Condo Owners Policing Property

icu222June 11, 2006

I am a tenant in a 200+ unit Condominium on the coast.

Recently, a group of owners who live in the Condo has gotten together and formed shifts of "police" (they call themselves "volunteers") who monitor all areas of the property.

This means if you go to the pool and perhaps nobody else is there, as soon as you enter the gate one of the "police" will come in and pull up a chair and monitor your activity until you leave. Of course if you happen to break any rules you will immediately be notified.

If your family eats at the public tables, they will sit at a chair about 15' away and position it so they can watch your group. If anyone breaks a rule (for instance, if the seabreeze blows a plate off a table), they will immediately get up and ask you to throw away your trash. Or if one of your children steps outside "the boundry" with their watermellon, they will stand up and tell the child and the group "no food allowed outside the boundry".

The sports areas are monitored for any "infractions" as are the hallways and sidewalks. You have to walk your bicycle out of the garage area before you can get on it.

They will yell down to you from their balconies to inform you of any indescretions they observe.

I'm pretty laid back myself, so it is rare for any of the confrontations to effect me personally. But lately I notice other families getting "yelled at" by this 12 to 15 member police force.

I imagine it is probably legal for them to do this. We are long-term renters but don't have any rights because we can't join their meetings or vote on anything that goes on here.

On the other side of the coin, we constantly observe these same owners breaking some of the rules themselves:

No dogs allowed over 20 lbs.

Dogs must be carried in arms in elevators.

One parking place per vehicle.

Items not to be stored in your parking place.

No trailers on property.

We watch several of these exact same people breaking their own rules.

I know they say "Condo living is not for everyone" so I have been trying to adjust my thinking. But it just gives me a really strange feeling to have them watching me and my family all the time as though we are criminals. Cameras are one thing, at least you don't "feel" like you are being watched. But they make it very obvious they are watching your every move.

By the way, we are in a very secluded area, and to my knowledge there have been no reports of problems or vandalism or roudy people or anything that would have caused them to do this.

There are a lot of reasons why I do love living here, so I don't want to "just move". Is there anything that could be done? Should I just try to get used to it? I used to wait until nobody was at the pool then go down for a few solitary laps. I really miss being able to have that feeling anymore. And I feel bad for my family having to always feel that they are about to get yelled at.

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lazy_gardens

Could the California anti-stalking law be of use?

Get the rules and read the rules, carry a copy of the rules with you at all times.

Find a few others who are annoyed by the "policing", arm yourselves with digital cameras and start policing the police. Let them know that you think that self-policing is SUCH A GREAT IDEA THAT YOUR GROUP IS GOING TO DO IT TOO. Then cite them, turn them into the condo board with pictures, etc. for whatever you find.

I had this happen with a rental property I owned - some self-styled "neighborhood watch" started getting my property and tenants cited for absolutely petty things. I took my 35mm camera with a telephoto lens and cruised the neighborhood and found several rolls of film worth of violations. I reported 60% of the neighborhood for violating one or more of the city codes. There was a really loud meeting where I was called a "vigilante slumlord" and then the problem stopped. I told them that every time they hassled my tenants I would make sure the entire neighborhood was complying with the rules.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2006 at 9:44AM
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harvestime

I'd say lazyg has nailed how to respond!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2006 at 7:19PM
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over_n_under

I guess I would want to see where they truly have any authority. Because they are self-appointed they may have absolutely no authority to do anything. If I was to use a pool by myself and was being watched, I'd consider filing a stalking/harassment complaint.

So, the next time one of the 'police' hassles you about anything, offer to exchange information. I'll give you my name and address and you give me yours. And you can say I'm breaking the rules and I can say that you are harrassing me with no legal right to do so.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2006 at 7:58AM
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GammyT

You rent, if the people who own voted in rules, your landlord should have been there to vote no. You don't have to live by the HOA rules but if you don't your landlord will hear about it.

Maybe they are doing it because there are problems and they are trying to figure out who is causing the problems. If they watch your family so close at the pool and picnic tables and sports areas, just prove to them that your family isn't the problem.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2006 at 9:11PM
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neoadorable

it's better to live in a place where someone cares about what's going down, having lived myself in many examples of the the oppositve. be thankful for that.

as for them breaking their own rules, that's a an unfortunate result of the corrupting effect power has over people. use advice given you by previous responses and hold them accountable.

overall, i'm in favor of their initiative. if there's corruption involved then try ro fight it if it's really bothering you. if, like you said, your family's generally benefitting from the "police" presence, then why worry? if it annoys you that they're prejudiced in favor of themselves, keep track of their activities and expose them when possible.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2006 at 3:23AM
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oceanside2006

Years ago I was faced with a similar situation. I happen to live in CA. This is stalking. I would be contacting the owner(s) about this problem, and tell them you feel your privacy is being violated, and that you are feeling harassed.

When I did this, the owner was too lazy to step up to the plate until I contacted an attorney. You have rights to privacy, and what they are doing is considered stalking.

No ONE and I mean NO ONE should have to live in this type of situation. It's not only emotionally draining it's borderline abuse.

All it took was a letter from my attorney to the owners to put a stop to the self appointed "policing" tenants to back off of me.

The last straw for me was when I was taking in a 15 min jacuzzi, and one of the self appointed men sat there leering at me. Not comfortable at all! Get legal counsel if you can't handle it with your owner, and put every single thing in writing. Date it, and sign it.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 8:55AM
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lang

Sheesh..Prisoners don't even get watched like this..

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 1:30PM
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tampacondo

That is ridiculous.

I would go down to pool area with a book and wait until the "guard" shows up. After about five minutes, you get up and look like you forgot something. Leave, go back to your unit and wait for the "guard" to leave.

Then go back out to the pool with your radio/mp3 player, headphones and book and wait until the "guard" shows up again. Wait about five-ten minutes and then have a friend ring your cell phone. You are engaged in a conversation and again have to leave the pool area and go inside your house. Wait until the "guard" leaves.

After you finish your "conversation" go back to the pool area and proceed to read your book while listening to your music. Wait until "guard" returns. Five to ten minutes later, the batteries go dead on your player and you have to go back to your unit to get more...

Etc. Etc.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2006 at 12:47PM
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