The foundation of a condominium or cooperative community rests on the ability of residents to cohabitate in a complimentary – or at the very least, peaceful - manner. Everyone in a building is ostensibly concerned with their investment, and it stands to reason that ensuring the well-being of one's neighbors would only help bolster quality of life for all. The reality is however, that certain people have a propensity for unruly behavior. What happens when these loose cannon types start acting out in ways that are detrimental to the community as a whole? Should they be ignored? Placated? Threatened with eviction proceedings? It obviously depends on specific circumstances, but a board's ability to react appropriately as soon as a problem presents itself is crucial to running an association effectively.
The Misguided Advocate
When a neighbor is disruptive, annoying, or otherwise bothersome, it's easy to overreact and decide that they're just downright nasty people who are deliberately making a pest of themselves. While that certainly may be true occasionally, oftentimes a 'problem tenant' may simply be misguided – or even well-intended – and only transgress due how they execute their whims.
“Many buildings have their eccentrics, so to speak; residents who move to the beats of their own drums and don't do anything illegal, necessarily, but will plaster the building with fliers that present libelous or slanderous claims with no basis,” says Stewart E. Wurtzel, am attorney partner with Tane Waterman & Wurtzel, P.C., in Manhattan. “We had one person in a building who didn't like the repairs that the association was undertaking, so he started doing handiwork of his own. He was fixing stairwells and hallways, to the point where we had to take him to court. Police were called in several instances to stop immediate conduct, we sent notices urging him to cease, we went to court to get an injunction to stop him, and he finally agreed. The chase is ongoing regarding legal fees, defaults and those things. But we were obviously concerned with the safety issues; people didn't trust this person.”