In condominium communities, sometimes the most heinous crime a manager can recall is a pair of drunken football fans upending pots of mums and “watering” the foliage. Serious crimes are indeed rare within residential communities but it may have more to do with surrounding neighborhoods—as realtors say, “location, location, location”—than anything else. In addition, rightly or not, community residents may feel shielded from criminal activity by the presence of property management.
Are condo boards or management taking calls these days that should be going to police? Steve Margolis is principal of Margolis Management & Realty in Hamden, Connecticut, a firm that manages 19 properties in a variety of suburban and urban communities that may combine residential and commercial space. He explains that police sometimes get calls from condo residents for what they consider “civil disturbances” and they tell the resident to contact their property manager. This illustrates how complaints must always be assessed—when do nuisance activities become criminal activities and at what point do you call the cops?
He agrees that criminal activities in the majority of condo communities are rare, mainly because, “the properties tend to be well-lit, neighbors are [physically] close to each other, and often are watching out... They are likely to report an unusual presence, since most properties post signs [that warn] private property, no soliciting, no trespassing. If someone comes knocking and they appear fishy, condo residents will call the police.” If it’s a nuisance issue with another resident, however, “People will call management because they want to get something resolved but don’t want to confront a neighbor,” Margolis notes.
When that happens, he points out, “I’m not going to act unless I have a complaint in writing. I might then call [the offender] and explain what the complaint is all about. If, for instance, I get complaints because someone’s having a party, I can cite regulations [in the condo docs] and send a warning to the owner. If it’s a violation, the board of trustees could assign a fine, but the owner is always entitled to a hearing... they have to be properly notified and may bring an attorney.”
Some infractions always seem to evade resolution, Margolis notes. “You have communities where kids ride bikes and skateboards... and on the roadways, no one stops at stop signs...