Living with a Difficult Neighbor Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

It’s not necessarily to the degree of the Hatfields vs. the McCoys, the famous mountain clan involved in a decades-long blood feud, but living side-by-side in a co-op or a condo can, needless to say, get pretty heated on occasion.

So as an attorney and an apartment dweller, Michelle Freudenberger believes she had seen it all when it comes to living with difficult residents. “I lived next door to twin toddlers whose parents were both attorneys,” says Freudenberger, a principal attorney for the Law Offices of Michelle Freudenberger in Manhattan. “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 when sickened by the flu, she had finally fallen asleep only to be awakened in the wee hours 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!’ ” says Freudenberger.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

While most cooperative and condominiums will, at one time or another, have to deal with situations involving a difficult resident—be it a noisy neighbor, a complaining shareholder, or perhaps a tenant who habitually breaks house rules—Freudenberger and others do not just have to ‘get used to it.’

Steps usually found in the board’s or association’s bylaws can provide guidance to residents, managers and the board to deal with the problem of objectionable tenants and create a more positive atmosphere within the overall building community.

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