We have a mentally ill homeowner who does not take his medication. His
screaming and rants are scaring other owners. Two owners have lost
tenants as a result. Young women in the complex are scared. Police and
security have been called countless times and say they can't do anything
because he has not threatened anyone. He stays up all night yelling,
screaming and using foul language. He is an owner and his family makes
sure his dues are current. Is there anything we can do??
From what you described, it is clear the parents are
warehousing their son in your association. You're a substitute for a
more costly mental institution.
? Some believe associations cannot take action because it would be deemed "discrimination" against the disabled and violate state and federal laws. While associations cannot discriminate against owners with a disability, it is also true that someone with a mental illness disrupt, threaten, and destroy
the quite enjoyment of others. Failure to address the problem will
result in reduced property values for units surrounding the mentally ill
resident. It could also result in a lawsuit against the association for
failure to stop the nuisance. There must be a balanced approach when this problem presents itself.
To properly address the issue, you
need to create a paper trail. Residents and management should keep logs
of their interaction with the
problem owner and submit them to the board so there is a record of the
seriousness of the problem. This can
then be used for everything that follows.
There are various social service agencies you can call that are
sometimes helpful. Counties generally have programs such as adult mental
health services and adult protective services. They can assist those
with physical, mental or developmental disabilities. Unfortunately, they
generally require the cooperation of the person with the problem, which
is not always forthcoming. If appropriate, authorities will sometimes place the person in a
72-hour psychiatric hold as provided for in Welfare & Institutions Code §5150
. Then, they are back on the street. Still, it's worth a try.
You might contact his family but even this has problems. Because of
medical privacy laws, you could find yourself in hot water if you
disclose private aspects of his medical condition to others. Even so, on
occasion I have sent carefully worded letters to parents that prompted
action. One resulted in removal of the problem child and sale of the
the polite avenues fail, the board can initiate disciplinary action.
The following steps should be followed: (i) send a cease and desist
letter, (ii) hold a hearing
and levy fines
, (iii) offer ADR
, and finally, (iv) file a lawsuit. Depending on the level of mental illness, steps one, two and three may have no effect on the person.
Even so, they are important for showing the court that the association exhausted all other avenues before taking legal action.
If you are forced to file a lawsuit, the complaint will be for breach
of the nuisance provision of your CC&Rs and possibly harassment
(depending on the circumstances). If the person poses a threat of harm to others, the association can seek a temporary restraining order
without notice to the opposing party. (Code Civ. Proc. 527(c).)
. With the facts you described, you will be seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction
The injunction would likely include a stay away order, an order to
cease creating a nuisance, and a communication protocol. Even then,
depending on his mental illness, he may not understand the order or, if
understood, unable to comply. That means you're back in court again.
You should also consider amending your CC&Rs to give the
association the right to evict tenants who violate the CC&Rs. This
is helpful when the problem person is a tenant.
You should work with legal counsel to address this difficult problem.
Unfortunately it will be slow and costly but you must follow the steps I
described if you hope to be successful.
: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us
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