Homeowner Hassles Handling and Helping Disruptive Residents

Everyone would love to believe their HOA or condo building is a miniature utopia where everyone gets along and disagreements are well-nigh unheard of. Of course, if you have ever actually lived in a condo or HOA, you know that’s definitely wishful thinking.

While the vast majority of condo and HOA residents are perfectly pleasant folks who wouldn't dream of disrupting life in their building community, in any given population there will inevitably be that individual (or two) who make a hobby of verbally abusing their neighbors, harassing board members with calls and emails, and threatening lawsuits at the drop of a hat. These unit owners seem to thrive on disruption and drama, and their behavior can make life miserable for neighbors, board members, and managers alike.

Everybody Pays

While 'difficult' residents are, well, difficult, the cost of their antics goes beyond just annoying their neighbors or making board members groan every time their name pops up in an email inbox. Jennifer A. Loheac, an attorney and shareholder with the Morristown-based law firm Becker & Poliakoff says dysfunction in communities can have vast negative implications in many areas, affecting everything from board governance to the ability of residents to live together in harmony—and that, sadly, can impact value.

“In every community, there will always be certain personalities that cause problems, who tend to bully or threaten others, or fail to respect boundaries and become a nuisance,” she says. “I truly believe that managing problematic individuals effectively depends in large part on the overall competency of the community governance.”

There are individuals who are a nuisance and others who border on dangerous, and this is an important distinction—though one that may not always be clear from the start. According to Loheac, disruptive residents can range from the minority board member who attempts to incite a mutiny every time he or she disagrees with a board decision to people who stubbornly refuse to follow any of the community's rules.

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