R.P. from New York writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Hello! I am living in a condo that was owned by my grandmother before she passed away. The condo is now owned by a trust run by my father who has allowed me to stay living in the condo. One of the board members who lives in the unit below mine has repeatedly been a problem, even when my grandmother was alive. She harassed her, and now is starting to do the same toward me and my family. The attorney which represents the condo sent a letter regarding a law passed 7 years ago which only allows owner-occupied units. Otherwise, a security deposit must be sent to the attorney that would be kept in an interest-bearing account. I have lived in the condo with my grandmother long before the new amendment. Is there some kind of legal recourse which grandfathers me in? Is there some kind of collusion amongst the board member and the attorney I can bring up? Eventually, my father will be selling me the condo once family affairs are finalized. In the interim, what kind of recourse do I have so that I can live peacefully?
Mister Condo replies:
R.P., I am sorry for the loss of your grandmother and that you are finding yourself at odds with the condo Board where you live. As you may know, I am not an attorney so any advice I offer you here is strictly friendly and not to be taken as legal advice. For legal advice, you should turn to an attorney who can best guide you on your legal rights and steps you can take to correct any legal actions brought against you by the Board.
Let’s start with the harassment issues. Since your grandmother has passed, there is little but resentment for those who harassed her that you can hold on to. However, if a Board Member is currently harassing you, you have the right to take action against that Board member. Consult with an attorney and don’t hesitate to press charges. Other than governing the community as a whole, Board Members do not need to interact with other unit owners in a harassing manner. It is illegal and you have rights which an attorney will help you to protect.
I am not familiar with the law about the security deposit for non-owner-occupied units but you may be subject to it. Once again, consult with your attorney to determine if it applies to you. If it is truly just a security deposit that will earn interest, it doesn’t sound like you will be harmed by providing it and taking it back after you purchase your unit from the trust. It might be less expensive to offer the deposit than to fight it in court so ask your attorney and then take the correct actions.
I hope this clears up the issues for you, R.P.. I wish you peaceful condo living and a speedy resolution to these issues. All the best!