Ms. Demeanor's Vertical Etiquette

Dear Ms. Demeanor: A renter in my building is verbally abusive to neighbors and management lets it slide. What can we do?

What can you do about a renter who hurls insults and picks fights with neighbors in the building?

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Question:

Dear Ms. Demeanor, There is a renter in our co-op who randomly insults other people in the lobby and stairwell. He has gotten into arguments with kids and is not a good guy. He is quite old and has lived in the building for a very long time. My neighbors and I have complained to our management company but nothing happens. What can we do? Signed, Tired of the Insults

Answer:

Dear Tired,

There is usually at least one annoying person in every building I have ever lived in. Currently, we have a (usually) sweet little old lady who frequents the bar across the street. On those days, she is not only not sweet but a really abusive drunk. Our doorman complained to his union and she was warned that the next time she behaved badly she would be fined! So far, the problem has been solved.  

Building management should speak to this individual immediately and tell him that his rude behavior is unacceptable. The fact that this man has lived in the building forever and is elderly, is, quite frankly, irrelevant. There is such a thing as house rules and he is clearly violating them. If your renter is a subletting, the shareholder should be informed immediately and the board could agree not to renew his lease. If he is rent stabilized, the building owner should be made aware of the situation. People in rent stabilized apartments are usually very motivated to follow the rules.

Most importantly, the management company should be helping in this situation, so do not give up or let them off the hook.

One thing to consider: It’s possible this person has an underlying medical or mental health issue. If this may be the case, his next of kin or emergency contact should be informed. While people in the building may be putting up with his behavior, the man could get into real trouble if he acts out in public.

So, in consideration of his safety—and yours— this issue should be resolved immediately. 

Ms. Demeanor


Dianne Ackerman is the new voice of reason behind Ms. Demeanor. She has lived in her Upper East Side co-op for the past 20 years and is the vice president of her co-op board. She is filled with opinions that she gladly shares with all who ask—and some who do not. Have something that needs sorting out? Drop her an email.