News & Media
Single-family home with for-rent sign out front
ejs9, E+, Getty Images

How Can We Get Rid of Our Rowdy Renters?

How should neighbors deal with unruly tenants in a townhome community? Focus on the individuals causing the problem.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Question: Lately, some of the renters in our townhome community have been disruptive. There have been noise disturbances, domestic violence, unleashed pets and even open drug use. When some homeowners raised their concerns, the association said their ability to address the problem was limited, and changing rental bylaws was almost impossible. What can we do to make our neighborhood safe and peaceful again? — Brian

Answer: Dealing with unruly neighbors can be difficult, and even a single disruptive neighbor can ruin the other homeowners’ enjoyment of their neighborhood. Unfortunately, I have seen this issue occur many times in my law practice.

You seem to have taken the first step in alerting your homeowner association board to the problem. However, rather than addressing the problem directly, they seem to be trying to stop renting altogether, which is quite an undertaking. In most associations, it will require most, if not all, owners to agree to ban renting outright. This is unlikely to occur since some owners are already renting their units.

Instead of trying to change the “system,” your community should focus on the individuals causing the problem.

Looking at it another way, the problem is caused by the unit owners renting to disruptive tenants. Since owners who are landlords are responsible to your association for their tenant’s actions, your association should directly warn the unit owners that their tenants are violating the community’s rules and that the owners will be held responsible if it does not stop. If the problems continue, your community can fine those owners for their tenants’ misbehavior. If it continues, a lawsuit seeking an “injunction” or court order telling the tenants to stop their misdeeds can be filed. Depending on how your community’s rules are written, your association may even be able to evict the disruptive tenants.

Dealing with community members who do not follow the rules can be difficult, but until your community starts enforcing the rules, things are not going to improve.

Copyright © South Florida Sun Sentinel, Gary M. Singer. All rights reserved.