How to Get Heard A Guide for Unit Owners with Complaints

As a condo owner, you’ve got a gripe. Whether it’s about Mrs. Smith’s poodle barking all day, the neighbor’s teenaged son, who blasts his heavy metal music full-volume when his parents aren’t home, or a long-coveted parking space that hasn’t materialized after years of waiting, you want someone to listen—and of course, do something about your complaint.

While a seemingly unresponsive (or stone-deaf) manager or board can be profoundly frustrating, it's worthwhile to consider the approach you're taking to state your case or present your problem. Are you using the proper channels? Are you stating the issue clearly? Do you understand the rules and limitations of your own association and board? The answers to these questions have a lot to do with how soon and how satisfactorily your problem gets resolved.

Chain of Command

In most buildings, how you complain really depends on what your complaint is all about; there are different approaches for complaints related to maintenance and complaints related to neighbors. If it’s a noise issue, such as the above-mentioned barking poodle, speaking directly to the neighbor to see if you can work it out amicably should be the first step.

If the issue is a perpetually-flickering hallway light or some other everyday maintenance-related issue, most professionals agree that those complaints can be made first to the doorman or superintendent.

If no improvement is made, or no action is taken within a few days, it's then appropriate to go up the chain to the property manager—usually via a simple phone call. According to Tony Nardone, president of Dovan Management Group in Bloomfield, “If an initial request from a unit owner goes unanswered or unaddressed, they should put their request in writing. I’ve found that when unit owners reduce their requests to writing and are very specific about a situation, they will get a quicker response.”

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