K.G. from Chicago, IL writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
My condo building has 8 units. There is a unit owner (and revolving door of people that live there) lacking common decency who continues to violate established condo rules. We are self-managed, and the president has spoken to this person multiple times. My main concern is safety, and the unit’s residents continually put the building’s security and its residents at risk. After a number of packages were stolen by someone with keys to the building we installed security cameras, but safety concerns remain. A sampling:
1. Multiple times per day, they do not close the entry door to the building.
2. At least 4 times a week they do not close the gate to the building.
3. Unit continued to place garbage in the recycling bin. Recycling company fined us and would not pick up the recycling for weeks.
4. Unit parked a moving truck in the middle of the parking lot so that no residents could move their car. It took 40 minutes to wake someone up to move it today.
5. Unit owner guests (average 2-4x a week) park in other unit’s deeded spots.
6. Unit did not receive Board approval prior to remodeling. Remodeling took 8 months (5 months past scheduled completion). Unit left the remodeling garbage piled on their deck for months to the point where the neighbors reported the building to the city. Unit did not install doors that meet the uniformity rules clearly stated in the condo rules.
7. Unit, multiple times, had “garage sales” and afterwards, anything that didn’t sell they stacked in the common area and left for weeks despite the board asking them to remove it.
8. During the remodel process, the stove / hood that existed before they moved in (and no problems reported), was vented into the building. Every time they used the hood, the smoke would go into other units. They were asked to stop multiple times.
9. Routinely late / missing HOA assessments.
10. Left the water running causing an inch of standing water that seeped down into the unit below.
This unit’s residents are nuisances to an otherwise polite and respectful building. How can we get them to follow the rules, particularly the ones that impact another person’s safety?
Mister Condo replies:
K.G., I am sorry for the multitude of problems this single unit owner has caused your small association. I dare say that from what you have told me, most of what can be done has already been done. That is to say, rules were broken, the unit owner was notified, the unit owner acted (or didn’t), and life went on. The idea that unit owners will voluntarily follow the association rules is inherent in the agreement to live in any community association. However, the willingness to enforce those rules lies entirely with the association. In your small self-managed association that mean you or your fellow homeowners have to give up your own time to pursue remedies against this recalcitrant unit owner. That is one reason many associations hire a management company to deal with the unpleasantness of enforcing the rules. There are remedies up to an including eviction but these are costly, and both time and money consuming on the part of the association. From a practical standpoint, you take whatever actions you can and hope for the best. I applaud your Board President for attempting a simple conversation to correct the behaviors. If the owner’s and guests’ behavior continue, the association should consult with a community association attorney to see what else can be done. At that point, it will be an exercise in seeing how much the association is willing to spend to make life difficult for this unit owner. It is a battle of intestinal fortitude. As one attorney friend of mine said, in prehistoric times we used to beat each other with clubs. Now we beat each other with lawsuits. If the association is willing to spend the time and effort to go after this unit owner, it may win. Of course, it will cost both time and money. All the best!