A.M. from Hartford County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I received a warning letter from condo management that they received a neighbor complaint that I was seen feeding stray cats which drew raccoons to my patio. This is simply not true! A cat comes and visits me but it is a unit owner’s pet and I let him in. I am pretty sure I know who the neighbors are that complained. Up to this point we were friends and I was shocked that I received this letter. I put some bird seed out in the grass for the birds and maybe that is what drew the raccoons to the area? Yet others in my complex have bird feeders on the property. I resent being accused of something I didn’t do. I was threatened with a fine and a hearing if this continued. What do I do?
Mister Condo replies:
A.M., I am sure you were shocked to receive a warning letter from the condo property manager. No one likes to be accused of something they didn’t do. However, the management company does need to respond to the complaint they received. After all, you would expect them to respond to a complaint if you made one, wouldn’t you? That is the nature of the job for the property manager and it is all a normal course of business.
As you can imagine, unit owners reporting violations of rules by other unit owners is an ugly process. It often pits neighbor against neighbor. The good news is that it also allows for simple resolution in a very public forum. You have the right to defend yourself and you also have the right to ask that all rules regarding pets and wildlife be observed. You mention that neighbors have birdfeeders. I assume birdfeeders are allowed. You mention that you distribute birdseed by simply putting it out on the grass. Maybe the solution is for you to purchase an inexpensive birdfeeder.
You also mention stray cats, raccoons, and a neighbor’s cat who apparently is allowed to roam the common grounds freely. Stray or feral cats can be a big problem for condos as can raccoons, skunks, and other unwanted wildlife known to spread disease. Most condos forbid pets off leash as well for safety concerns. You might want to check your rules about these issues and make sure you are in compliance.
Finally, if you are fined by the association for a rule infraction, you have the right to appear before the Board and tell your side of the story. Assuming you have been a good resident for some time, they will consider your side of the story before making a decision as to whether or not to levy a fine against you. It sounds to me like that is highly unlikely. My advice is to get a birdfeeder and enjoy the birds while not tempting raccoons or other unwanted wildlife on to the property. Best wishes!