the association. The association could then take action against the rule violators if they so choose. It is possible that may have a discrimination complaint against the association but I cannot offer legal advice in this column. If you feel you have a case for discrimination, you should contact a local attorney who could better advise you of your options. If I were in your position, I would speak to my landlord and let him know how you are being treated. I certainly wouldn’t renew my lease and I would consider moving out as soon as possible. There is no reason for you to not enjoy your rental home and I am sure you can find a more family-friendly community. All the best!

Condo Restricts Renters Use of Rooftop Amenity

V.S. from Boston writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I own a condominium in Boston, MA. The Condominium Association amended the Condominium Trust document with a 67% vote of Unit Owners and recorded it at the Registry of Deeds. The amendment prohibits renters from having furniture on the roof deck. Owner occupants are allowed to have furniture on the common roof deck but renters are not allowed to have furniture on the roof deck. Renters are allowed to use the roof deck but cannot leave furniture up on the roof deck. Can the Condominium Association enforce such a provision or is this discriminatory against the renters? Thank you for your guidance.

Mister Condo replies:

V.S., the answer is “Yes” to both questions. Yes, the association can discriminate against renters regarding the use of the roof. Yes, they can enforce the rule seeing as it was passed properly. The real question is can you now sue the association for discrimination seeing as they have created a “class” of residents called “renters”. I am not an attorney nor am I an expert in Massachusetts state law but your question really needs to be posed to a local attorney to see if it has merit. You are not being denied access to the amenity; you are simply being denied access to have furniture placed on the roof. I wouldn’t think such a case has merit but if you think it is worth pursuing, I encourage you to do so. All the best!

Condo Landlord May Not Be Who He Claims

J.M. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

How do I get information about a condo owner? I am renting from someone I have not rented from before and I want to know that he is the true owner.

Mister Condo replies:

J.M., I appreciate your practice of due diligence. Nobody wants to get scammed by an impostor. The local land record office or equivalent is the keeper of such records. It is usually located in a City Hall or similar complex in the city or town where the property is located. Once you find out where the records are kept, it is usually as simple as visiting the office and looking up the record. Depending on where the property is located and the size of the records office, this could be a simple visit or it could take hours. There are also some online resources to assist but many charge a fee for the full information you are seeking. Still, if you have a genuine concern, that fee could be small potatoes compared to getting duped out of your first, last, and security deposit. Finding out the true owner is only half of the battle. Once you have that information, you’ll want to confirm the true identity of the person offering the lease. Just because I claim to be “Joe Smith” doesn’t mean I am “Joe Smith”. Also, you may find the property is owned by a business entity instead of a person. Again, you will need proof that the lease is offered by the business entity and not “Joe Smith”. My best advice to offer you is that if your gut is telling you that something is fishy, do your homework before signing the lease and paying your money. There may be other rentals available that you will feel better about signing a lease. Good luck!

Condo Landlord Thwarted by Pet Ownership for Renter Rules

J.C. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Master Deed By-laws state only one pet per condo. House Rules state one pet per condo and then states no renters can have pets. Paragraph two speaks of renters having no pets. Paragraph three speaks of lessees needing to provide 2 references. Our lessee has one pet. POA wants to fine us because they say the House Rules say no pets for renters. I believe someone signing a lease for longer than 30 days is considered a lessee, not a renter. How do I fight this without an attorney? Thank you.

Mister Condo replies:

J.C., I am sorry you find yourself at odds with your association over the pet rental rules. The terms “renters” and “lessees” are generally interchangeable so it would appear that your documents are in conflict with themselves. This is actually not that uncommon as many associations simply use a boilerplate as a basis for their documents. If there were no verbiage about the pet restrictions on renters, I would say you are in the clear. However, even though it appears to be in conflict with an earlier statement on the subject, the fact that there is a restriction on pets for renters elsewhere in the document, I would say you will not be successful in challenging the association’s position. You can challenge the association by filing suit, seeking arbitration, or whatever other method of dispute settlement is available to you. However, if you do not wish to hire an attorney, you will do so on your own. The association on the other hand would likely use the services of an attorney to defend themselves. In my non-lelgal opinion, the association will prevail. Good luck!

Condo Association Approaching 50% Rental Mark

H.W. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our 306-unit condo is now at 48% rentals. The Board relies on a manager to do this type of work. What will happen when we get to 50%?

Mister Condo replies:

H.W., thank you for writing. There are many challenges to managing and living in a community with a high rental rate. For starters, fewer owner occupied units usually means that fewer of the residents have a long-term concern for the well-being and stability of the community. After all, they have no investment in the property and are likely to leave when it suits them by simply not renewing their lease. Many associations with high rental rates also report difficulty in enforcing parking and other rules. Again, some renters (certainly not all) tend not to pay close attention to the rules of the association. The biggest challenge the community may face is qualification for FHA-backed mortgages, which dominate the mortgage world. Many condominiums will lose their eligibility for FHA-backed mortgages if the community becomes more than 50% rental units. FHA changes its rules from time to time so you should really check with a mortgage company that specializes in FHA-backed mortgages for an idea of the impact your association may face if/when the 50% rental threshold is surpassed. I found an excellent article on the subject at Housingwire.com. You can read it here: https://www.housingwire.com/articles/38374-fha-lowers-owner-occupancy-requirements-for-condos. All the best!

Cantankerous Condo Renter Unhappy at Condo

B.C. from Florida writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

The condo president is a nightmare. The Board is a nightmare. This condo is intentionally making it difficult for guests to get in and out of the building. The intention is increased security but it is just increased harassment. If a nurse or CNA visits every day, calling the gate every day is absurd. They get too many phone calls and don’t have time to make parking passes for the number of visitors we have during the winter. Disabled parking is not required for condos in FL — but they have a sign saying that if a resident parks in a guest spot (even with a handicap sticker) the car will be towed. There is a sign saying I can be fined for drinking water while swimming. Funny thing is….they have no one to enforce any rules or call the tow company so the folks who rent here ignore the rules and the board and work everything out with the parking amongst ourselves. I cannot be evicted by a condo board and my landlord will never evict me. They can’t “put pressure” on the landlord because he will ignore them. I have spoken with the President of the Rec Center and he sees my side but refuses to hire his incompetent manager who is the cause of ALL problems here. I never agreed to follow any rules. I don’t even have a written lease anymore….because my landlord trusts me. If the Board of this condo refuses to let in my guests, I will either have a panic attack and call the police or I will insult someone who will then hit me and then I will file battery charges. Can I file a law suit against the Condo Board for discrimination against the disabled? The manager is hated here…how do I get her fired without ending up in jail myself?

Mister Condo replies:

B.C., I can’t for the life of me understand why you would live in a place that is so out of touch with your living needs. A condominium is not an assisted living center and the association is under no obligation to change its rules to suit your needs. You, and everyone else, need to follow the rules of the community. The Board, democratically elected by all unit owners, including your landlord, conducts the business of the association as it sees fit but does have to answer to unit owners at annual elections. If they aren’t doing their jobs they are likely to be voted off the Board. That doesn’t seem to be the case from what you have told me. Your lack of lease agreement with your landlord does not exempt you from the rules of the community. In fact, my guess is that your landlord is in violation of the rules for renting units by not having a written agreement with you on file with the association. You claim you can’t be evicted by the association but without a valid rental agreement to defend yourself, I am not so sure you are correct. You would be unwise to do anything illegal such as verbally assault any of the Board members or Property Manager at your condo. You would do well to speak with your own attorney and see what, if any, legal rights you have. From what you have told me here, I don’t see where any laws are being violated but I am not an attorney and offer no legal advice here. You might consider moving to a more suitable community when your lease ends, whenever that is (who knows with an unwritten lease?). Whatever you decide to do, I wish you a happier condo life experience. All the best!

Can Condo Association Evict an Owner’s Tenant?

G.Q. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Can a condo association evict an owner’s tenant?

Mister Condo replies:

G.Q., depending on the by-laws of the association, it is quite possible although it is not a simple process. State laws and local laws also come into play. The by-laws spell out acceptable use of condo units. Let’s say a unit is being used for an illegal activity, like producing drugs. The association has the right to protect itself from this illegal activity and can take actions that would lead to an eviction. If the offense is far less serious like the renter plays loud music, the association can take steps against the unit owner, which might motivate the owner to evict the tenant. Eviction is a serious matter and should be handled with the assistance of an attorney. If the association has an attorney, this is a perfect example of when to use him or her. Of course, the ideal situation is for the tenant to act in accordance with association rules, which the tenant typically agrees to when they sign their lease. All the best!

Insurance Runaround Leaves Condo Renter with Uncovered Losses

P.P. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I was a tenant in a condo that was damaged by water that entered the unit causing complete damage to 800 square feet of the hardwood flooring, Sheetrock and our personal property/furniture. Since owners’ insurance approved full compensation for damage, cause described as ice dam. Our tenants’ insurance declined claim because of owners’ insurance ‘ice dam’. Upon demo of floors and walls it was discovered that the damage was long term and was the result of gross negligence. It was discovered that incorrect installation of replacement windows which cause a gap under the windows causing water to enter the full length of the wall. Our furniture against that wall was no only water damaged, but infested with mold. A total loss. The condo association also received insurance money to pay the owners deductible and repair the gap and siding. Our tenant’s insurance refuses to revise the original decline. Neither the owner, who had the Windows replaced without a permit from the condo, nor the condo association is taking responsibility for the cost of our damage. We continued to pay rent during the three-months-time to repair, without access to the main level of the house. We’ve contacted the state of CT INSURANCE DEPARTMENT and representative simply sends us the original ice dam determination from Liberty Mutual. We are in contact with the association’s insurance who points to owner’s liability so points back at negligence of association. We have lost 50% of our furniture and damage to the rest. Where can we go from here?

Mister Condo replies:

P.P., I am sorry for all of your problems. As a tenant, your renter’s insurance should be your primary method of recovery for loss such as this. Unfortunately, your insurer is looking to shift the burden and has pointed a finger at the association, delaying your claim and leaving you stuck in the middle. For starters, I would not renew my lease when it is up. You have identified enough underlying problems that you would be wise to seek a new rental. Your claim of loss is most likely going to be against your Landlord and his claim will be against the association. However, before you get into the expense and ongoing legal battle with insurers, your landlord, and the condo association, you need solid legal advice from a local attorney who can tell you what to expect. I would think your insurer is going to be your best bet for getting money back. You paid them a premium and they offered you the coverage. You put in a claim with them and they denied the claim. They are the most direct path to recovering your money. Then, they can take on the expense of suing the association’s insurance company for damage caused by negligence, and so on. If you try to tackle all of these issues on your own, you could end up spending thousands of dollars with little to show for it at the end of the day. At least with your own insurer, you can demonstrate the coverage you had in place at the time of the loss. They have their own attorneys who may be willing to settle with you to avoid a lawsuit. Speak to an attorney today to get a legal opinion on your best course of action. Good luck!

Condo Rental Blues

A.B. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I rent a unit in an 8-family condo building. The day I got my keys, three neighbors knocked on my door and told me the previous tenant moved out because they called the police on her four times for noise. They proceeded to list noise complaints and told me they could hear me already (I was cleaning! I had not moved in yet). They told me the previous tenants talked on the phone loudly after 10pm, banged the water off and on, and slammed the cupboards – this is why they called the police.

Now I’ve been living here for two months and I can hear everything the complaining neighbor (below me) speaks – clearly – and I can hear her snoring. I don’t think there is sound proofing if I can hear her talking through my floor. Then this morning at 6:00 am the neighbor across the hall had a fight with an unknown woman on the landing outside my door and I was a bit frightened.

I told my landlord about their initial complaints. Should I tell him about the fight? He lied to me as to the reason the previous tenants left (he told me they broke the lease because they had financial troubles) when the real reason was the downstairs neighbor called the police on them four times and they were essentially forced out. I am in a year lease and I am thinking I made a mistake moving here. Advice?

Mister Condo replies:

A.B., I am sorry that your new rental is looking less than ideal. The reality is you are a new tenant and a new member of this close-knit community. They have already shown you some of their quirks and you may or may not fit in with this group of folks. The good news is that you will know in short order if you will want to stay there more than 12 months. If you enjoy your experience, you’re good to go. If you find it unenjoyable, there is no need to renew your lease. If you let your landlord know you aren’t planning on renewing your lease and that you are even willing to leave the lease early, your landlord can begin marketing the unit sooner and may find a renter to replace you before your lease ends, which sounds to me like that is what you want. If you voluntarily break your lease without your landlord’s agreement, you may still be on the hook for your rent and lose your security deposit. That isn’t what you want. My advice is to give it a try. If it doesn’t work out, try working with your landlord to end your lease early. If that doesn’t work out, don’t renew your lease and hope for a better group of neighbors next time. Good luck!

Apartment to Condo; Now Back to Apartment

N.P. from Illinois writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

We bought a condo in 2010 in a large apartment complex that was going condo right when the recession hit. It was an investment and we rent it out. Not many condos were sold, the prices never dropped in the recession. Even now many (not sure how many) of the units are still rented out by the developer. Now we have received a letter saying that the developer wants to buy back our unit and NOT be a condo development. The letter is friendly, and says nothing about what happens if we don’t want to sell. We’ve had one tenant in there this entire time (with different roommates) and been very happy with this investment. Do you know what the laws are regarding this situation?

Mister Condo replies:

N.P., dissolution of condominiums varies from state to state. Just as when the project filed to become a condo, a new filing will be made to dissolve it. I am not familiar with the specifics of Illinois law regarding the dissolution of a condo but I imagine it is similar to other states. Typically, unless court ordered (which happens when an association fails or defaults), a petitioner sends in the required paperwork to dissolve the association. There is usually a majority or full 100% agreement required by all with an interest in the association. That can include mortgage holders as well as unit owners. This is a very legal action and you will most certainly wish to hire an attorney to guide you.

I found this link on dissolution of non-profit corporations in your state to be of use: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=080501050HArt%2E+12&ActID=2280&ChapterID=65&SeqStart=10900000&SeqEnd=12900000

I can see where the developer wants to stop the bleeding and the polite letter was likely an opening attempt to gauge your interest. The reality is that if there are many unsold units in the condo, it may fail due to lack of funds from common fees to pay expenses. If that happens, you could see a creditor sue the association and have a judge dissolve the association or put it in receivership. You don’t want that as that could be quite costly for all involved. If the developer wants to convert back to apartments, you should look into how best to protect your investment. It is likely that a smooth transition could actually help you out in the long run. Good luck!