Unruly Renter Makes for a Bad Condo Neighbor

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M.T. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I own a one bedroom condo in a building with four units. Of the four units, three are owner occupied. The rented one bedroom condo is a nightmare. The unit has been in the foreclosure process and the renter behaves awfully. He is unemployed and spends the entire day chain smoking cigarettes and drinking. At times, he has a toddler son, the child’s mother, and several friends staying down there. People come and go at all hours slamming doors and screaming. His guests take up all the visitor spots. The worst thing is his pit bull which barks and growls through the window whenever I step out my back door. His dog and his friends’ dogs bark all day and night. I can’t sell or I would. I am desperate. The other 3 owners are equally frustrated. Thanks for your help.

Mister Condo replies:

M.T., I am truly horrified by the living conditions you are describing. You and your neighbors are being denied peaceable enjoyment of your units. The renter is not conforming to the rules of the community and is creating intolerable living conditions for all residents of such a small condo. You need a long term strategy for combating this type of abuse and you need the resolve of your neighbors to help make it happen.

There are no rules or laws against residents behaving poorly. Renters do not generally have the same vested interest in keeping the community marketable and healthy. From what you have described, I can’t imagine this renter showing any interest in following the rules so my advice is to go after the owner, who is already in foreclosure. Work with your Board to make sure your community association attorney is doing all that can be done to move this foreclosure along. The sooner you attract a new owner, the sooner you are likely to be rid of this unruly neighbor. In the meantime, I’d keep the local police on speed dial. Your town likely has ordinances against barking dogs and after hour noise. Don’t hesitate to involve the police if laws are being broken.

Also, now would be a good time to put rules in place to protect the community from future abuse from renters. You can pass rules that disallow pets for renters. You can charge “move in, move out” fees to discourage renting. You can require extra security deposits for renters. You can limit their use of parking spaces and enforce those rules by towing their vehicles. The community is not defenseless against abusive tenants. If you need advice on how to legally protect yourselves, I encourage you to seek the advice of an attorney. You can beat this problem and reclaim the peaceable enjoyment that is rightfully yours. Good luck!

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