REPOSTED BY REQUEST – Recently our management team and building staff have received an increase in reports and complaints of problematic conditions. Particularly smoke odors and noise. We repost this past review of the Association’s basic procedures for helping when residents are dealing with difficult situations.
Our team wants to help. Smoking Odors are a common complaint! Though, disclaimer – it is a process that can require time and patience. And the Tower, while very well constructed, cannot not be made completely air tight or sound proof. But we have a process. We attempt to independently confirm such conditions and their source and if it is confirmed we engage those with those folks and begin the Association’s enforcement process. Our team stands ready to see that process through and help improve the living experience at Park Tower.
BY THE WAY – Fines for noise violations start at $50 and may double up to $1000 per incident! Fines for smoking odors start at $250 and may double up to $1000 per incident! So the Association means business when trying to resolve such conditions. More on that to come below.
Reports of excessive noise including tv, music and parties, and excessive smoke infiltration from cigarette and marijuana odors entering hallways and neighboring units, and other generally not neighborly behavior, top the list of complaints investigated by our staff at times. The important thing for residents to know though, is we do investigate and document such events. We will write warning letters. And the Association will fine the Owners of offending units.
It is a sacred, if often unspoken truth, what we do in our home is our own business. However, in a high rise multi-family community such as Park Tower, what we do often becomes our neighbor’s business whether we intend it or not. What we eat, what music we listen too, the movie we’re watching, or yes – smoking. It becomes a problem when your neighbors can hear it or smell it. If your neighbor can hear your music clearly or get a buzz from whatever you are smoking, that’s now rightfully your neighbor’s business.
Smoking is allowed inside units. Listening to your music, is allowed in your home. But residents in other units are protected and have the right to quiet enjoyment of their space. Your neighbors are allowed to live in an environment free from smoke and excessive disturbances. A good rule of thumb? Behave in a way that keeps whatever you’re doing, contained to your unit!
PARTIERS – keep the music volume to a reasonable level, and definitely keeping your bass down helps. Ask your guests to be mindful of their surroundings. Also, if you can hear it in the hallway, you can likely hear it in your neighbor’s home. SMOKERS – you must keep any odors contained to your unit! That could be as simple as keeping your windows closed, which when open can force odors into the hall and surrounding units. ALSO, smoking in the kitchen or bathroom (where you are in close proximity to exhaust vents) can help.
This includes marijuana. While you may be able to purchase and use it lawfully, the Association’s Rules still prohibit it from becoming a problem for neighbors. I like to think of it this way – someone can get a prescription for Lithium – or any other drug for that matter. However, that does not mean your neighbors need to be forced to ingest it.
The Park Tower rules address this on Pages 28 of the PTCA Rules handbook, under ‘DISTURBANCES‘, “…residents agree not to disturb or interfere with the comforts, rights, safety and quite enjoyment of other residents. Disruptive activity shall not be carried out within any residential unit or in the common elements, which may be or become an annoyance or nuisance to the other owners or occupants…Examples of a disturbance include but are not limited to: cigarette smoke, cooking and other noxious odors.”
Cigarettes and marijuana are even more directly addressed in the rules on Page 39, Under ‘SMOKING‘ “The release of smoke and other toxic gases and particles from cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, marijuana, and other tobacco products used in an individual unit that permeates any other unit or the common elements is hereby classified as a noxious or offensive activity pursuant to Paragraph 11(g) of the Declaration.”
SO, you might be thinking “That’s Great! But what should I do if I am suffering from my neighbor’s cigarette smoke or excessive music volume?”
During business hours, contact the office at 773-769-3250. When the office is closed, call the lobby front desk at 773-769-3083. Staff will be directed to the location. They will attempt to confirm what is going on at your door and may ask to enter if the odor (or noise) cannot be identified from the hallway. Whatever the conditions are at the time, our team will do their best to address the matter appropriately. Sometimes, they may be unable to verify the condition. Locating the source of cigarette smoke can be a challenge. And, cigarette smoke may dissipate by the time we are able to respond.
Whatever the conditions we are addressing, trying to make a determination is always somewhat subjective. So we ask that residents and owners understand that, have patience and let us do our best. We need to balance everyone’s right to live and function as individuals with everyone’s right to peaceably enjoy their homes. It can be a difficult balance. And especially with cigarette odors, it can be hard to trace and verify their source. Verified or not, the staff will generate an incident report which is submitted to Management for review and any necessary response.
ONCE A COMPLAINT IS VERIFIED….the office will issue a warning letter. If we get a second verified complaint, we will send a stronger warning letter. The third complaint will result in a “Notice Of Violation” to the Unit Owner. Keeping in mind, the complaint does need to be verified. The matter is forwarded to the Rules Commission and Board of Directors, and a hearing is offered at which the Owner may respond and even object to the allegations. Typically, if it reaches this point, and it is documented that the staff or security verified the complaints, the Owner will be fined. For noise the first fine is $50, and for smoking odors it is $250. That determination comes with another warning – should the event occur again, the fine will double. For noise to $100 and for smoking to $500…and then continue to double with any further incidents up to $1000 per incident should the conditions occur again.
In our experience, these fines rarely double. Once it hits someone’s pocketbook, behavior changes. Suddenly, such disturbances mysteriously stop occurring. SO, don’t put up with it. Let our team help!
IN A FEW CASES, we have had to go further and engage legal counsel. It is sad that we would have to waste time and resources to address bad behavior, but that is the next step and there are events even as we speak that the Association’s attorney is having to address to help protect neighbors rights. If the matter needs to be escalated, and the Board of Directors agree to it, a lawsuit to enforce the Declaration is a possible final step.
If you have any questions, or if you experience these types of problems, reach out. Just give us a call at 773-769-3250 or send the office an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are reporting a problem after hours, call the front desk directly at 773-769-3083.