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Phillips Esq.
Phillips Esq., Attorney-at-Law
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 12935
Experience:  B.A.; M.B.A.; J.D.
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I have several problems in my building of four condo units.

Resolved Question:

I have several problems in my building of four condo units. I have a new neighbor whose foot traffic and other excessive noises are a source of stress for me, which I have complained about, but the others say that her unit is sufficiently carpeted and that I should expect noise. Secondly, she uses a fire escape on the side of the building (referring to them as "stairs") to access the tandem parking spot in the rear at all hours and also to enter the building. My bedroom window is under the fire escape as is my den, and it is a source of noise, a privacy concern as it looks directly into my apartment, and also a safety concern because I see people I don't recognize going up and down it. The third issue is the tandem parking spot itself. It is supposed to be shared equally, with keys to the cars exchanged, so that whoever is parked on the inside must move the car behind it. I have a manual transmission which she cannot drive, and the board seems to think it is acceptable for me to always park on the inside and be the only one to have to move the cars to get out or to get back in. I wouldn't mind this, but think I should be compensated for the added burden it places on me. The others disagree. We don't currently have rules and regulations for any of these issues and the bylaws are ambiguous. What are my options?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Phillips Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to assist you. Kindly use CONTINUE or REPLY button to ask for clarification or follow-up questions.



I have several problems in my building of four condo units. I have a new neighbor whose foot traffic and other excessive noises are a source of stress for me, which I have complained about, but the others say that her unit is sufficiently carpeted and that I should expect noise. Secondly, she uses a fire escape on the side of the building (referring to them as "stairs") to access the tandem parking spot in the rear at all hours and also to enter the building. My bedroom window is under the fire escape as is my den, and it is a source of noise, a privacy concern as it looks directly into my apartment, and also a safety concern because I see people I don't recognize going up and down it. The third issue is the tandem parking spot itself. It is supposed to be shared equally, with keys to the cars exchanged, so that whoever is parked on the inside must move the car behind it. I have a manual transmission which she cannot drive, and the board seems to think it is acceptable for me to always park on the inside and be the only one to have to move the cars to get out or to get back in. I wouldn't mind this, but think I should be compensated for the added burden it places on me. The others disagree. We don't currently have rules and regulations for any of these issues and the bylaws are ambiguous. What are my options?



Response: Without rules and regulations addressing your issues, you really do not have any viable options. Your neighbor cannot be penalized for doing something that is not a violation of the rules or your bylaws. You cannot be compensated for being the only one required to park on the inside because your car is a shift and none of your neighbors knows how to drive a shift in order to move your car. Your Association's solution for you to park inside is reasonable because the alternative would be for your neighbors to get someone else who is not supposed to touch your car, but who knows how to drive the shift to move your car. This would be quite a burden on your neighbors. Nevertheless, you can get the Association to address your second issue about your neighbor using the fire escape to access the parking lot. Your Association can have a rule that specifically forbids all residents from using the fire escape to access the parking lot unless there is an emergency. That is the only issue that I see that can be addressed by the Association. The first and third issues do not have acceptable solution. Your neighbor cannot be told not be walking around her unit. Noise is expected when you are sharing spaces in a condo unit. The only way one can control the noise going into his/her space is to live in a single-family home.

I am sorry that I do not have better news for you. However, I have ethical and professional obligation to provide you with accurate information eventhough that information is an unpleasant news.

Let me know if you need further clarification,

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Regarding the noise issue, I should clarify that it is more than just the foot traffic of walking around the apartment. It sounds like banging/furniture moving in a way that is excessive, either keeping me up or waking me up from two floors down. The bylaws do have a noise clause, and also a nuisance clause. I understand that there is a certain level of subjectivity to what constitutes "excessive" noise, but I've had two separate sets of occupants above me in the past and never had any of these problems. For me, it has now risen to the level of an annoyance. Doesn't the board have an obligation for abatement if I consider something, noise or otherwise, to be a nuisance? Also notable, when I tried to talk to the neighbor about this, she gave my phone number to a relative who proceeded to send me harassing phone calls and text messages. So I'm seeing a lot of behaviors that are preventing the peaceful enjoyment of my home that is ensured by the bylaws. On the parking thing, it seems to me that if the burden is on me to be the one moving the car both when I leave and when I return, and the other person in the spot never has to do this, that is not what I signed on for when I bought the shared space. The bylaws say that the tandem spot is to be shared equally, and fully obstructed access vs. unobstructed access is not equal. So is it really unreasonable to expect some kind of compensation for the added burden, in the form of a condo fee reduction?

Expert:  Phillips Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Regarding the noise issue, I should clarify that it is more than just the foot traffic of walking around the apartment. It sounds like banging/furniture moving in a way that is excessive, either keeping me up or waking me up from two floors down. The bylaws do have a noise clause, and also a nuisance clause. I understand that there is a certain level of subjectivity to what constitutes "excessive" noise, but I've had two separate sets of occupants above me in the past and never had any of these problems. For me, it has now risen to the level of an annoyance. Doesn't the board have an obligation for abatement if I consider something, noise or otherwise, to be a nuisance?



Response 1: Yes, if the noise is excessive. A notice could be sent to the neighbor to be more considerate of her neighbors and to keep the noise down.



Also notable, when I tried to talk to the neighbor about this, she gave my phone number to a relative who proceeded to send me harassing phone calls and text messages. So I'm seeing a lot of behaviors that are preventing the peaceful enjoyment of my home that is ensured by the bylaws.




Response 2:
Well, that is definitely not acceptable. The Board must send her notice that that kind of harassment and intimidation cannot be allowed. You can also report the “texter” to the Police for harassment. This is quite serious and your neighbor and her relative should be put on notice that you are not going to be intimidated.


On the parking thing, it seems to me that if the burden is on me to be the one moving the car both when I leave and when I return, and the other person in the spot never has to do this, that is not what I signed on for when I bought the shared space. The bylaws say that the tandem spot is to be shared equally, and fully obstructed access vs. unobstructed access is not equal. So is it really unreasonable to expect some kind of compensation for the added burden, in the form of a condo fee reduction?



Response 3
: Thank you for the clarification. No, it is not unreasonable to expect reduction in condo fee. However, in order for this to be done, the bylaws must be amended to address the issue of inequality and the compensation for the affected resident, whether you or future resident.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for the response Regarding the board sending any notice, there are only four of us in the building so we all are the board. We have had two separate meetings about all of these issues now, and the board (the other two unit owners) seems to be taking a hands-off stance, telling me that I should expect noise even though I have stressed how vexing it is to me. So although they could send notice, they will not. On the harassment, I did notify the rest of the building. They still left it up to me to resolve, even advising me not to contact the neighbor or the police so as not to "escalate" the situation. Our management company won't get involved and we don't have a building attorney. So I guess my final question is this: With an unsupportive board, somewhat ambiguous bylaws, and no specific rules and regulations nor enforcement, do I need to hire a lawyer for myself to resolve the issues? This is something I really wanted to avoid, but I don't know what else to do, at this point. Also, if I do, I want to be sure that I have a solid case.

Expert:  Phillips Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for the response Regarding the board sending any notice, there are only four of us in the building so we all are the board. We have had two separate meetings about all of these issues now, and the board (the other two unit owners) seems to be taking a hands-off stance, telling me that I should expect noise even though I have stressed how vexing it is to me. So although they could send notice, they will not. On the harassment, I did notify the rest of the building. They still left it up to me to resolve, even advising me not to contact the neighbor or the police so as not to "escalate" the situation. Our management company won't get involved and we don't have a building attorney. So I guess my final question is this: With an unsupportive board, somewhat ambiguous bylaws, and no specific rules and regulations nor enforcement, do I need to hire a lawyer for myself to resolve the issues? This is something I really wanted to avoid, but I don't know what else to do, at this point. Also, if I do, I want to be sure that I have a solid case.




Response: Regrettably, under the circumstances, you would need to retain a local Attorney that handles condo matters to further assist you. These things cannot be left unresolved. You are entitled to the quiet enjoyment of your unit. You do have a solid case.

You can use the following sites to find local Attorney that handles condo issues:



http://www.lawyers.com

http://www.justia.com

Phillips Esq., Attorney-at-Law
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 12935
Experience: B.A.; M.B.A.; J.D.
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