neighboor using his condo as a hotel

badman70January 31, 2010


I live in a townhome (actually row home) that is condo owned. The guy that owns the unit next to mine is using it as a hotel of sorts.

Near as I can figure, the owner has some kind of IT company and sends all his clients to shack up in the unit. Their may be 4 Indians living in this 2 bedroom unit at a time. Some of them sleep on kid like mattresses in the living room. They don't take care of the place, garbage blowing around the neighborhood. Cigarette butts everywhere and the noise, my god the noise. All night long, they don't sleep. They all seem to be in their 20's going to their IT school. I can complain, but they leave and someone else takes their place the next month. I have seen maybe 30 Indians moving in and out over the last 6 months.

Now, all of this is against the association rules and laws. I have contacted the association, who has sent warning letters for violations of noise, using the unit for transitory purposes and trash and parking violations. One time they had 4-5 cars that would take up the visitor spaces.

The owner says only his nephew is living there which is not true. The association is seeking permission from the board to fine the owner, but this is taking too long.

I have talked with the village, who investigated the outside of the home, and all they say it definitely looks like there is a problem, but they won't do anything for fear of being sued.

I've talked with the police dept. and so far they tell me even if I called them because of a stereo blasting in the middle of the night, if they don't open the door, they can't do anything. They won't break down the door unless someone inside calls for help. And they won't open the door.

There have been complaints from 4 other units, but only 2 of us have problems with noise since we live on either side.

After so many fines, the board has the option to take legal action, but I don't know if they would be willing to do this. Do people win cases like this? Is there anything else I can do? Has anyone heard of a solution for this? It seems the owner can keep saying they are family or something and what can we do then?

Talking to the people does little good, since they don't care and will be gone in a month only to be replaced.

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You know, I'd maybe be sympathetic, but as you are obviously as bothered by the nationality (or race?) of the people as what they do, I really couldn't care less about your problems.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2010 at 5:26AM
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I have talked with the village, who investigated the outside of the home, and all they say it definitely looks like there is a problem, but they won't do anything for fear of being sued.

Yeah, not sure what nationality has to do with it. Regardless, there are zoning ordinances in place to maintain structure & boundaries with regard to use of buildings or land in any given municipality. Doesn't matter if they're little green peeps from Mars. Your village elected officials are dropping the ball here.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2010 at 8:26AM
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Wait a minute, perhaps I wasn't that clear so you guys misunderstood.


We have all races living in the community and I really don't care what the color of someone's skin is.

But the reason it was mentioned is that this is not some guy renting to just anyone. This is part of some organization that as I am finding out is not uncommon. I mentioned the race because it is nothing more than a clue to what might be happening. So I'm hoping to find someone else who has the same problem and might know more about whats going on. There is more here than meets the eye, and according to the property manager, the owner knows how to work the system. Other people have heard of this happening before. Thats all.

I don't see a way to edit my original post so that others don't jump to the wrong conclusion.

Anyway, lets just say i agree, it doesn't matter who they are. The village says that they won't investigate what's going on inside for fear of being sued. Their must be evidence that something illegal is going on inside. I don't see evidence of that yet.

So far, it seems that if you know what your doing, you can do whatever you want.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2010 at 6:17PM
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I see your point, cool that you've cleared it up. ;)

I wonder tho, why your village people (no pun intended ;) are afraid of a lawsuit? I mean, imho it doesn't matter where these folks are from or what color their skin is, a zoning ordinance applies to everyone. In my town when there is a potential change to a property (say adding a garage), neighbors are sent certified letters, notified of date/time of next town meeting that will include the new garage on agenda, and anyone wishing to voice disagreement or concerns can take that opportunity to do so. My town is not even strict. My parent's town, which wants to keep their upscale reputation (their words, not mine), looks for things to crack down on.

Anyway, point of origin to resolve this would be the owner. But he's not telling the truth according to your first post, if he says it's only his nephew living there. Imagine the guy is raking in pretty big bucks by leasing to a corporation somewhere who is paying rent per employee. So the next step would be to move on up the ladder. Which would either be law enforcement (public nuisance type issues) and/or village officials.

Honestly, based on my experience, your village board is taking a very bassackwards approach. Almost timid compared to my experiences. Our rentals are located in two towns (mine and another nearby). I have to both put it in the lease & watch tenants to make sure they don't break code by letting weeds/lawn get high, throw trash around, etc. I have had the town code enforcer from each town on my back on two separate occasions because of tenant antics. It's not fun, those guys are relentless and want results, no ifs, ands or buts. They won't fine me as owner until it reaches xx number of violations issued (think it's 3, but I'd have to look up the code). Meantime they will fine tenants ($50 per violation, once per week till resolved and the property is put on a "watch" list. I don't ever want any property to reach that point, they are clean & tidy and I expect them to stay that way.) The two occasions I had to deal with them: tenant A in town A let weeds get over 12" tall along the driveway. I had been out of town for an extended period or I would have stopped that. Neighbor reported it. I happened to be there talking to tenant outside the day code enforcer came by. Gruff and abrupt, he wanted results now (despite the bottle of Roundup in my hands). Tenant B in town B had an unlicensed truck in the driveway with a flat tire. I noticed it right away, but gave him a few weeks to deal with it. He didn't. So I sent him a certified letter. He said it was ok because he "knew all the cops in town". Too bad, I didn't want it there. Sure enough, code enforcer showed up (someone called). That guy took 2 $50 fines out of stubborness I suppose before he finally acted. Following spring I didn't renew him, that and other issues totaled too much grief for me.

I have heard of people obtaining attorneys to challenge towns. Perhaps that might be an option? I just don't get why they are not taking action...

    Bookmark   February 1, 2010 at 7:53PM
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Yeah, I dont know why the village wonÂt help. They just took some pictures and said you guys got a problem, but itÂs the association that should handle it. They donÂt see anything that would enable them to enforce village codes. I donÂt get it, we donÂt know whatÂs going on inside this unit and nobody can get inside to find out.

I talked to the police who said even if I called them in the middle of the night because of a blasting stereo, that they canÂt do anything unless the occupants open the door. And I already know they donÂt open the door for anyone. The police canÂt break down the door unless someone on the inside is calling for help. The next step is to call the landline for the home which of course wonÂt be connected.

And the association wonÂt fine because of the legal costs that could happen I guess. They just continue to send warning letters. We are pilling up the warning letters and the association hopes we stop complaining I guess. If they fine, the occupants could request a hearing and the community would have to absorb legal costs. Even if they did fine the owner, I wouldnÂt know about it because it is confidential information. The rules and by-laws state that the board can fine after 3 violations, and I think we are passed that point.

IÂll try to contact the village again to see what I can do. The latest thing is they opened a window of the master bedroom and pushed the screen so it came detached from the window and fell to the ground. I guess they are throwing cigarette butts out the window now but canÂt see, as they would fall on the roof of the porch. Just another warning letter for this.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2010 at 6:23PM
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One thing you can definitely do is stop by the town hall and pick up a copy of town codes to familiarize yourself. I've done that before, no charge, it's public info. (I've only gotten what I need as it pertains to private residences for rental situations - not entire copy of all codes).
Things are spelled out quite specifically in what I have, right down to maximum allowable height for grass, how far back from street, sidewalks and property line shrubbery is to be planted so as not to obstruct view of sidewalk/street, where parking is permitted and not, etc.

Throwing butts on the porch roof, huh. Nice way to start a fire if there is any debris in gutters.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2010 at 10:32PM
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Still isn't there a noise pollution law? The police has to enforce that. Unless they have to drive onto a property. Like my partners job, the police couldn't do a lot of things because it's considered "private property" and unless it's an emergency medical, or a crime has been committed their hands are tied for a lot of things. Problems that the Managers have to deal with, but if they get 3 notices in a year they ignore they can be evicted, even if they own their own homes, just rent the lot. On top of that they have to pay rent on the property until they sell it, so most of the time they listen.

She is fair, but firm, and she gets the tenants to follow the rules, and make them feel happy to do so. They know she has to enforce the rules and it is the owner they grumble about. It's 55 and over park, we don't have to deal with noisy kids, but older folks have too much time on their hands and they feel everything is an emergency lol.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2010 at 10:01PM
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Well, I think you are on the right track. The next step is to get the board to fine the owner. You will need to keep on top of this.

I'd be calling the people on the board and/or association when the noise gets really loud. Try to have them come over to your unit while the noise is still going on. That might convince them that you have a genuine grievance here.

I'd also be a polite pest to the members of the board and association. Call weekly to find out what is going on and what has been decided. I'm not surprised that it's taking a long time--this is something the board has to consider carefully and most likely consult a lawyer about, in order to get things done correctly.

They may also be hoping that you will just get used to things and stop complaining. That's the outcome I'm sure the board is wishing for. That's why you need to keep politely nudging them. Make sure that they know the situation is not getting any better.

You might even stop trying to get something done about the number of people living there. Concentrate on the noise, the trash, the extra number of cars. These are very concrete things that probably have consequences spelled out in the bylaws. Just like they got Al Capone for taxes, the board may have better luck addressing those issues that are apparent from outside the unit.

And do get the town bylaws/noise ordinances, etc. Call the police every time there's an infraction. True, they can't do anything about the noise if the residents won't open the door. But they do have to keep a record of all their visits. A list of those visits may come in useful in the future, when the board is trying to make a decision about the owner. The fact that there have been 10 or 20 police visits to a unit speaks volumes.

You know, for every horror story about HOAs that fine people for having their grass half an inch too long, you get an equal and opposite horror story where serious problems don't get addressed and the good residents move out because their living situation has become intolerable.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2010 at 3:04PM
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thanks for the responses

Yeah, I've been told to call the police next time there is noise. There are 6 people in the 2 bedroom unit this month.

I call the association manager weekly, I ask if any fines have been sent, but am told that is confidential. I do think the board is hoping we just learn to live with it. If the owner pays the bills, the by-laws, rules and regulations really don't apply i guess.

I have asked other neighbors near by to help. So far, 3 separate units have filed formal complaints, the kind where you agree to go to trial if necessary. I have 3 other units that said they would be willing to do the same, but have not yet. All the units in the area see whats going on around this unit. We are well passed the number of warnings to start fining.

The noise is by biggest complaint, but the garbage blowing around, cigarette butts in the landscaping, garbage can lying on it side in the driveway, screen detached from the window and stored on the porch. All this because it is a hotel.

Strange thing is the builder of these homes still serves as the board of directors, and they are still building here. The lady who is now selling the homes actually doesn't care that this is going on. She was surprised I was telling her about it. And she said flat out, "I won't go out of my way to talk to the association about what I see, I just sell homes here. There is nothing I can do".

This has been going on since last April.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 9:10AM
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Just out of curiosity, have you checked online tax records to see who the owner is? It's almost beginning to sound like the owner has some kind of affiliation with the assn or something (whether personally or professionally, friendship, business venture, something...) Just seems like there is a lot of looking away going on here, and I'm just wondering if there is a reason why?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 8:03PM
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There's always the possibllity that the board is fining the owner and the owner is either ignoring the fines or paying them and not caring about the extra cost. If may be less expensive for the owner to pay the fines than to put the people up in a hotel. And if he doesn't pay the fine, it's possible that the only thing the board can do is attach a lien on his unit. Which won't affect him until he tries to sell.

I know it is taking a long time, but these things do. The board is probably consulting with a lawyer and needs to give the owner adequate time to respond. I was in a sort of similar situation once and the landlord did keep us informed, but it took five months to get a resolution and another two months for the person to move out and solve the problem completely.

The only other thing I can think of, in addition to what Moonshadow has suggested, is checking the town noise ordinance. I find it odd that there is absolutely nothing the police can do if no one opens the door. That would mean that there is a town ordinance that can't be enforced, because who would be stupid enough to open their door? I suspect that there is a series of steps that would need to be followed, such as first a verbal warning, then a written warning, then a fine or ticket or somesuch. There might be a way for the police to skip the first step if they continue to keep the door closed.

Also, if you are a resident of the town, somewhere you have an elected representative, a selectman or member of the town council or something. It sounds as if it is time to start talking to that person about what can be done to prevent the noise (I doubt the town will care about the trash and the garbage can, but if they have a noise ordinance, they will have to explain why they aren't enforcing it).

And a very, very, very last option would be for you and the other homeowners to sue the association and the board for failing to maintain the development properly. But that would cost a lot of money and really shouldn't be considered until every possible alternative has been explored.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2010 at 10:03AM
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"I mentioned the race because it is nothing more than a clue to what might be happening."

For those of us who missed the "clue" can you explain?

"Some of them sleep on kid like mattresses in the living room."

"I dont get it, we dont know whats going on inside this unit and nobody can get inside to find out."

How do you know about the kid's mattresses if no one can get inside?

I am surprised that the neither condo association nor your village is helping you with "these Indians". Maybe you used the wrong approach from the beginning and should try a different tactic if there truly is a neighborhood nuisance.

"Their must be evidence that something illegal is going on inside. I don't see evidence of that yet."

Yet? It sounds like you had already made up your mind about these people the day they moved in. Yup. There just must be something illegal going on inside. You just haven't discovered it yet. Sure thing. Only a matter of time before they are discovered.

Try a different approach when addressing the situation to the police, condo board and city hall. No accusations of illegal activity unless you actually see it. Calling them about 'suspicious Indians' won't bring much action from the authorities and you may have already severed any good relations with your new neighbors.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2010 at 4:04PM
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"It sounds like you had already made up your mind about these people the day they moved in."

You completely missed the entire point. And you are far worse than you accuse me of when it comes to making generalizations. As you made your mind up about me already.
Therefore I won't wast any time with you.

Anyway, I spoke to an inspector with the village. I did speak to one of the occupants walking outside the unit, and asked how many people are in the unit. Apparently they have 4 times the number of people as bedrooms, which is not only against condo rules, it is a violation of village codes. So
I spoke to the village again to inquire about enforcing these codes.

His reply was a story about how a near by village tried to enforce occupancy codes 20 years ago. The result was a fine by the federal government saying the codes were against minorities. And finished by telling me that although there are rules, they are impossible and expensive to tackle. My best bet is the association. I infer from this that he will be no help.

As far as the association goes. They can't tell me if they fine the owner due to confidentiality. But they did tell me they took the next step a couple of weeks ago. The next step after many warning letters is only fines according to the bylaws. So far, I get the feeling from conversations they he ignored the fine(s) and we have no improvment. The
manager said that the board, still controlled by the builder will want the village to help. I hope they can have better luck than what I have had with the village. I think the inspector is just brushing me aside.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 6:44PM
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Strictly from an occupancy limit standpoint, I had a sort of similar situation come up once with a rental. This particular rental is in the town I live in as well, I'm friendly with some of the staff that work in the town hall since personal + business takes me in there fairly often.

Anyway, rental is small 2 br/1 bath of the 'starter home' variety. The master is average size but BR #2 is small. (One child + their furniture will fill BR#2.) New at this back then, my very first scenario rolled around where a family or extended family too large for the house wanted to rent it. (Since then, I've learned it's a fairly common occurrence when one comes on the market.) There were 6 people total, kids were not little, they were teens or tweens. Space and privacy needs were ignored, the only consideration was location & that it was within their budget. I felt bad declining, but a lot of people using an older house not designed to hold a lot of occupants can increase the wear/tear factor considerably. Plus I don't want people camping out in living room (their solution) and forbid any sleeping in unfinished basement (no proper fire escape per code). There are other areas they can go around here and find something larger, affordable. It might not be quite as nice a neighborhood or school system, but that's they way it is.

I knew I didn't want to go down that path but wasn't sure legally how I could decline if their credit + history checked out OK. So I went and spoke to a friend in the town hall familiar with code. She said the town has no occupancy limits per se, they leave that up to LL's judgment. So maybe there is a reason some towns don't address occupancy, like yours gave. Doesn't make sense to me but since I've experienced it first hand, it does exist. I've had some people get very angry when I won't let them cram a bunch of people in a little house, but there has to be a line drawn somewhere.

So if that's what's going on in your situation, the brunt of it is going to be dealt w/between LL and Assn. I'm surprised LL will allow as many as 8 adults in a 2BR, but if he's charging a 'per person' rate he's got to be really raking in the $. If that's the case, the fines are probably nothing but a small ping to his profit margin.

But, as you say, these matters are dealt with in strictest confidence. (I've had neighbors inquire about a renter's situation that has become troublesome even to others and I just will not discuss it. Imagine that could get me in a boatload of legal hot water, violating privacy, etc.)

I'm just not that familiar with condo Assn rules. So where does it go if owner just flat our refuses to comply? They can't legally force him to sell, can they? (I'm just curious what Assn's next move could be, from a legal standpoint, if they are fining the owner and he's simply ignoring it all.)

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 9:31AM
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No, they can't force them to sell. After fines then its legal action if the board chooses. At that point its eviction. The Assn manager says the board wants the village to help. Maybe they can get action out of them, after all they are building in their town.

I'm not sure if the owner is paying or ignoring at this point.
I'm sure this will take a long time.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 6:29PM
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