Q&A: Can You Hear Me Now?

Q I live in a 3-floor, 4-room, 30-unit condo, mostly 50-plus, with the only family with children (ages two and three) living on the third floor above me. For the past year there has been an excessive amount of constant running; playing on tile floors with outside-type toys; screaming and crying from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.; and playing in the bathroom. The sounds of the children jumpingoff the sofa and onto the floor has become almost unbearable. In addition, the mother has very little control over the children and prefers tokeep them in the house rather than taking them outdoors. I approached the husband one night when the noise had gotten intolerable and hesaid he didn't realize that it was that bad. He apologized and said he would see that it didn't happen again. However, the wife simply ignores him and the kids continue on.

Bottom line: I complained to the property management company (as well as other owners) about the noise from the family. The parents were sent a letter asking them to control their children. The noise stopped for three days but has since started again. They were notified again by property management but ignored the warning. My question now is what is the next step to enjoin these owners to follow the "noise" rules? Can an attorney help me?

—Sounding Board

A “You have brought up one of the most common difficulties that unit owners face: noisy neighbors who are arguably creating a nuisance,” says Joshua D. Krut, a partner with the law firm of Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman, P.L. in Fort Lauderdale Unfortunately, it is also one of the most difficult issues to address satisfactorily because what constitutes a nuisance is somewhat subjective and the available enforcement mechanisms are somewhat expensive to use.

“Interestingly, you mentioned that most of the owners within your community are 50 years of age and older. In Florida, the law actually allows you to live in an “adult only” community, which would likely allow you to avoid this sort of problem. Under Florida law and the rules created by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a condominium association has the right to seek an exemption under the Fair Housing Act in order to establish itself as a “55 and older community.” For a condominium association to qualify for this designation, the condominium must be intended and operated for occupancy by persons 55 years of age or older and meet other requirements. For example, at least 80% of the units must be occupied by at least one person who is 55 years old or older and this must be mandated in the governing documents. Further the association may prohibit residents who are 18 years of age or younger from permanently residing in the community. If you ever consider moving from your current residence, this type of community might well suit your needs.

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