People have a right to their privacy, and to be able to enjoy their own homes. Which means others don’t have a right to infringe upon that enjoyment, unless it’s unavoidable (such as in the case of a street renovation project). If only the disruptions of community living were that infrequent—but they’re not.
Occasionally, a resident’s behavior adversely affects others in the community, and the behavior becomes an issue which must be dealt with by management. Whether it’s a hoarder, an elderly person with medical problems, a mentally ill resident or another resident in a similarly difficult predicament, management and the board must tread cautiously.
Still, in such cases, the powers that be must go there. If the board of trustees fails to act, they could be neglecting their duty as board members and might end up being held liable for it. Besides, cases of residents with difficulties aren’t insurmountable; often they can be worked out to benefit everyone. But to do so, management must rely on diplomacy, tact, sensitivity to the privacy of residents, and an adherence to the letter of the law.
The conundrum may start with a foul odor creeping into the hallway, which residents gradually notice, until they can’t ignore it. Realizing the smell isn’t going away, they complain about the odor to building staff. Other times, the problem with a resident is not the smell from his or her unit but the unsafe conditions within it. These conditions might not have any telltale signs, such as smells, or junk piled up against a window and visible from the street.
And sometimes, the problem in the unit is discovered by the building maintenance man. When he tries to access a pipe that he needs to fix, he can’t gain access to do the repair because of the all of the stuff jam-packed into the unit.