As an attorney and an apartment dweller, Michelle Freudenberger had seen it all and more when it comes to living with difficult residents.
“I lived next door to twin toddlers whose parents were both attorneys,” says Michelle, who in addition to being a real estate attorney is also a member of the national Association of Real Estate Women. “They took turns sleeping late and brought the kids to the kitchen early. Every morning, one child screeched at the crack of dawn.”
Wanting to keep peace, and understanding parenting challenges, she didn’t complain to the neighbors until one morning that was the last straw. She had been suffering with a bout of the flu and finally fell asleep around 4 a.m., only to be awoken once again by a screaming child. “I was banging on the walls out of desperation, but the father screamed back ‘get used to living in an apartment!’” she says.
Can't We All Just Get Along?
The reality is that while most co-op and condo buildings or HOAs will from time to time deal with this situation: either a noisy neighbor, a chronic complainer, or someone who habitually breaks house rules—Michelle and her other neighbors do not have to just ‘get used to it.’ Steps are typically outlined in the bylaws that residents, management and the board can take to effectively solve problems regarding objectionable tenants and turn a negative into a positive atmosphere.
Easier Said Than Done
It’s human nature to complain but the top complaints from people living in close quarters at a co-op or a condo most often include noise, smoking and cooking smells, leaving belongings in shared hallways and vestibules, stealing laundry, and leaving exterior doors unlocked or ajar. Leaving a bike or a pile of toys outside your neighbor's door is a pretty clear-cut violation of their personal space, but because the concepts of 'noise' and 'disruption' are so subjective, dealing with them is somewhat trickier.