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harassment over petsOct 28, 2007


Advice/Feedback appreciated: I am a coop owner, and I have lived for many years next to the same neighbor who has periodically yelled at me over small, isolated incidents. I have always had a cat, and several months ago I was given a second one. My neighbor has gone ballistic, claiming that there is a "smell". I have been yelled at at several times to my face or through my door, my doorbell has been rung at 3am, and my neighbor has three times put awful, nasty notes on her door - once ridiculously threatening to sue me.

My neighbor also calls and harangues the management company. The managment company has called me on occassion (in turn), and although they refer to my neighbor as "my crazy neighbor" and apologize, they do give credence to the issue, in my opinion, by asking to check and see if I will allow them to "investigate" the smell (though they have never come into my apartment itself). The board has been to the hall to investigate, the building staff has been to the hall to investigate - no one has smelled anything to support this extreme nastiness. Furthermore, I feel very harassed and am nervous going into and out of my apartment as I know I could be attacked and yelled at at any time.

I am in uncharted territory. It all looks very silly but I know how quickly things like this can go from silly to serious. What can/should I be doing to protect myself and and peace of mind? Is there a way I can get my peaceful life back?

Thank you

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catastrophic neighbor - Batch Oct 29, 2007


Your neighbor sounds... uptight.

Ever talk to her about this?

Try that first. Take her a plant.

If all else fails, write the board and ask for a written response about the whole issue.

Be nice in your letter.

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plants - mayor Oct 29, 2007


Haha! Uptight! I know!

Frankly, I am not sure I can bring myself to bring over a plant but you may be right. I will try and picture myself doing it....

As I mentioned in my other response, I tried to talk to my neighbor when this all happened. Even invited the neighbor in to prove the smell was not originating in my apartment. Now that I think of it, I also mentioned that if the cat litter smelled to that degree then it would stand to reason that their paws would smell too, but that is not the case either. Not to repeat myself, but after agreeing that there was no smell, my neighbor began to get worked up and ending by yelling outside my closed door.

I think that I should write to the board and ask for a written response no matter what. And it should be about the whole issue.

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Your neighbor's problem - BP Oct 30, 2007


Just a thought. If your neighbor constantly complains of a bad odor and your cats aren't the source of it, maybe the odor is in your neighbor's apt. Ask your mgmt company to make an appointment with her to inspect her apt. They can say they want to track the "supposed" odor or something like that to justify the inspection. It sounds like she has a problem that has nothing to do with you or your cats but maybe there's something in her apt that's creating an odor. If you and the mgmt company haven't been in that apt, who knows what's in there? Maybe very unsanitary conditions. Maybe an odor is filtering in from another apt or from outside or from dead mice someplace. You never know. Might be worth looking into.

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yes - do this: - big ed Oct 29, 2007


keep a VERY detailed record of each time your neighbor contacts you - in what form and the exact time. After there is a bit of a pettern, call the police. also - you can send a certified letter to the neighbor stating tha tyoua re intendeing to file a harassement charge if you continue to be bothered by baseless complaints.

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> Join the conversation Comments (2)
records - mayor Oct 29, 2007


You are right, my records should be very detailed. I have kept a little "sketch" of each incident but I have certainly not been diligent about time and nature of the contact. The certified letter is a terrific idea! I wonder if it would help to have it come from my lawyer's office?It is amazing to think of contacting the police...

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records - mayor Oct 29, 2007


You are right, my records should be very detailed. I have kept a little "sketch" of each incident but I have certainly not been diligent about time and nature of the contact. The certified letter is a terrific idea! I wonder if it would help to have it come from my lawyer's office?It is amazing and scary to think of contacting the police...

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Pets... - AdC Oct 29, 2007


No resident should yell at another resident in a builidng.
If there is a cause you have not explained. I don't think it has to do just because of smell. Consequently, you should try to MEDIATE the issue through the board or management and find out if there is something in which your irrational neighbor may articulate that you may remediate. IF there is nothing to remediate, then perhaps through mediation there would be a point of TOLERANCE where the two of you may live.

However, speak with your local enforcement agents, and even your own attorney to try to get an order to get the neighbor off your face or even ringing your bell at any time of day or night to annoy you.

AdC

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yelling - mayor Oct 29, 2007


Hi AdC,

Is mediation something I can specfically request from the board or management? Would it be a formal process?

I agree, it sounds crazy that my neighbor is yelling because of smell, but that is what my neighbor says. And that is the reason my neighbor gives for continually calling the management company. The first time this happened, I invited my neighbor in. When he/she came into my entry-way he/she said "Oh my! What a beautiful apartment" and then, "I dont smell anything!" and then promptly began getting very upset about there being two cats, etc., and the upset escalated to full-blown yelling. The upset began in my apartment and the yelling continued even after I closed my door.


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Neighborly Prozac - AR Oct 29, 2007



Right now, the best you can do is keep record.
The Board would not (or should not) get involved unless there is a lot of substantiation for it. Otherwise, they are getting involved on what may seem more of a personal issue and not a building, or board matter.
Your objective is showing that the neighbor is breaching your right to the quiet, peaceful enjoyment of your premises, which is promised in the proprietary lease that you signed.
Give the Board reason to mediate. Simply letting them know that someone is bothering you is not enough.
Do you know a layer friend? Have them write a letter to the resident to seize and desist from all harassing behavior... add it to your documentation.

~AR

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> Join the conversation Comments (2)
AR, Great idea: "Cease and desist" letter - E.M. Lee Oct 30, 2007


Do you know a layer friend? Have them write a letter to the resident to seize and desist from all harassing behavior... add it to your documentation.




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Alternative to atty scare letter... - AR Oct 31, 2007


An alternative if you do not have a "friend", as not to spend $200+ for a letter is to write the letter to the resident from yourself personally, and inform the party that this is a letter of intent to pursue legal action and openly cc:Sue Everybody, ESQ (obviously replacing the name with any). This also gets decent response, and it adds to the documentation needed.

Remember, this is not my choice method, just a method that sometimes work

~AR


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Permit me to disagree with your assessment - AdC Oct 30, 2007


The Board needs to intervene. First, what does the House Rules' Pet Policy say about housing two pets? If the co-op does not object to it, WHY a resident of a co-op has to take violent objection to two pets?

Second, by now shouts may have escalated to co-op common property (common hallways, parking areas or lobbies, etc.)which may affect the morale of the building and/or other neighbors witnessing the conflict in person or behind doors.

So, if you recognize that there is "breaching [your] of a right [to the quiet, peaceful enjoyment of your premises,] which is promised in the proprietary lease and the THE BOARD is not willing to intervene WITHOUT PARTIALITY what else is expected for that co-op??? I think one of the Board functions is to ensure the enforcement of the propreitary lease in its entirety... no pick and choose of the most interesting sections.

A board should address the issue before it is out of control. I would say, speak through management to both parties to find "the truth" surrounding the issues impartially. If there is any corrective action or subjective problems that need to be addressed, a letter should be sent stating the position of the Board including suggesting mediation if this were a viable alternative.

Otherewise, a board who does not intervene should be given my most EXTREME recommendation: buy two guns in order to have a GOOD OLD FASHIONED DUEL. Give a gun to each party and hope that one eliminates the other as quickly as possible. IN this way, the board will free of problems ad will have no need to intervene.

AdC





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Yea But... - AR Oct 31, 2007


If a board intervenes without proven cause, beit a breach of lease, house rules, etc, it is considered harassment. This is why I state to document and provide valid cause for intervention, so that the resident cannot come back and state that the Board is harassing them. Much like the police cannot overstep their bounds in certain situations unless a citizen files a formal complaint against the opposing party... I'm sure many of us had herd that at one time or another; call the police to complain about certain activities and we are told that we must come in and file a complaint before they can act on the situation in the manner we want (It has me many times). this is to protect themselves, not you. For the same reason the Board should not jump into a situation that is undocumented; if they are sued by the trouble resident for harassment, they have no ammo to fight with, even though they may be 100% right.

~AR

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Unfortunately... - AdC Oct 31, 2007


I don't think someone who is being yelled at frequently by another will need much to document if it happens in common areas of the property and gives you proper notification with specific information. Also, the agreaved should try to file a police report and obtain legal help as you well put it before.

However, an appropriately crafted letter by management to the alleged offender may open the avenues of communication and send a signal that management and the board may be willing to help with any deficiency brought to their attention.

AdC

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and then.. - AR Oct 31, 2007


While it is good that the building residents hear it, unless the residents are willing to go and testify in court, it means nothing.
I agree with your overall thought, however, I am just extra cautious for the following reason....
I personally would still advise the Board to be hands off until there is documented and just cause. Just cause defined by a breach in the PL, BL or HR, whereby the Board then has a duty to intervene. Even at that point, the Board should not do it, it should be Management writing the letter and leaving the Board out of it as to protect them.
Sometimes, management will get involved in this situation to find out that there is usually three sides to a story; apartment 1's, apartment 2's side and then the truth.


~AR

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Board intervention - AdC Nov 01, 2007


Board has fiduciary resposibility for the co-op; thus, it has responsibility for strict observance of the PL and by-laws (not to say half-observance as this chatroom in general may demonstrate). Thus, management and/or co-op counsel are delegated to deal with these issues.

As a Board who is concerned with preserving the quality of living that you have even recognized, a letter received from the shareholder with sufficient documentation (dates, hours, location of incident) or even verbal reports from witnesses of at least two observable events are enough for investigation by management. This is similar to a noise complaints from one neighbor about another: a Board through management should not start a noise investigation that may be considered frivolous, i.e., an isolated incident or a claim of noises from another apartment with no date or hour or good description of the noise to justify an investigation.

HOwever, should the board receive a reasonable letter to open an investigation, it has no other choice but to request the intervention through a well crafted letter from management and if necessary with co-op counsel to bring order to a situation that may escalate into an unpleasant neighborly dispute for other residents.

AdC


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Just to reiterate - AR Nov 01, 2007


"I personally would still advise the Board to be hands off until there is documented and just cause. Just cause defined by a breach in the PL, BL or HR, whereby the Board then has a duty to intervene. Even at that point, the Board should not do it, it should be Management writing the letter and leaving the Board out of it as to protect them."

It sounds like what I am saying and what you are saying are the same thing, with exception to the fact that I like more documentation or substantiation; this is just a managers way

best
~AR

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