The vast majority of co-op and condo residents are normal folks who wouldn't dream of disrupting life in their building by being verbally abusive to neighbors, blowing up board members' phones and e-mail inboxes with endless complaints and threats, or filing lawsuits at the drop of a hat for every slight (real or perceived) they suffer.
Unfortunately, there are exceptions: people who seem to thrive on conflict—and they can make life miserable for neighbors, board members, and managers alike. Dealing with them is both a challenge and an art form for boards, managers, and neighbors alike.
A Matter of Degree
As property managers know, in the context of a building community, “disruptive” is a broad term that can describe quite a range of hassles. So what constitutes “disruptive” behavior?
“A disruptive resident is someone whose behavior causes a situation in which the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of other residents’ homes is disturbed on such a frequent or regular basis, or to such an extent, that quality of life in the building is negatively impacted,” says Michael Berenson, president of AKAM Associates, Inc., and AKAM On-Site – New York, Inc.
Disruptive residents fall into four general categories. First are what Steven Greenbaum, director of management with Mark Greenberg Real Estate in Lake Success calls the “mundane,” the noisemakers and smelly-food-cookers, the high-heel walkers and the hangers of laundry on the fire escape. “They're the typical noisy neighbor,” he says. “TV blasting, stereo blaring. There’s the ultra-heavy smoker. There’s people with kids running around the halls. There’s the woman with high heels clacking around above your apartment. That’s your mundane stuff.”