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Condo neighbor with dementia hazard to self and others. Liability?

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  • Condo neighbor with dementia hazard to self and others. Liability?

    ​I am the owner-occupant of an upstairs condo unit that shares an exterior entry with a downstairs unit. When one steps in from outside, one is standing on a 42”x42” space with the exterior door behind them, the door of the downstairs unit to their right, and a flight of stairs to my door directly ahead. The outer door has a window,, and the interior doors have security peepholes. There is no fire escape, so this is my only point of entry and egress.

    The owner of the downstairs unit rents it out. The current tenant has always been intrusively nosy but now she has dementia and has gone from inappropriate to dangerous.

    I am not loud, but the building does make noises. There's an audible change in air pressure and a vibration when entry doors open and shut; the stairs creak slightly. Rather than look through the peephole, she throws her door open: "I heard something out here." This is a pretext to stop me (and anyone coming/going from my unit) and ask prying questions or just ramble at a captive audience for 20 minutes. She doesn’t just open the door. She steps or leans out into that tiny landing. There is no space to slide past her. There have been near collisions, some serious.

    For example, I gave her advance notice that people would be coming to haul away large appliances, and one should use care going in and out at that time. After work started, I heard shouts and came running. The neighbor was standing still at the base of the stairs, gawking. Two men carrying an electric range were on the stairs yelling at her to move. When she saw me, she said, "What's going on? Are you moving?" We couldn’t get her to move until we answered all her questions.

    When the pandemic struck, she started doing this without a mask in violation of state mandates and condo rules for the interior commons. Eventually, her family disclosed she has a form of dementia.

    I need to bring tradespeople in again. The tenant’s family led me to believe they had found a residential care facility and she would move this past summer. I delayed the work hoping to schedule it after she moved out, but she remained. They check on her frequently, but she still lives alone.

    Yesterday afternoon, I tried to take the trash out, and she blocked my exit for a good 15 minutes. I generally try to "sneak" the trash out in the middle of the night when she is sleeping, but that's not always possible.

    I can’t delay having tradespeople in forever, nor can I live my life entirely around her sleep schedule. Who will be liable when she stands in harm's way and gets injured or knees me or a delivery person in the head while we are bending over a package?

  • #2
    If you are in touch with the family I suggest you report these incidents to the family and advise them that you will call the police for a "wellness" check every time she accosts you. Remind them that the police can take a person against their will for a 72 hour psychiatric evaluation (true in most states, check yours). If the family doesn't respond immediately and this keeps happening start calling the police and reporting the behavior.

    There's no reason you have to live like this.


    • #3
      And if need be threaten to sue them all as well!


      • #4
        Have you tried to replace the doors in the apartment with better ones that do not make noise when used? I had such a problem with a neighbor who constantly cursed when I opened/closed the doors. I went to windows and doors Woodbridge. They replaced my doors and the neighbor stopped hearing me. I am pleased with their work and the fact that a neighbor lagged behind me.


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