Real estate

What Should You Do When Tenants Are Harassing Board Members?

Sometimes, abiding by the rules and regulations of a board, whether it be a condominium board or co-op board, can be tiring and draining to tenants. If you own your property outright, some tenants feel as though they do not have to abide by all of the rules of the corporations. Tenants can get upset for small infractions like having to remove trees that are not allowed, parking limitations, and even changing the color of your home. Approval is also necessary for things like adding large sheds that can be seen from the backyard, or even putting a pool in.

Some people feel that if they abide by the rules of the county they live in, they don’t have to abide by the rules of the corporation. This can be frustrating for both parties, especially if a tenant spent money to rectify these infractions. Even if you have an extensive and thorough rental application, you can’t really tell what a tenant can or will do in reaction to being reprimanded for a violation. You can, however, do two things to stop the tenant from harassing the board members: You can take legal action or change the bylaws.

Legal action

When someone is being harassed, it is always a good idea to take legal action. Sometimes, confronting a disgruntled tenant can cause more bad feelings between the two parties, and a middleman is necessary to calm the air. This is all dependant on the level of harassment that the tenant is bringing to the board member. If the tenant has resulted in threats of violence, do not engage them. Instead, simply call the police. Handing out a fine is a good way to deter a tenant from reacting. They can choose not to pay the fines, although this can also be resolved in small claims court. If you decide to take your tenant to court and the court rules in your favor, your tenant will also have to pay the court costs. If this is known beforehand, you may have the upper hand, and your tenant will stop the harassment.

By-law changes

If legal action does not deter your client and they ignore your pleas for peace, you can call a meeting and change the by-laws for your corporation to include a nuisance by-law. This new by-law — when worded correctly— can force the nuisance tenant to abide by the rules of the board. Otherwise, they will face fines and have to pay the corporations legal fees. These legal fees if not paid, can turn into a lien. If the owner then doesn’t pay the fines, the lien can be placed against their property and will have to be paid in the event that the house is sold. This type of action is necessary when tenants are refusing to pay their fines and will not stop harassing board members.

These by-law changes must be placed and worded in accordance to the laws of the county and or state to ensure that it is legally binding. Failure to word the by-law correctly can result in the tenant getting away with not paying fines and continuing to harass board members without consequence.

Dealing with tenants is hard enough without having to deal with harassment. Using software that helps organize your documents and having a lawyer accessible is key to preventing issues. Ensure that you’re fully protected against any nuisances before they occur, and get a by-law in the works. You never know what will happen to make your tenants upset with you. Be sure that all regulations are fair and just and that the tenants have a copy of the by-laws on hand even if the document is ever changing. They must be notified of any updates to the by-laws, as well.

Organizing your board with the right software can ensure that you have all of the information on hand if you ever needed to go to court. Protect your board and use preventative measures to ensure that harassment from a tenant can not go very far.

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