D.L. from Fairfield County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
One unit owner’s son is residing in the unit where he gets drunk and leaves the stove on. Last evening he passed out and the gas was on but not lit causing the evacuation of the building. This is the 4th time the fire department has been called regarding this behavior. Is there any action we can take?
Mister Condo replies:
D.L., I am glad no one was hurt and that there was no fire at the condo. You have no doubt seen news stories over the years where careless or reckless behavior inside of condo units leaves all residents in danger. Recent news stories have included space heaters, smoking in bed, and your story of a potential natural gas explosion caused by leaving an unlit stove running. These are all dangerous and possibly deadly activities conducted in the privacy of the unit, outside the eyes of law enforcement and community association governors. Depending on the association’s governance documents, there may be some remedy that can be sought although it is very likely going to require consultation with a qualified attorney as there is a fine line between what condominium residents can do inside of their units versus what they can do in common areas. Many association by-laws have rules against any type of potentially dangerous activity being conducted inside of a unit. Letting the unit fill with natural gas would certainly qualify under that definition. However, the penalty for doing so may only be a fine. That isn’t your goal; you want the behavior to stop completely. That may involve evicting the unit owner’s son from the property which will most certainly require the assistance of an attorney. My advice is that you should speak with a qualified association attorney to see what steps you can take as an association to have this resident evicted. Also, you should see if he has broken any laws that have led to the 4 calls to the Fire Department. Most Fire Departments have no interest in continually responding to the same emergency as it puts local citizens as well as firefighter in harm’s way. The Fire Department may be your ally in having this individual arrested or evicted of they have broken any local laws with their behavior. I wish you speedy success in remedying this situation, G.S.. You are very likely saving lives in the process and it may help this individual get the help they apparently need to overcome this destructive behavior. Good luck!