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How To Get Heard A Guide for Unit Owners with Complaints

 As a condo owner, you’ve got a gripe. Whether it’s about Mrs. Smith’s poodle who barks all day or the neighbor’s teenaged son who blasts his Guns N’ Roses music when his parents aren’t home, you just want someone to listen and, of course, do something about your  complaint.  

 To have your complaint heard effectively, it’s best to follow the rules or bylaws that your association has set in place. For  some associations, the rules may require that you contact the property manager first with any complaints, while other associations require  that you go to the board first. Robert Linney, principal at Advanced Condominium Management Corp., inFoxboro, Massachusetts, says that his unit owners contact the management company  first, either in writing or by voice mail, with the issue they want to discuss.  “We’ll try to take care of it without getting to the point that you need to go to  the board,” he says.  

 In other community associations, how you complain really depends on what your complaint is really all about. “If your complaint is that another unit owner is making too much noise, then the association might have a protocol as to how you have to register a noise  complaint,” says Michael Merrill, an attorney at the law firm of Merrill & McGeary in Boston. “Other complaints may just be recorded and looked into when the schedule allows and other complaints may require that youemail the manager so that a paper trail has been started.”  

 Give the Property Manager a Chance

 Once you’ve made your complaint, be patient and give the managers a chance to do their  job. Depending on the complaint, property managers may need to hire an outside contractor in order to fix what you’re complaining about and they may be at the mercy of that vendor’s schedule. For example, you live in a small association and a water leak has sprung. The manager has  taken care of the situation so it’s no longer an emergency, but needs a plumber to completely fix the pipe, remove  the temporary taping job and fix the pipe and then call in a contractor to fix  the damage to the lobby – your complaint – and that takes time.

 “The bottom line is that you have to look at it from both sides,” says Merrill. “What I tell unit owners is that unless it’s an emergency, wait a reasonable time. If you haven’t gotten a satisfactory response then, whoever your contact person is, call them again. It’s a squeaky wheel and you have to write and call again and unfortunatelyyou have to make yourself a bit of a pest.”  

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