A unit owner in your condominium association has become an extreme hoarder and has allowed her unit to become unkempt with trash, animal droppings, smoking and other conditions. Rancid odors from her unit emanate into the common hallways and into other units. The Association has written letters, sent emails and imposed fines. Other unit owners have even offered to pay to clean the unit, but the unit owner refuses to respond...What Happens Now?
Most condominium association governing documents contain requirements that unit owners clean and maintain all portions of their unit and keep all parts of their unit in a sanitary condition. These provisions also normally prohibit rubbish, refuse or garbage from accumulating and prohibiting unit owners from engaging in any use or practice which is or will likely become a source of annoyance to residents and other owners.
As a means to enforce these provisions, it is not uncommon for condominium governing documents to allow the association to take possession of a unit by filing suit against the unit owner to terminate their ownership interest, evict of the unit owner and sell the unit as the association’s remedy.
Real estate property rights are some of the most valued and protected rights in the United States. It will be an absolute requirement that the association have well documented evidence of the ongoing and chronic nature of the violation by the unit owner. Such evidence should include numerous written demands mailed to the unit owner; witness testimony by multiple residents and the management company; pictures of the interior of the unit (if possible); police and health department reports from calls initiated by the association to inspect the unit; testimony from companies hired to clean the unit, etc.
This is a very extreme remedy and is available only for the most extreme circumstances. This remedy should be considered only after the association has exhausted all other remedies and means available to convince the unit owner to abate the condition voluntarily. As the association weighs its options, it should consult closely with its attorney as this remedy could prove to be very expensive and time consuming if the unit owner hires counsel to oppose the association’s use of the remedy (even if the court ultimately rules in favor of the association).