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6 COOPERATORNEWS CHICAGOLAND   —SPRING 2022  CHICAGO.COOPERATORNEWS.COM  Mental Health Issues in Multifamily Communities  Compassion, Respect, & Avoiding Liability   BY MIKE ODENTHAL  Running a community association re-  quires boards and managers to work with  spoke with several management profes-  people from all walks of life, including those  sionals and attorneys across the country to  with special needs, the prescription is pa-  who have unique experiences, wants, needs,  get some insight into how community ad-  and challenges. That requirement also in-  cludes  residents  living  with  behavioral  or  support residents living with behavioral or   mental health issues—and thanks to the  mental health issues.  pandemic and all the chaos and upheaval   that came with it, more people than ever   fit that description. In some cases, a resi-  dent may be quite open with neighbors and   others about a diagnosis in effort to create  many resources to  help  people  with  these  it can immediately create a problem for that   awareness within their community and de-  fuse confusion or concern, should they ex-  perience symptoms. But in other instances,  step, despite being the first. Mandating that  type of reaction they’ll have or how they’ll   behavioral or mental health challenges can  help often requires there to be a significant  respond to a request, I’d suggest that the   be undiagnosed or undisclosed, in which  problem, but when you do have one, then  manager always get clear instructions from a   case the board or management may be per-  plexed as to how to deal with an individual  issues often come down to proving a nui-  whose behavior is unpredictable, erratic or  sance, which usually requires an abundance  And I would make sure that the insurance   disruptive.   Regardless of  the specific scenario, all  owners, as well as a good attorney.  residents deserve to be treated with dignity   and respect—and that mandate starts with  personal life is a common one in condos and  lem or disability, there may be an Americans   boards and management. When behavioral  similar communities. We have had to rely on  With Disabilities \[Act\] (ADA) issue. And   or mental health factors are objectively in  local authorities to help ensure that the asso-  play, an association may find itself liable for  ciation can maintain the common elements,  nosis for that, by the way. You can have a   damages should they fail to treat a resident  but scheduling and communication can go a  doctor’s note \[verifying the disability\], but   with the appropriate care.   CooperatorNews    long way toward minimizing stress for most   ministrators can appropriately address and   Christopher R. Berg, President of Indepen-  dent Association Managers, Inc., in Naper-  ville, Illinois  “The local health departments have  the scope of what the board tells them to do,   types of challenges, but getting some people  managing agent. So in dealing with a dif-  to request that help can be the most difficult  ficult resident, where you don’t know what   the municipality will step in. Most smaller  board, and always have a witness with them   of  complaints  and  reports  from  multiple  for both board and manager is up to date   “The fear of intrusion into a resident’s   people. Regardless, when helping residents   tience – and it should be taken regularly.”  Ira S. Goldenberg, Esq., a partner with   Goldenberg & Selker, LLP, in White Plains,   New York  “I’ve seen managing agents fail to under-  stand that they’re acting at a board’s direc-  tion. When a managing agent acts beyond   whenever they go out to visit such a resident.   and covers this type of situation.  “If there’s a legitimate mental health prob-  you don’t necessarily need a formal diag-  sometimes there’s a grey area where some-  one may have a disability and be claiming   an accommodation—and at least initially, a   board or manager \[should\] be guarded and   take that claim seriously. Emotional sup-  port animals is always a prudent example.   We had a resident who owned two pets, and   we asked them why they needed the second   one, they said that the first emotional sup-  port animal itself needed an emotional sup-  port animal. You don’t get to have two!  “There are various government agencies   that might be of assistance, and you do have   the option to call those in. But the problem   there is that they’re often reluctant to get   involved, and the person in question has to   want them to come in. It has to be a volun-  tary thing, unless there’s something quite   terrible going on.  “And if there are clear rule violations, you   might want to turn that over to the boards’   attorney to start taking action. In an extreme   situation with a truly ill person, you can file   for an Article 81 guardianship, which means   that you pursue a court-appointed guard-  ian to take over that person’s affairs. That’s a   much more involved, time-consuming, pub-  lic procedure, and the person might resist.   But if you are successful in having a guard-  ian appointed, then the board or manager   only has to deal with the guardian from then   on, rather than the individual.”  Jeanne Eberhardt, a property manager at   Casagmo in Ridgefield, Connecticut  “Having been the on-site employee   property manager of 307 units for the last   11 years, I have had to deal with residents   and owners with mental health and cogni-  tive issues. Fortunately, being on site, I am   essentially the face of Casagmo, along with   an awesome staff of one other office admin-  istrator and two maintenance persons. But it   all helps when dealing with residents.  “We had someone who was once very   reclusive, handing in their common charges   to the office with barely a word. Then sud-  denly, about three years ago, they woke up   a  completely  different  person.  Elderly  and   with a lot of energy, they were somewhat   disheveled, but extremely articulate, and   this person is now known not only in our   community but throughout the town by first   name only, like a rock star. It’s been common   knowledge that this person deals with men-  tal health issues, and they had the memory   of an elephant, so it was easy to notice—and   MANAGEMENT  continued on page 14

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