Dealing With Objectionable Residents Object Lesson

The everyday problems in homeowners associations are usually pretty cut-and-dried. Most of the time, disputes between neighbors, or between residents and the board, can be filed under a few headings. Noise, whether issued from refrigerator-sized subwoofers or pint-sized dogs, is a favorite complaint in high-rise and mid-rise buildings, while in suburban homeowners associations, property-line disputes sometimes approach the rancor of the Thirty Years War.

Sometimes, however, the problem is more serious—like a dangerous or unstable resident, a unit owner who constantly antagonizes his neighbors, or a tenant conducting illicit activities on the premises. Fortunately, such cases are rare. If you find yourself in such an unfortunate position, here are seven things you need to know:

There is a line between being eccentric and being disruptive.

We've all had oddball neighbors. Maybe they wear way too much aftershave. Maybe their apartments reek of strange food. Maybe they watch bad TV shows with the volume turned too loud. Maybe they're just not very nice. There's not much you can do about the oddballs. But you can take action against anyone who is a threat to the health and safety of your building.

"That would be somebody who interferes with the building operations," says J. David Ramsey, an attorney and partner at Ramsey Berman PC, a community association law firm in Wall. "Somebody who acts out at board meetings, who interferes with work being done, who keeps lodging frivolous complaints that waste time and money."

It's exceedingly difficult to remove owners, especially in condos, from their units—but it can be done.

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