Unit owner needs to go. Can we evict?

D.K. writes:

Dear Paul:

Can we evict a difficult resident? This unit owner is constantly sending emails to board members and the property manager. She confronts other unit owners in the hallways and the parking lot and complains about anything and everything. Several owners have asked the board if it could intervene because her behaviour is becoming more aggressive. She has a dog and often lets it run loose in the hallway. This has become a real problem.

Paul replies:

Dear D.K.:

I am sorry to hear about your situation. Having a neighbour that makes it unpleasant for everyone in the community should definitely trigger some action on part of the board. The board is charged to enforce the governing documents (the Act, Declaration, Bylaws, Rules, Policies) and I am sure that somewhere in these documents, most likely the Declaration and the Bylaws is a stipulation that reads: “no unit shall be occupied or used by anyone in such a manner as to interfere with the reasonable and quiet enjoyment of any other unit or the common elements.” The board cannot sit on the sidelines hoping that the problem will vanish.

At least three issues are evident by your message. First, bombarding the board and property manager with emails. While you do not indicate the nature of these emails, I would assume that some are legitimate, and others are frivolous. If the frivolous outnumber the legitimate ones, this has to be brought to the writer’s attention and ask her to stop. I would strongly recommend that you keep copies of all messages and your response. Your request to moderate the email campaign should be in writing. The legitimate items must be handled respectfully in accordance with your governing documents, like you would handle complaints or queries from anyone else.

Secondly, when unit owners are confronted, they have a right to complain that this is interfering with the enjoyment of their condo living. Some may even feel threatened by her behaviour and fear for their safety. This needs to stop. I would encourage your board to document the events and seek legal advice on the steps you need to take to end the behaviour, especially if it is becoming more aggressive. At times, a “cease and desist” letter on a legal firm’s letterhead may be enough to show an offending unit owner that the corporation means business.

Thirdly, the loose dog in the hallway needs to stop. No one can predict what the dog might do when unsupervised and not on a leash. The range of canine behaviours are broad and can range from peeing or defecating in the hallway, barking, or even attacking other unit owners or their visitors. If the board does nothing, it could result in liability issues.

Do not let any of these actions on the part of one insensitive owner escalate. Seek legal advice as soon as you believe it is out of control. Naturally, after all the warnings, fines, and letters from counsel, the remedy of last resort will be to seek a court order forcing the owner to sell. Good luck!

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