Avoiding Condo Disputes

March 2015

As condos are chosen over other forms of housing the incidence of disputes will continue to increase.

People will inadvertently act and do things in ways that others find distasteful. One may wander the halls in various states of undress. Another may keep the television so loud that it can be heard in hallways and neighbouring suites. One may bounce a basketball on the floor that can be heard in dozens of suites. Yet another may store their possessions or discard litter in a hallway.

Condos often have a set of rules that lay out how residents are expected to act within the confines of the building. This forms the basis of what is considered proper conduct for a condo.

Conflicts or problems are usually directed to the Management Office for good reason. It is best that residents not confront each other over most matters. Experience shows that, when issues are addressed through the Management Office, they are perceived as less personal and more easily resolved. This approach addresses the problem of one resident being frustrated over a problem while another resident may not be aware that a problem exists.

While documentation is necessary for those situations that are less easily resolved, the best condo managers start by talking with residents in person or on the telephone. This allows them to better understand a problem and why a resident is behaving as they are. Talking avoids putting a person on the defense and potentially making a bad situation worse. If talking eliminates the offending behavior then no further action is required.

An effective condo manager is able to influence behavior by a combination of persuasion and force. Persuasion requires more initial effort, in the form of explanation, but tends to produce better long term results. It usually involves explaining certain rules, the reasons behind the rules and how others are being affected. Force is easier. Document the offending behaviour in written correspondence, then quote the appropriate rule and resulting action if such behaviour is not rectified. Unfortunately, this does create a confrontational situation that can become costly if disputed.

As with most matters dealing with people, some common sense goes a long way.

Minor rule infractions that impact on or are noticed by few individuals are less time sensitive. When someone is out of control with regard to compliance, it becomes that much more important that the matter be addressed quickly and forcefully for the benefit of those affected.