The vast majority of condo and HOA residents are regular folks who wouldn't dream of disrupting life in their community by harassing their neighbors, bombarding their board and manager with endless complaints and threats, or filing lawsuits at the drop of a hat for every little thing. That being said, the unfortunate truth is that there are people who seem to thrive on doing these very things; maybe one of them even lives next door to you.
The bad behavior of chronically disruptive or objectionable residents can make life difficult for association managers, board members and neighbors alike. It's not okay—and dealing with it is both a challenge and something of an art form.
The Usual Suspects
Occasional nuisances are just part and parcel of communal living—anybody can have a flare of temper or break a rule once or twice. In those cases, stress, ignorance, or some other mitigating factor may be in play, but there are situations that cross the line into something more serious. A truly disruptive resident is someone whose behavior disturbs the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of other residents’ homes frequently enough, or to such an extent that quality of life in the community is negatively impacted.
It's this frequency of transgression that sets the truly disruptive resident apart. “While there is no set definition as to what a disruptive resident is, it often involves the type of behavior that affects multiple people or persists over a long period of time,” says attorney Stewart Wurtzel of the Manhattan-based law firm of Tane Waterman & Wurtzel, P.C.
While it may not feel like it if you're sharing a common wall with a disruptive neighbor, most pros agree that the lion’s share of disruptive residents are actually pretty mundane; noise being by far the most common resident complaint in multifamily buildings and associations where people are literally on top of one another or living side-by-side. Cooking odors and pets come in a close second and third.