Neighbours from hell
“You may talk of the tyranny of Nero and Tiberius; but the real tyranny is the tyranny of your next-door neighbor.”
—Walter Bagehot

If you have a neighbour who's behavior is making your life miserable, then one of three things has got to happen:
  1. Your neighbour has to change his behaviour.
  2. You have to become more tolerant.
  3. One of you has got to move.

There are several ways a neighbour can make your life miserable. They include:

Noise can be caused by loud music, the TV being too loud, a dog constantly barking, the owners yelling at each other, home renovations at all hours, drunken outbursts, loud parties, the list goes on and on.

One woman living in an 8th floor condo had a dance studio operating in the upstairs unit. She had to take her board to court to get satisfaction.

Sometimes faulty construction or faulty building codes can be at fault. Some condos, especially the newer buildings, have minimal sound proofing between the units. You can hear the man next door urinate in the toilet and the woman talking in a normal voice on her cellphone.

Domestic fights
The man and the woman next door may yell and scream at each other. Sometimes daily and sometimes only when they get drunk.

Some parents constantly yell at their kids, or worse. A security guard at our condo phoned Children's Aid to report suspected abuse and neglect by two different mothers.
Cigarette or marijuana fumes
Bad neighbours may smoke cigarettes or marijuana in the staircases and that is annoying. When they relieve themselves like someone is at this "luxury" condo that sits at the end of the subway line, well, that is plain disgusting.

Will a sign stop the behaviour? Maybe, but if the person lives there, it is just as likely the disgusting neighbour will just move to the other stairwell.

It is tough catching someone in the act of urinating in the common elements as they will hear the staircase door open.

When residents smoke in their units and the fumes come through into your unit, then you are exposed to second-hand smoke.

Your neighbours dogs may poop on the hallway carpets and urinate in the elevators. A few owners may think that it is far easier for them to let their dogs go out on the balcony or in the staircases than take them out for a walk, especially during the winter months or when it rains.

The dogs may bark, day and night, whenever anyone in the hallway walks by their units.

The drunks may vomit in the parking garage or the lobby and kids may play in the hallways, vandalize the property and urinate in the staircases.

Strange behaviours
On couple came home to find that their kitchen ceiling had collapsed. They had broken drywall, dirty water, kitchen waste, animal urine and feces and cat litter smeared all over their kitchen.

As the superintendent and plumbers checked the units above, they found the unit where the owner was dumping her cat's dirty litter down the kitchen drain rather than double bagging it and dropping it down the garbage chute.

Mental illness and condos
Condominiums are not equipped to deal with residents who have serious mental illnesses. Many of these people are not capable of living unsupervised and are a danger to themselves and to others.

Three common issues
I have talked with directors at different Toronto condos and there are more residents who have serious mental health issues living in condos than I realized. One president told me that they have ten units that have residents who have serious mental health problems.

Type One
They seem paranoid and mainly stay to themselves. You hardly ever see them but they are often hoarders and their units are filthy and are fire hazards.

Type Two
They will run naked through the hallways and the lobby screaming.

Type Three
They are dangerous. They may yell, swear, threaten and spit on you. They also may damage the common elements and their own units. Personal injury and property damage from physical violence, fire and water damage is a constant concern.

The Garbage Guy
Perhaps you have a neighbour who is obviously mentally ill like the "Garbage Guy" who was first first reported in The Toronto Star in August 2013. He likes filling shopping carts that he steals from the local grocery store and fills them with garbage that he collects from his neighbours' garbage cans and abandons then on his neighbours' driveways and around the neighbourhood.

The second Toronto Star story gave more details. Residents around him say he gets even with people who confront him by smearing feces on their cars and garage doors, and even the edges of trash dumpster lids that have been locked to keep him out.

And then there’s the stockpile behind his home of plastic water and pop bottles filled with urine, which extends into the hydro corridor that backs onto his townhouse condo.

How long would you be willing to put up with Garbage Man?

Who's responsibly is this?

It is up to the property manager and the board to deal with outrageous residents. Some do an excellent job and nip these problems in the bud while other ignore almost everything.

They have all the power they need to take quick and decisive action as long as they have the will power to do so.

Don’t get into unnecessary arguments with any of your neighbours. If there are problems inform the building manager. The first time verbally but if there are any repeat issues, put your complaints in writing.

Is there a loud party next door? Don’t knock on your neighbour’s door late at night to complain about the noise. They may be drunk or high and you could end up with a broken nose, or far worse.

Phone the security guard instead and have him deal with it. You should follow this up with an e-mail or a fax to the property manager. Give all the details of the incident as follows:
Who: The apartment number and if possible the names of the ones making the disturbance. If you can, state if it was the residents or their guests. List the names of anyone else you know who was also bothered by the noise. Give the name of the security guard that you telephoned.
What: Describe the noise or disturbance. Record the audio noise problem on your smart phone.
Where: The apartment number or if in the common elements, state as exactly as possible the location where the disturbance took place.
When: The date and time the disturbance started and when it ended.
Why: Was it someone’s birthday or a public holiday? If you know the reason, write it down.

Keep a copy of the e-mail and fax for your records.

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