Legal action against neighbor?(13 posts)
Hi - Has anyone heard of taking legal action against a neighbor in condo unit? Everyone knows he's the source of the problem. He has it the worst, it started with him, AND it started right after he brought home a couch he found on the street.
Also, is there any way to force a neighbor who owns to treat his/her unit in a condo building?
I think this will be more and more common (lawsuits against an individual condo owner in a building for bedbugs), especially since having bedbugs can significantly bring down the sale price of all units in the building--so if a particular unit owner has bedbugs, all other condo owners have potentially suffered a financial loss due to it.
The only way I've heard of action against a condo owner so far is to go through the condo association. The association gets the owner to sign that he will agree to do such and such (specific steps--removing clutter, letting PCO in to treat, whatever), and then if the owner doesn't follow through, the association can enforce it.
It's time that condo associations had bedbug clauses in their bylaws.
I am wondering the same thing. A neighbor illegally sublet his apartment to this foul idiot who brought bed bugs in the building and then did NOTHING about it for nearly two months. Of course once the secret was out, the illegal tenant left and the apartment owner has only come ONCE in three weeks to clean or spread DE - in fact, he left without letting me dust his apartment because he fell asleep and when he woke up he had to run.
I am allergic to these bugs and I am covered with bright red scars all over the my arms
legs and even my butt. Now I understand that anybody could catch bed bugs. But once you know you have them, you should do something about it. Meanwhile, mylandlord is being a total idiot and hasn't moved on it either even after knowing over two weeks about this.
I think he's hoping the entire building will get so infested everybody will leave - especially the rent control tenants. My life meanwhile has turned into a total nightmare including having to wear long sleeves in this heat wave. I really am toying
with the idea of seeking legal counsel. Only thing - most lawyers will probably be afraid for me to come near them. That's another concern of mine. I feel like typhoid Mary
I have to laugh about the lawyers not comiing near you. That's true! I was in a Wendy's in the city where I work and at the next table I overheard a lawyer meeting with student tenants who were hiring him to take legal action against their landlord about bedbugs.
The lawyer did not go to their apartment or let them come to his office, instead he was meeting them in a Wendy's! No privacy whatsoever, but I guess this way he thought he was less likely to get bedbugs.
As members advise here, the lawyer was asking the students for a papertrail. Things like: Did you put it in writing? Did you e-mail your landlord? Did you send a letter? Did you take photos? Do you have receipts?
Neighbors who won't take action against bedbugs are similar to (but much worse than) neighbors who make excesive noise. Some examples are neighbors who play a hifi very loud or who practice on the piano or other musical instrument.
Some cities have an ordinance against excessive noise. This would be a precedent for a lawyer to start with in a bedbug case.
Some cities also have an ordinance against unpleasant odors, such as from garbage cans behind a restaurant or from manufacturing operations (glue making, for instance), or from stockyards.
There is a need for a similar ordinance regarding bedbugs.
In some cities, ordinances give landlords the duty of clearing up insect pests. But that does do not apply to condos. Also, these ordinances do not allow a renter to take action against a neighboring renter where the landlord is negligent or has no legal responsibility.
Of course, it cannot be proved that a neighbor is the cause of a bedbug infection, but the neighbor should cooperate in getting rid of the problem. An ordinance should include allowing inspection of his apartment by a trained and qualified PCO. (This would be similar to a search warrant, which is serious business. But bedbugs are serious business too.)
Does anyone know what sort of legal rights an HOA has to have a condo unit inspected against the owner's wish. We have had bugs and I want to get the neighbors unit inspected, but have met some resistance.
Wow. Apparently Colorado is really becoming a haven for the little buggers.
I'm in a townhouse in Denver, and have a similar problem. The owner of the unit next door is somewhat cooperative (he used the PCO I found and made the tenants buy new mattresses), but the tenants clearly have no clue. They left 4 disgusting mattresses on their back deck for 4 days before dragging them to the trash pile. But they pay their rent, so the owner has no interest in evicting them. (They've also shared their cockroaches with both me and the unit on the other side of them. Until I met the bedbugs, I was pretty grossed out by the roaches. Now, I'd gladly take 5 times the roaches to make the bedbugs go away...)
Based on the mattresses, and the PCO's face when he came out (and his 14 winks as he said, "It's very, very unusual for them to travel under a shared wall like that..."), their unit is seriously infested. I feel completely helpless and hopeless (that no matter what I do in my unit it won't matter), and am ready to put my house on the market, even though that will have horrible financial ramifications in today's economy. (And, my conscience struggles with handing this off to someone else, who will have no idea what they're getting into.)
The HOA contact said all she can do is send out letters to all of the units in that building, and invited me to attend the Board of Directors meeting later this week. What is reasonable to ask of the BOD? Can they evict? Inspect? Anything? I was intending to buy a new house (detached!) and rent mine out until it at least recovered its value to when I bought it 4 years ago. But now I'm thinking I may just need to cut my losses and get out. I definitely don't want to put tenants in there while the dirty, negligent neighbors are still around.
What a nightmare this all is!
Matt & Bugry: I was in the exact same situation, but unfortunately I don't have any answers for you. I had a great condo in Denver that got bedbugs. That condo has now been foreclosed on, a bad situation all the way around. I actually was alerted to bedbugs in a neighboring unit when I attended a board meeting about a completely different issue. Now that I look back, I see that the board didn't act at all with bad intent. It's just that they were clueless about how to deal with the problem and every day it was getting worse. And it wasn't like my neighbor wasn't doing anything - they were treating on a regular basis with a reputable PCO. But it was an old building and preventing bug travel among apartments was just impossible.
I guess my experience gives me only a few useful thoughts: This is an issue that needs to be tackled by whatever homeowner association advisory boards there are. Guidelines need to be developed and published; so that, for instance, my HOA could have consulted those guidelines and immediately seen that they should probably have had all units inspected and then treated this as a whole building problem. That only as a first step.
My experience with HOAs for two different condos leads me to believe that condo boards potentially have a lot of leverage in a situation like this. They can, almost arbitrarily, establish guidelines and rules and levy fines for failure to comply. Obviously, legal counsel is the right way to vet this. But eventually, condo boards are going to have to wise up about this situation and come up with plans for dealing with it that involve all the owners (and tenants). I believe this is all legally enforceable.
Unfortunately, I didn't wait for this to happen because I was in a bad situation.
Also, Bugry - be aware that it is illegal in Colorado to sell your townhome and not disclose your bedbug problem. This is the first thing the real estate lawyer told me. Of course, it will only matter if the buyer subsequently sues you; and it seems many buyers have not yet cottoned on that they can do that in this state. Unless maybe, you don't any evidence that the bugs have traveled to your unit.
I'm in a similar boat. I live in an attached home and my neighbors have had bed bugs for over a year. This past Febuary they informed us that they had an infestation, which explained the odd insects that I had been finding in my living room at 5 am while changing my son's diaper before going to work. We had a professional come and treat the house, encased the mattresses, threw away clutter, put double sided tape around the bed legs (which are sitting on bowls of mineral oil), bagged our clothes & sheets, dry clothes to bone dry + 20 and still the bugs are biting (and its August)because my neighbors is self treating. The critters just keep coming over from the otherside of the party wall. We called the DOH but were told that there was nothing that they could do because bedbugs are not a health risk only a nusience...I haven't slept well in months. How do we get our neighbor to have a pcp come to treat their house so that the bugs stop going from house to house? They are flea market addicts with a very very very (I am talking an Oprah show episode) cluttered house. Can we sell & move in good conscience? I feel totally trapped and stressed out. What should I do?
Ditto, my neighbor may or may not have given them to me, but I think it's so. Regardless I observed her smashing and shaking her infested bedding (she didn't say a word, i thought she might be doing laundry, until....) about three weeks later when I discovered my own affliction. Simplest explanation, probably true. She also did not mention anything to the association, mgt co., or me during each of her two freezing treatments, which explained (in retrospect) why on two occasions i came home to bed bugs running amok in my entry, kitchen (all the adjoining walls) but of course I didn't know she had bed bugs until the PCO suggested she tell the association, and they suggested she tell me. Her flip "my problem is solved" may have been hasty. Her FREEZING treatment with Terminex didn't catch them all and now she's reinfected. This is the same "neighbor" who had her frozen but still apparently infested sofa taken out by guys who only knew it had bed bugs in it when I walked into her unit and offered trash bags to bag it.
People like that are almost as much a nuisance as the bugs themselves...almost.
Totally Buggin in Portland
Being able to take action against another condo owner is only going to make the problem worse. Then people are going to be reluctant to even tell the neighbours!
I did speak with an attorney a while ago. He had suggested that if a tenant (like my neighbor) knows they have bed bugs, and then spreads them around common spaces (through carelessness, or intent) they have committed "trespass" that is to say, they have knowingly spread in a public space a nuisance, hazard, etc., He suggested it was the same as a large corporation dumping something toxic or damaging in a public stream. Unfortunately, my association doesn't want to be mean, so no lawsuit. I can't complain about that too much, they paid for 4 treatments on my condo.
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