B.F. from Boston, Massachusetts writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I live in a very nice and upscale condo building along the beautiful Boston waterfront. As you can imagine, this highly desirable real estate does not come cheaply. For the past six months, one of the male residents of the building has been putting himself on display by wearing woman’s clothing and spending hours and hours in the condo lobby. I don’t know why he is doing this but his presence is upsetting me and several of my neighbors. Is there anything we can do to get him out of the lobby?
Mister Condo replies:
B.F., Greetings to you, our neighbor in the Bay State! That certainly is a colorful situation you have on your hands! Neighbor versus neighbor issues can be strongly divisive in any condominium. While I can’t say I’ve heard of the same problem here in Connecticut, I can tell you that even one unruly neighbor can disrupt a pleasant living experience for the rest of the well-behaved condo dwellers.
I guess it is best to start at the beginning. I assume you have by-laws and rules about who can use the common areas and for what purposes. A lobby that provides access to and from the units is likely classified as common area and not likely to have any restrictions on its use. However, a case could be made for modifying the use of the lobby strictly for coming and going, and not hanging out for several hours per day. Of course, that would require that the Board take action, adopt an amendment to the by-laws and face the scrutiny of such a decision.
Is the cross-dressing resident approachable? That is, can a simple conversation take place where he is simply informed that his lengthy visits to the lobby are of concern to other residents? Is he exhibiting this behavior as an act of protest against the Association? If so, perhaps a simple dialogue between neighbors could remedy the situation.
The bottom line may be as simple as any unit owner of your condominium having the right to spend as much time as they would like in your lobby. Common Interest community ownership can be tricky. No one resident can be denied rights that are granted to all residents. My guess is that this unit owner is making a point and unless he violates any rules or regulations of the community, there may not be much you or your neighbors can do about it. I am sorry I don’t have better advice for you but I do wish you all the best.