Disputes with your neighbour

If your neighbour is giving you grief by violating the condo's declaration, by-laws or rules, report the issues to the property manager.

Common problems included:
• excessive noise or dog barking.
• 2nd-hand smoke entering your unit.
• water leaks entering your unit.
• cigarette butts falling onto your balcony.
• smoking in the staircases.
• someone parking in your parking spot.
• leaving their garbage on the floor of the garbage room.
• dog droppings in the common elements.
• banging weights in the Fitness Room.
• selling drugs out of their unit.

Five W's
The manager will need records of:
• Who is causing the problems (or the unit #)
• What is the issue (in detail).
• Where is this happening
• When: day of the week, date, time.
• Why is it happening; if you know. (don't guess)

"Just the facts, ma'am"

TV Detective Sergeant Joseph "Joe" Friday

Keep excellent records of dates, times and outcomes of every single interaction, letter and phone call you make or that someone else makes towards you. It's not just about the incident(s) themselves, it's how people have been informed of the incident or treated the incident.

Keep it short and to the point and be non-judgmental.

A property manager told me that she used to get three-page accusatory letters and the board usually ignored them if they were full of vague accusations and statements denouncing someone's ethics and speculation about their motives.

Confronting your neighbour
It might work if you know them by sight and the issue is something pretty simple like too much noise. If you decide to knock on their door, stay pleasant and polite. If the conversation starts to go bad, quickly break it off before it leads to more trouble.

Make all future complaints to security or the manager.

If you can't talk to the neighbours—if you are on hostile terms—try to avoid them. Less chance of unpleasantness.

Board of directors
If the manager does not get back to you within a week or so, or tells you that it is a problem between neighbours so he/she will not get involved, then send a letter to the board of directors listing your complaints.

Problems persist
If the problems persist, inform the manager that the problems have not been resolved and include information of all new incidents.

When complaining about a neighbour, you cannot expect to remain autonomous. If the neighbour refuses to stop their deviant behaviour you may be required to sign an affidavit that lists your complaints.

If you refuse to "get involved" then there may be little the manager or board can do for you.

Be polite and business-like when speaking to the manager and/or directors and in all written communications. No pouting, swearing, yelling, long winded rants or threats.

Don't visit the office repeating the same complaints or send numerous e-mails repeating the the same thing as the manager may claim that you are harassing her at her workplace.

Never, and I mean never, threaten to sue the manager or the board. That will just alert them that you may become a troublemaker and they will stop talking to you.

Why boards may not involved
The board may not realize that they have a legal duty to get involved when an owner complains, even if it just one owner who has the problem.

They may think your complaint is not important or they don't want to take on the expense and hassle.

It may be personal. Perhaps they don't like you or you are complaining about someone who has friends on the board. Could be they are hoping you will sell and get out.

Perhaps you will never know why.

Get a legal opinion
If the problems continue and you have reasons to believe that the board is not taking your complaints seriously, then I suggest that you have an initial consultation with a lawyer who is experienced in condominium law to see what your options are.

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