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Handling Disruptive Residents

By Jennifer L. Alexander, Esq. February 5, 2014 Posted in Community Association Law

Landlords and home owner associations are often required to deal with unruly or problematic residents. Knowing how to deal with such residents can be helpful when it comes to maintaining the peace within the community and avoiding as many lawsuits as possible. Without a doubt, problem residents can be a headache for the other residents, building managers and board members, and although dealing with such people can be challenging, there are ways to do so fairly and effectively.

The Occasional Irritant vs. a Disruptive Neighbor

One of the main things that a landlord and/or home owner association should bear in mind is that there will always be those individuals who have occasional outbursts or break a rule or two every now and then. Incidents with those types of residents are typically easier to deal with after having a conversation with them to understand what might be going on within their own lives. However, a disruptive neighbor can be defined as an individual who frequently disrupts the peaceful enjoyment of the other residents' homes. Simply stated, the frequency of the problematic incidents is what sets disruptive neighbors apart from occasional irritators.

So, what is considered "disruptive?" Issues with noise are probably some of the most problematic in multifamily dwellings because people live directly next to and/or on top of each other. Additionally, pet problems and cooking smells are often issues for residents that can be quite irritating.

Dealing With the Residents

Landlords and associations should be well-prepared to deal with residents who cause problems for their neighbors. To be sure, there will be residents who will constantly call and come to the office to file complaints about their neighbors. Additionally, they will make certain that their grievances are heard during home owner association meetings, and they might become problematic themselves for a short time. Dealing with such residents can be exhausting, but at some point, their concerns will need to be adequately addressed.

There are also those residents who make verbal and/or physical threats and cause intentional damage in order to get their points across--landlords and home owner associations must take quick and stern actions to deal with those types of residents.

Whether it's an occasional nuisance or a seriously problematic resident, associations and landlords need to have a strategy to deal with such issues as effectively as possible. For instance, there should be clear-cut rules in place to which residents should adhere. A good and effective set of rules will note various types of violative conduct and discuss the appropriate actions to be taken against violators, such as written warning, fines and litigation, if necessary.

Associations and landlords should ensure that they approach residential problems as soon as possible and try not to let the issues fester. Managers and boards are in better positions to work towards resolutions to the problems than courts. That said, maintaining a professional attitude and a bit of patience will go a long way toward helping disruptive residents calm down and keeping the overall peace in the community.

If you are a landlord or board member who has questions about dealing with problematic residents in your community, contact an attorney at Griffin Alexander, P.C. right away.

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