Living in an Omaha condominium, like all condominiums, is like living in an apartment complex. One of the problems with condominium living is that you have neighbors on the other side of your exterior walls or immediately above or below you. As a result, obnoxious behavior by a next-door neighbor can have negative effects on your ability to enjoy your condominium in a peaceful way. Your neighbor might play loud music, smoke, have loud fights or harass you when you see the neighbor on the elevator or in the hallway.
What does a condominium unit owner do to protect itself from this obnoxious behavior? The first thing a condominium unit owner would do, and should do, is to ask the condominium Association to stop this behavior. However, the condominium Association will typically say that this dispute is a neighbor-to-neighbor problem, and is not the Association’s responsibility.
The Association is wrong. A typical condominium Declaration (sometimes called a Master Deed) says:
“No nuisance shall be allowed in or on the Condominium nor shall any use or practice be permitted which is a source of annoyance to the residents or which interferes with the peaceful enjoyment or possession of the Condominium or the Units.”
You can see how these obnoxious behaviors are a nuisance, an annoyance and interfere with the peaceful enjoyment and possession of the condominium unit. In the condominium Declaration then, the Association has the ability to stop these behaviors.
What if the Association refuses to act even though it has the ability to do so, and has received an owner demand to act? Again, you would look at the condominium Declaration. A typical condominium Declaration says that not only does the Association have the ability to enforce this “no nuisance” clause (as well as other clauses), but also the unit owners on their own can enforce the no nuisance clause.
That’s not all.
If a condominium Association fails to enforce a restrictive covenant (such as the no nuisance covenant), or tries to enforce an illegal restrictive covenant, the condominium Association can be sued under the federal Fair Housing Act for this action and be liable to a condominium unit owner for damages incurred by the condominium unit owner because of this action or failure to act.
In fact, an Omaha condominium Association was sued by an owner about 10 years ago for a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act. The condominium Association lost this lawsuit and had to pay the condominium unit owner over $100,000.