Landlords are required to ensure that all residents have “quiet use and enjoyment” of their apartment. For this reason, owners must deal with any resident who disrupts the “livability” of the property. Owners can ensure that this responsibility is met by taking certain steps:
- House Rules – both the lease and house rules or policies should address the safety, comfort and convenience of residents. The lease should also state that a violation of property policies is a lease violation. Property policies should ban abusive or harassing behavior at the property, including occupants, guests, management, employees, and contractors.
- Sample House Rule or Policy:
- Residents are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that does not disturb other residents. Resident agrees not to create or allow to be created by members of Resident’s household, relatives, guests, invitees, or agents any disruptive, noisy, or otherwise offensive use of the premises. Residents will be held responsible for any disruptive conduct by their guests. A violation of this rule is a violation of the lease.
- Talk to the Resident – if a household creates problems at the site, talk to the household. In many cases, an informal approach may work. Let the household know that disruptive behavior will not be tolerated. If the problem was created by a guest, let the resident know and make it clear that the behavior will not be tolerated. Ask the resident for the name of the guest and document the discussion.
- Send a Polite Letter – if the problem continues, send a polite – but firm – warning letter to the resident. The letter should:
- Tell the resident that the behavior has continued;
- Specify the date of the most recent disruptive incident; and
- Remind the resident that they are responsible for all activity in a unit.
- Send Strong Letter to get Action – the letter should:
- State that the troublemaking conduct of the resident or guest is a violation of the property rules;
- Specify the lease clause and house rule that was violated;
- List the date of the oral warning and the first warning letter;’
- State the dates and details of all the incidents, including those that occurred after the warning letter. Also note any police calls or arrests;
- Specify the lease paragraph and house rule that was violated; and
- Threaten eviction if the problems continue.
- Seek Eviction – if the problem continues, eviction may be required. If there is a danger to the property, residents, or staff, more immediate action than eviction may be required.
- E.g., “No Trespassing” – this sign should be posted at all sites so that problem guests can be banned from a property. If the guest can be contacted, send a “no trespassing” notice by mail. Otherwise, if you see the offender at the property, hand deliver the notice (unless it is dangerous to do so).
The trespassing notice should state that the individual is not allowed on the property and that if he/she comes back, a trespassing complaint will be filed, and you will prosecute. Give a copy of the notice to the resident.
Ultimately, owners and managers must understand that every resident has the right to “quiet use and enjoyment” of their home without undue disturbance by other residents.