Life in a condo presents a very unique living arrangement. After all, we're talking about a large number of folks that are mostly strangers to one another pretty much living under the same roof. In an ideal world, all of these people from all walks of life would live harmoniously together. However, the reality is, conflicts and disputes are bound to arise at some point. These issues will arise for a myriad of different reasons. In this post, we list the most common sources of conflict between neighbours and four steps on how to deal with them for property managers and board members.
Violation of Regulations
The rules set out that govern each corporations are not only accessible to each resident, but there is an assumption that anyone living in the building is aware and understand the rules. Each person that violates the rules are responsible for their actions. The rules are generally easy to understand and if one has questions about any, the property manager or board members are there to answer any questions. The rules should in principle contain most, if not all, of the issues relating to the corporation and residents' conduct such as issues around pets, smoking, guests and so on.
Living in very close quarters from one another, noise issues are probably the most common ones brought up in any community. The good news is, most cases surrounding excessive noise can be resolved through simply letting the residents know that the noise level is beyond what is acceptable. The best course of action for any resident suffering from excessive noise from neighbours is to bring it up to the property manager or board member. It is very important to let residents know that is the best way to deal with it. When things are left in the hands of residents, minor issues can quickly escalate into bigger ones.
Issues Pertaining to Common Areas
Another very common source of conflicts comes from the areas that are shared between all of the residents: the common areas. By definition, the common areas belong to all of the residents. However, when one can use them vary depending on which areas they are. For instance, facilities like BBQ pits and party rooms typically require reservations ahead of time. On the other hand, pools or gyms can be used by residents at all times when it is open. In all of these cases, the conflicts typically arise when a resident mistreats a facility or uses it excessively. As with noise issues, the best way to deal with this it to communicate it to the property manager or board member.
4 Steps to Resolving Disputes
Despite all of the necessary precautions, there will be times when things do escalate. In those cases, there needs to be a methodology on how to resolve the conflicts. Below is a four-step process we propose:
a) Understand the Issue
A large number of cases simply come from a resident's unawareness of a hindrance. These issues can easily be resolved by simply talking to neighbours. This step requires compromise and a collective desire to have a pleasant living experience. If such issues cannot be resolved at this stage, it is only then where the involvement of the corporation may be necessary.
b) Legal Considerations
The next step requires a review of the regulation and also the laws governing condos in your jurisdiction. The rules are usually very clearly laid out. It is important to let those involved in any dispute know about what the rules are and let them digest it.
If problems persist or cannot be resolved, it would then be the right time to contact concerns to a board member or property manager. What happens thereafter is that the property manager will typically communicate with the other party to either issue a warning or suggest a solution to the issue. A useful thing to do at this stage is to capture the communication in writing either by letter or by email so that things are properly documented.
d) Further Action
It is never advisable for anyone take matters to court because they are costly and time consuming. If things however still do not get resolved, the best way to deal with issues is to consider mediation and arbitration. The rules behind mediation and arbitration are typically laid out in the law and also regulations. Ideally, all parties involved should attempt to avoid this step, but in the worst case, these dispute mechanisms were set in place to help parties avoid going to court.
If your corporation experiences many conflicts, note that technology is always a great way to set in place safeguards and precautions to best avoid them. Feel free to contact us to see if we can help you deal with disputes in your corporation.