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Habitat Magazine July/August 2020 free digital issue

HABITAT

ARCHIVE ARTICLE

Board Talk: A Conversation About Guests and Privacy

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I have frequent guests – friends, family – staying with me in my co-op. An out-of-control new owner keeps sending me harassing e-mails, claiming my guests do things while staying with me that I know are not true. Recently, he confronted my guests who were leaving, asking them their names, how they know me, where their family lives, and saying that staying with me is illegal. Is this an invasion of privacy or illegal? How would you handle this?

VP11104

This is a case of harassment. You should contact your board and report this.

MB

Thanks, VP, but he is on the board, as am I!

VP11104

So, it should be easier for you to communicate with him.

North Riverdale

I agree that it’s an invasion of privacy. Even though you’re both directors, I’d report it in writing to the board so you have a formal complaint that this person is harassing you and your guests. Unfortunately, some people think everything is their business when it isn’t, or just get some kind of perverse pleasure out of fluffing up their own feathers and putting others on the defensive. Stick to your rights, and I suggest you tell your guests not to answer this person. Good luck with this!

MB

Thanks, VP. This director also told my guests that I was doing something “illegal” by having them stay with me. Do you think I should have my personal attorney send a letter to the board or to this person individually? He also was abusive to my delivery service a couple of weeks prior, telling them to “get out of [his] way,” and demanded to know what was in the box when they were delivering a piece of furniture to me in accordance with house rules.

MRM

Plain and simple, you are being harassed. It does not make any difference if it is a board member or the old lady in Unit 9J; harassment is harassment. I would keep/document all correspondence (you mentioned this person e-mailed you). Be firm, copy all board members and the managing agent, if necessary. Once your guests are conforming to the house rules you have nothing to fear. If it were me I would have told this [person] to go mind his [own] business a long time ago.

APayne

What is the owner specifically accusing your guests of doing (i.e., is he accusing them of violating some house rules)? You need to know what his specific allegations are against your guests. Also, has this person complained to management or the board about your guests, or has he simply anointed himself the co-op police of the building? There is very little the board can do unless the other shareholder is formally complaining that you and your guests are violating house rules and/or the proprietary lease. The board will also probably be reluctant to get involved if it turns out it is just a dispute between shareholders where one is bothered by the fact that you have a lot of company. This is because anything that the board discusses is typically recorded in your minutes, and in this market you don’t want a prospective buyer reading that the neighbors can’t get along and as a result choose to buy elsewhere.

I would confront the shareholder directly and find out exactly what about your company is bothering him and ask him to refrain from harassing your company. State that if there is a problem, address it directly to you or you will be forced to file an aggravated harassment complaint against him with your local precinct.

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