What to Do When Neighbor’s Tenant Violates the Rules

RE Q&A: If a tenant is damaging property or breaking the rules, their landlord can be held financially responsible and face fines for the tenant’s actions.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. Question: My neighbor in my high-rise condominium rents his unit to a Section 8 tenant. The tenant tracks grease onto the hallway carpets, leaving ugly stains, often makes a mess of the common area laundry room, and often smokes in common areas where it is not allowed. I have documented these complaints to the property manager with no visible action. What further action do you suggest? – Harry

Answer: Before I can address the core of your question, I need to clarify that the tenant’s rental assistance has nothing to do with their rights and responsibilities. In some jurisdictions, it is discriminatory for a landlord or community association to even consider a tenant’s source of income. Stated otherwise, the tenant receiving rent assistance has no effect on your situation.

That said, when a tenant, or unit owner, damages association property, they can and should be held responsible. The same goes for rule violations, like smoking in common areas.

While it will not be possible (for the association) to evict a tenant for violating community rules or damaging the property, their landlord can be held financially responsible for the damage and face fines for the tenant breaking the rules.

If the owner does not pay, the association can collect rent directly from the tenant to get paid. If these financial incentives do not fix the issues, both the association and other unit owners have other options.

It is the association’s responsibility to make sure the community rules are followed.

Your condo can sue the unit owner and tenant to get an “injunction,” which is the court’s order to stop a specific behavior. Not abiding by a court’s order can have serious ramifications, including spending some time in jail, although it rarely comes to that.

If the tenant’s behavior directly damages a neighbor’s use and enjoyment of their home, the aggrieved unit owner can sue the landlord and tenant if the association does not.

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