J.D. from outside of Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
This is another neighbor-neighbor noise issue. We have one tenant who is complaining that his upstairs neighbors are noisy and disruptive and are harassing him. Upstairs neighbor say that they have not even heard from their neighbor after an initial, and unfortunate encounter. None of the other neighbors surrounding the upstairs owner are complaining. Does the tenant even have standing to bring a complaint to the board or should it be the unit owner? We do have a noise nuisance clause in our bylaws.
Mister Condo replies:
J.D., neighbor versus neighbor complaints are usually quite the headache for the Board. The renter’s complaint is to his landlord, the unit owner. The landlord should then either issue the complaint to the Board or empower the tenant to work with the Board through a power of attorney letter. Absent that, the renter really has no business interacting with the Board. Let’s assume the complaint comes in through the proper channel. What is the Board going to do?
If there has been an assault between neighbors, this is a matter for the police, not the Board. Ongoing noise complaints can be investigated and the offending unit owners can be brought before the Board to defend against the complaint. The complaint needs to come from the unit owner and be against the offending unit owner. This is an official record of the association once the complaint is made and the Board does need to review the complaint before deciding whether or not to act on the complaint. Action can include a warning letter, a summons to appear before the Board, and a fine if the Board appearance does not satisfy the Board and the by-laws allow such action. If the unit owner is not satisfied that the Board has done enough to protect the unit owner’s rights, he has the right to bring suit against the Board. The tenant also has the right to sue the landlord for not fulfilling the rental agreement which should have a peaceable enjoyment clause as does the condo docs. This has the potential to be a legal nightmare so keep an eye on what goes on between the players. However, from a more practical standpoint, it is more likely that the initial confrontation has died down and the residents are behaving better towards each other. If not, consult with the association’s attorney and look at the risk to the association and see what steps can be taken to enforce the association’s rules. If appropriate, encourage the landlord to have the tenant call the police if the neighbors threaten or intimidate him. Condo Boards are not law enforcement. When laws get broken, get the police involved. Good luck!