Acknowledge the Situation. Get out in front of the problem. Some boards tend to hope that it will just go away; it probably won't. Board members have a duty to the rest of the unit-owners and residents to make sure that kind of activity is stopped.
Take Action. Do whatever you have to do, but whatever you have to do, be aggressive about it. Try to resolve it with the unit-owner if you can, but the staff and the doormen have to be the first line of defense. [Be aware that] there's only so much the doormen can do. These people own units in the place, and they can be very sneaky.
Expect Expenses. The time that I've spent personally on it — I can't even estimate. In terms of the money, the attorneys' fees alone had been close to — I want to say somewhere around $90,000 to $100,000; it could be even more. In trying to stop one bed-and-breakfast, we first put out a building-wide warning, hoping that would stop it. Then we put out a warning letter directed to the responsible unit-owner, which we hoped would stop it, and a second warning letter to her, which we hoped would stop it. We let her know that we intended to take it further if we needed to, whether that was a lawsuit or getting the authorities involved.
Keep Residents in the Loop. Our board is very transparent; we communicate with our building a lot. We constantly kept the residents updated through our BuildingLink emails and memos. I recommend that to any board who's going through this situation — make sure that the rest of the unit-owners know what's going on and understand the seriousness of it, because they can be a good ally as well as a watchful eye.
Our building, our community, is completely, completely supportive of the board in making these moves. So we put out a building-wide notice to everybody to make sure that everyone was on the same level playing field, everyone knew what the policy was going to be going forward, there were going to be fines issued, etc. When we filed suit, when we got our first restraining order; and finally when she was found in contempt, we let the ownership know.
From an edited interview by Carol J. Ott, Habitat May 2014
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