Document It, Document It, Document It!
As coop and condo attorneys we get more calls and emails about quality of life issues than just about anything else. Whether it’s noise, smoking, cooking odors, or disturbing alterations, quality of life issues can cause major problems for both boards and their residents.
Since lawyers are usually the last resort, more often than not the situation has been going on for quite some time before we are first contacted. Unfortunately, many clients still have to start at square one even though the problematic situation has been long-running. This is because the client has no written documentation of any kind related to what has been occurring in the building, such as reports from staff or other residents, or testing by engineers and other professionals where applicable.
Reports and Testing
For example, if a noise concern arises, the board may want to have an acoustical engineer make a site visit and determine the severity of the problem and its genesis. If residents are complaining of environmental issues threatening their health and wellness, the board may want to hire an industrial hygienist to inspect the property.
In order to increase the chances of being successful in potential litigation, we advise clients to keep detailed records from the start of the issue, such as when and where the problem began, and to obtain reports from appropriate professionals where applicable. All complaints should be diligently logged and staff should investigate the complaints whenever possible as well as keep a paper trail by issuing written reports. Courts will not enforce fines or more drastic action against shareholders and unit owners unless the board has the backup to prove its case.