A plugged-in reader in need writes:

Where do people go who have had realtors – realtors of some prestige, paragons of real estate experience one might say – who seem to have hidden or ignored pertinent information on a property?

This is both scary and almost amusing tale of woe were it not for the all too serious consequences.

Say, for example, someone buys a condo in a two-unit building, agrees to all the conditions, then, after closing, is told by the other condo owner that other unit is an S&M, um, er, “chamber,” and the building is not suitable for children to occupy because strangers visit at odd hours and they’re not the sort of people who are good with children. Plus, the new owner had better seriously soundproof the unit and never, ever let the child use the shared yard, go down into the garage or help with the laundry because it’s near the “guest” room. Oh, yes, and the seller knew about this, um, “lifestyle.”

The seller’s realtor and the purchaser’s realtor claim no knowledge, “not our job to ask personal questions” sort of thing even if you did raise this exact question with your realtor, “This isn’t some S&M dungeon is it?” [Editor’s note: apparently a number of locked rooms below raised the question], besides, the seller has left the state and well, sorry, it’s a done deal, you own it.

Please keep in mind this isn’t meant as a condemnation of an S&M lifestyle, but rather an issue of disclosure and a serious concern. And yes, we have confirmed the sale. So, if you’ve successfully negotiated a similar situation, do you think you can help a reader out?

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Debtpocalypse

    Sue ’em.
    Back in the late-1980s, I remember the joke being that if you mis-dialed in the 415 area code, you were likely to reach a lawyer.
    Find one.
    Sue ’em.

  2. Posted by lyqwyd

    Lawsuit is probably the best thing to do here.
    You can also file a complaint with the Department of Real Estate ( but I would recommend talking to an attorney before taking any other steps.

  3. Posted by Skirunman

    Exactly, if the realtors did not disclose then sue them. You actually have a good chance of winning plus brokers have insurance for such issues. However, story does sound a bit fishy to me. First, it sounds like the buyer did not do all their due diligence on this property (caveat emptor) and secondly, most HOA agreements strictly prohibit such uses. Sue them and then sell and move on.

  4. Posted by Ça suffit

    If you want to file a complaint and sue, both, you will probably have to file the complaint first. Check with the Dept of Real Estate; they might not accept complaints regarding issues currently under litigation. (Which is not to say you need to wait to talk with a lawyer.)

  5. Posted by serenity now

    Read your purchase agreement. Mediation is likely the first step, followed by binding arbitration. Find a good attorney. Ask for advice from a licensed attorney. Do not seek help on a chat board.

  6. Posted by A.T.

    Agree the buyer will need a lawyer and likely a lawsuit (or two). Buyer needs to figure out what he/she wants – get out or stop the neighbor (or both).
    If the former, sue the seller and both realtors. You can sue the seller even though he/she has left the state – even better because it will be more inconvenient for them to litigate here from afar. Let’s put them all under oath and test that “we had no idea” notion and also depose the neighbor to see what sort of clear “evidence” the seller/realtors were “unaware” of.
    If the latter, sue for nuisance, violation of zoning (assuming this is a commercial enterprise) etc. This will be more difficult imho.

  7. Posted by GetLit SF

    This is either a joke or really sad. Realtors, at best, are a mixed bunch meaning there are good ones, bad ones and really bad ones. Their reps are highly dependent upon the clients they serve and thus the following rule should apply WITHOUT EXCEPTION: Never, ever hire an agent to represent you that has NOT been a referral from a trusted friend, a family member or a business associate. NEVER!

  8. Posted by Not Bashing

    Get a lawyer and go from there. No question.

  9. Posted by s&m

    Can we get an address?

  10. Posted by tipster

    Here’s what I would do:
    I would get the biggest frying pan you have and then hold it upside down, with both hands, straight out in front of you.
    Now, as hard as you can, smack yourself in the forehead with the frying pan, as you say this in your mother’s voice: “You bought a condo in a two unit building and didn’t talk to the other owner before you did it!?”
    It never ceases to amaze me just how ridiculous some people can be. With a little common sense, this could have been avoided.

  11. Posted by joerealtor

    Yes as an agent in SF I would agree that the seller very very most likely has some culpability here. I would consider this a material fact that was not disclosed to a buyer in contract. The question is proving that the seller knew about the circumstances in the other unit. Falls under the general disclosures of the TDS or transfer disclosure statement. Open paragraph for material facts….
    I do not know privacy laws, but what a neighbor does in their own unit, with whom, at what time, guests, et all is a gray matter of disclosure. I think there could be issues of slander and heresay if disclosing things too much on assumptions.
    However it would be appropriate to disclose noises beyond what is normal, if there were an abnormally high number of late night guests who add noise, etc. Nudity outside of the walls of the nighbors unit. It is not against the law for the neighbor to do this. As opposed to disclosing a neighbors house being a meth lab or something.
    Yes a contract will automatically call for mediation. Always a first good step. Arbitration would be the clause lower on the purchase contract and would need to have been agreed to by both parties.
    Talk to a lawyer. But there are definately some fuzzy legal questions here.
    Sorry to hear your story, wish you good luck

  12. Posted by Mole Man

    This probably doesn’t help much with this specific situation, but might prevent others like it: If your lifestyle is for whatever reason incompatible with others, then it might be best to identify that clearly at the start of the search. This idea that kids require isolation and should be allowed to roam about without guidance is actually just about as new and radical as the whole dungeon sex thing.

  13. Posted by Lori

    From a business perspective, if cash is being exchanged between people for services rendered, I believe they would need a business license of some sort. If they are licensed, then the realtor would have known about it; it should have been in the disclosure package. If it’s not licensed, they are going to have a lot of explaining to do and taxes owed to the city.

  14. Posted by [anon.ed]

    “This idea that kids require isolation and should be allowed to roam about without guidance is actually just about as new”
    In their parents’ own backyard? Nonsense.

  15. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    Um … wow. I believe this is an “only in San Francisco” sort of question. You could try and get money from the broker but the rest of the people in that transaction are likely long gone. Good luck and get ready to spend big on legal fees.

  16. Posted by shza

    MoleMan, that is a seriously ridiculous and unconstructive response. If we take the new owner at his word, he was told “by the other condo owner . . . that the building is not suitable for children to occupy,” and that the new owner should “never, ever let the child use the shared yard, go down into the garage or help with the laundry.”
    So this wouldn’t be a case of incompatibility with some kind of radically overprotective parenting style — the new owner was purportedly told that simply *having kids* was incompatible with living in the unit s/he purchased.
    Tipster’s advice is actually far more constructive than yours.

  17. Posted by Ashhole

    So should a seller report that their neighbor is a single professional woman who has at least 5 guys over every Saturday night? Is this a lifestyle choice that affects value?
    Or should a seller report that his neighbor is a Muslim and gets up every morning at 4 to pray. He hears chanting and water pipes at that hour due to all of his prayer “needs”?
    Or perhaps a seller should tell buyers that their neighbor likes to read Playboy and Hustler. He gets copies every month. Sometimes they find the magazines in the recyling bin in the garage.
    Let’s SUE!!!!

  18. Posted by [anon.ed]

    ^^^^^ That was all totally incompatible with the idea that children can’t play in their parents’ own backyard unsupervised. Not to mention the fact that Playboy and Hustler = apples and oranges.

  19. Posted by Mike

    Looks like the buyer did not do enough due diligences, I’m pretty sure a simple Google search would have come up with something. What if it was the other way around, that the broker did not disclose that the apartment below had the most noisy and screaming bunch of kinds in the whole f…g San Francisco that would spend day in and day out making noise in the apartment and on the shared yard – plus 2 barking small dogs. Would you be able to sue then? I don’t think so.
    [Editor’s Note: We did the simple Google search as part of our due diligence before posting, it didn’t raise any red flags.]

  20. Posted by Mike L

    Sounds like the other owners don’t like children and maybe made this story up. The owners and children should have every right to use the hallways/garage without fear. If people are coming in at strange hours and the sounds are keeping everyone awake, best course of action would be to file noise complaints, call police consistently, keep good records before taking them to court and sue. Someone’s alternative lifestyle is not ground’s to sue a former owner/real estate agent, other owners etc. However, frequent disturbances of peace may be grounds for a civil suit. I’d also install a security camera in an area that you own.

  21. Posted by noearch

    I like what ashhole had to say.
    Besides, kids should not go out to play unsupervised until they turn 18.

  22. Posted by Mark D.

    When they turn 18, they don’t need to go out and play, they can just go downstairs.

  23. Posted by boredatworktoday

    Non-disclosure suit against the seller for sure – though it sounds like he is out of state and possibly unreachable…
    A real estate seller has both a common law and statutory duty of disclosure. Where the seller knows of facts materially affecting the value or desirability of the property and also knows that such facts are not known to, or within the reach of the diligent attention and observation of the buyer, the seller is under a duty to disclose them to the buyer. Undisclosed facts are material if they would have a significant and measurable effect on market value.
    A seller’s duty of disclosure is limited to material facts; once the essential facts are disclosed a seller is not under a duty to provide details that would merely serve to elaborate on the disclosed facts. Where a seller fails to disclose a material fact, he may be subject to liability for nondisclosure since his conduct in the transaction amounts to a representation of the nonexistence of the facts which he has failed to disclose. Generally, whether the undisclosed matter was of sufficient materiality to have affected the value or desirability of the property is a question of fact. Likewise, whether or not the seller has actual knowledge of an undisclosed fact is a question of fact. A breach of this duty of disclosure will give rise to a cause of action for both rescission and damages.
    The statutory obligations are set forth in Civil Code section 1102 et seq. This specifies the information a residential property seller must disclose when transferring the property and identifies the form Transfer Disclosure Statement and mandates that the disclosures be made in “good faith” as defined as “honesty in fact in the conduct of the transaction.” (Civ. Code, § 1102.7.)

  24. Posted by A.T.

    I just read the post more closely, and this stands out:
    “even if you did raise this exact question with your realtor, ‘This isn’t some S&M dungeon is it?’ [Editor’s note: apparently a bunch of locked rooms below raised the question]”
    If the realtors said “no, nothing like that” then the buyer has a case. If they said, as it appears, “we have no idea.” Then the buyer loses, most likely – on notice and bought anyway. Plan B: read tipster’s post.

  25. Posted by Ugh

    Three words: Get a lawyer.
    Unfortunately. But good luck!

  26. Posted by SJnative

    @joerealtor sounds accurate to this long-time South Bay realtor. Our standard of care on the Peninsula/South is a 9-page Seller’s Checklist disclosure in addition to the mandated 3-page TDS. Noise/nuisance issues are included in the questionaire. But if a seller chooses to be dishonest he may end up in court on such non-disclosure issues. And should.

  27. Posted by ssmm

    Noearch should know — he lives in his Mom’s basement in Noe Valley if I remember correctly!!
    As for kids, of course they go out unsupervised — starting when they are about 12, 13 or 14 most kids in this city have their own bus pass, cell phone, etc.
    As for not checking out the neighbor in a two unit building, well the buyer is just stupid. Sorry folks, but you are CO-OWNING and practically CO-HABITATING if you share a two unit building with someone. You better get along or life just sucks for everyone.
    So, for our poor uninformed, under-represented buyer, either buy some leather or some ear plugs. ;-0

  28. Posted by Delancey

    Start interviewing real estate attorneys. Don’t go with the one that is all enthusiastic about jumping into court. You need experienced advice now. You can always switch to a hell-bent litigator later.
    Also, document everything, with date and time, while it is fresh and right after it happens. Especially your interactions with the other condo owner. Write it down–memory gets hazy and one misremembered detail can blow your opportunity to unwind this trap.
    Ultimately you are going to have to sue, and find which amongst the seller, seller’s broker, your broker, and other condo owner is the weakest and most likely to settle on the courthouse steps. There may also be a play with your mortgage holder, who has more clout than you and have to realize this is a potential jinglemail situation for you.

  29. Posted by sfrenegade

    “Sounds like the other owners don’t like children and maybe made this story up. The owners and children should have every right to use the hallways/garage without fear.”
    I’m surprised no one thought of this before Mike L. The right answer is do your investigation and get a lawyer to determine if there’s something actionable.
    Other than that, I don’t really disagree with anyone else except maybe Mole Man for the reason that fluj and shza mentioned.

  30. Posted by eddy

    This is more TMZ than RE in my opinion. But I’m not sure the buyer has much recourse here. Mike L seems to have the most logical response here where the new owner was ‘threatened’ by the unit below. If the ccrs allow for common usage of shared space than I don’t see what the issue would be here. Its probably also a little generalist to assume that all S&M participants are deviants and should be feared. I’d buy a high resolution webcam and camera and start taking pictures of everyone that enters the property and start a shame blog/website.
    Also, and I mean this seriously, why would you buy in a 2 unit buildning, or any building for that matter, and meet the potential neighbor. Seriously. I’ve done this on rentals and purchases every single time. And I’ve late night stalked every property I’ve ever purchased. And I’ve walked from deals as a result. Folks, this is not a small investment.
    Lastly, I really don’t think there is a lot to do here. Go ahead and sue, but you wouldn’t want me on the jury. The next person that bought the other unit could have very well setup the same shop. So long as its legal what is required to be disclosed is sketchy. But you could probably get a settlement from the seller and seller agent just to avoid litigation.

  31. Posted by G

    I am dealing with a similar but much less exciting version of the same story. We bought a 2 unit building with partners with the plans of converting to condos. The disclosures stated that all work was done with permits. We investigated and reviewed the permits, so we thought we were good. However, when we got the condo conversion inspection, the inspector identified some things that were done without permits, which is requiring us to file new permits and open walls. We are currently discussing if and who we should sue.

  32. Posted by Solis

    Were the “slaves” included in the sale, because if they were, that practice was abolished a long time ago. This would be grounds for leagal action!

  33. Posted by mep

    if a business is being run out of the other unit it should have been disclosed.

  34. Posted by condoshopper

    has it been stated that the s&m stuff is the actual problem in this new owner’s case, or was is it just used as an example? It says “Say, for example, someone buys a condo..”

  35. Posted by kathleen

    Disclose Disclose Disclose.
    There is never too much disclosure.
    A little bit of googling goes along way. 🙂
    I can’t think of one buyer who would not ask for a little 411 on the neighbors and the neighborhood as part of their decision making process.
    After closing, oh btw- there there is whipping and screaming going on in the middle of the night at decibles that require massive soundproofing, ITs not for the cries, it’s more for the thumping..for the music…define the reason.
    1) define the problem in terms that can be easily proven.
    1) Decide what you want.
    2) contact your agent, get contact details of the broker of record for the firm that helped you write your purchase contract. This can also be found on the DRE website.
    3) Review the mediation and arbitration clause in your purchase contract.
    4) Contact JAMS and/or a good RE lawyer fluent in litigation per #2.
    5) have JAMS and/or RE lawyer compose a complaint letter regarding #1 to the broker of record who represented you and identaicla one to broker who represented the seller.
    6) See if they offer you #1.
    Note: lots of different real estate companies are at their core part of one supersized national real estate company.

  36. Posted by sf

    Wow, it’s not YOUR yard, it’s a SHARED yard. Children should be supervised at all time in a SHARED yard. Geez. Worse than dog owners.

  37. Posted by litguy

    Sounds like the new neighbor was being intentionally inflammatory. Have you actually seen any of the “ongoings”?
    Assuming yes:
    Go talk to the folks in the buildings surrounding, be casual and chat do not mention “legal” or “problem” just seek information as a new neighbor. Not only do the other neighbors know what’s up with the sex condo but at least one of them knows what the seller had knowledge of. Neighbors talk and I bet you’ll be able to rustle up the sellers “knowledge” and probably find out that the seller not only knew but was trying to get away. If you get this you have a solid case.
    Lastly, is this Soma or Outer Sunset? Makes a big difference with disclosure and nuisance.

  38. Posted by Ashhole

    What I don’t understand is where the line gets crossed about what is factual and what determines if one party sees something as not a big deal and another does? At what point is the Seller becoming a discriminator that then opens them up to legal action with regard to discrimination? And how does that affect value? Intrinsic value or preceived value?
    What if the seller was a close friend and a participant in the S&M action. What should they disclose? The reason for my earlier post. If I’m a Muslim and have Muslim neighbors, do I disclose to every buyer that we pray at 4 in the morning? Maybe I’m missing the point. Is it because there are children involved? So would a family with kids pay less for that property if they knew it had an S&M den? Or would another couple with no kids pay more because they don’t care? Maybe that couple cares about the Muslims? I think it’s a tough call with a jury — but sue and let the insurance company pay you. Then try to sell your property with the S&M den disclosed on your disclosures!

  39. Posted by willy

    When you notice something that requires clarification (ie the locked rooms), don’t ask your realtor the question verbally – like in this case: “this isn’t some sort of S/M chamber is it”.
    Ask the question in writing and insist that the seller of the real estate respond to the question in writing.
    When your buyers ask questions, don’t say it is not our job to ask personal questions. Ask the buyer to put it in writing, then forward to the listing agent to send to the seller….make sure everyone gets the response and then put it in your file.

  40. Posted by Outsider

    Friends of mine a fews years ago bought a house in a Bay Area middle class town.
    Neighbor to the left was a contractor.
    Big trucks parked all over cul de sac blocking
    my friends’ and other neighbors’ driveway.
    Loud parties went on into late night.
    Beer cans and trash thrown into my friends’ yard.
    Six manacing pit bulls roaming the street.
    Contractor’s kids flew a gas motor radio control helicopter with massive 48″ rotor in cul de sac where little kids are present.
    Complaint to the police resulted in an obscenity filled confrontation.
    Friends’ car parked at their own driveway was set on fire a week later although contractor neighbor denied responsibility.
    Seller turned out was frequent guest to contractor’s parties.
    Realtors claimed ignorance to offenses.
    How’s that compared with a little S & M…

  41. Posted by Paul Hwang

    I believe that in this situation, the facts as they relate to traffic and noise would be material to the desirability or value of the property. When in doubt, disclose.
    However, many times people ask the demographic of a neighborhood and/or building.
    A prudent agent should be careful of what he or she says to be in compliance with fair housing.

  42. Posted by grumpy

    I think it was the realtors job to find out why so many doors were locked once the question was asked. Although it does not state how the question was answered. If it was not to ask personal questions, well that’s just bogus as it does not address the locked doors. The new buyer should have pressed the issue, but then again, hindsight is 20/20.

  43. Posted by realtor

    From the facts stated in the original posting (not all the comments), I would say they buyer is pretty well stuck. I’d be amazed if a lawsuit got the buyer anything more than a bunch of legal fees and a lot of frustration. It is possible the buyer would get a settlement from one of the brokerage houses — but only because it is god business for them to settle — not because the buyer really has much of a claim here.
    And, even if the buyer gets some small cash settlement, then what? They still own the place. I don’t see the deal being “undone” and the buyer being made whole based on the actual facts presented here.
    And, if the buyer now turns around to sell, well — all this now has to be disclosed.
    I think the only realistic thing is that both co-owners are obligated to live by the CC&Rs and/or house rules.

  44. Posted by El Bombero

    Caveat emptor. Only a real dope would buy an apartment in a two-unit condo without vetting the neighbor. Any loss or inconvenience will be well-deserved here.

  45. Posted by realtor

    And, one more thought — what are you doing buying a property without spending time there, meeting the co-owners, meeting the neighbors, etc. etc.???????
    I recently purchased a home in SF. I was concerned about the apartment building to the left because I knew it was rented primarily to students. (Nothing wrong with that — just not necessarily compatible with my middle-aged, family centered life style.)
    The home is also within a few blocks of some public housing. This tends to scare people off, but I didn’t know the reality of it, so I did the research.
    I spent lots of time in the neighborhood. I met neighbors. I knocked on some doors, and I asked a lot of questions. I did all this during the contingency period of the contract. I learned a LOT, and I decided to go ahead with the purchase. Everything has been fine. The college students next door have parties, but I knew that going in and decided that was OK. The public housing is a complete non-issue.

  46. Posted by redseca2

    When buying into a two unit building, I would be much more interested in the owners/tenants of the other unit than the brand of the stove or fridge in the kitchen. I can replace a bad stove or fridge with a credit card, but the co-owners have the right to be there forever.
    That said, I can’t help wondering if something was left out of the description, namely that the unit purchased had a fractional value compared to the one with deeded torture rooms. Having mystery locked doors in a building where the value of my unit was within 5 or 10% of the other unit would cause all sorts of red flags. Like where are my doors to my basement spaces to lock? And buying a unit where the other unit is dramatically more valuable raises all sorts of other red flags for me because of the implied sense I could be out- voted on everything.

  47. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    Can’t anyone see this is obviously a troll post? Seriously, pictures or it never happened.
    [Editor’s Note: You’re welcome to your opinion, but unfortunately in this case it’s incorrect.]

  48. Posted by bobo

    Outsider: Sounds like your friends next door to the contractor, have themselves the makings of a great country western song. (I’d find the closest motorcycle clubhouse, cut a deal to straighten this clown out, and enjoy your next new neighbor in the contractor’s former house.)

  49. Posted by lowerHaighter

    I have a question about meeting and vetting the potential neighbors in a two unit building. How does one go about meeting them? We are looking at a place, and can’t decide if we need to approach the other unit ourselves, or have our agent setup the meeting. Is there a protocol here?

  50. Posted by Outsider

    bobo: Collapse of the residential construction industry took care of those wonderful human beings. I am sad to think they are somewhere else torturing other unsuspecting families.

  51. Posted by ashhole

    To my point — when is a seller discriminatory with disclosure information?
    >>>Lastly, is this Soma or Outer Sunset? Makes a big difference with disclosure and nuisance.
    Is SOMA more into S&M (e.g., Folsom Street) than the Outer Sunset?
    I guess they could have disclosed “neighbors use extra bonus room in basement for biz purposes and have “clients” coming at various hours and days.”

  52. Posted by sfrenegade

    “We are looking at a place, and can’t decide if we need to approach the other unit ourselves, or have our agent setup the meeting. Is there a protocol here?”
    Prospective Buyer: “Knock knock”
    S&M Neighbor: “Who’s there?”
    PB: “Your new prospective neighbor.”
    S&MN: “Your new prospective neighbor who?”
    PB: “Your new prospective neighbor who doesn’t approve of your lifestyle and doesn’t want his/her kids near you.”
    Seriously, is this a real question? Use common sense.

  53. Posted by tipster

    Lowerhaighter, No protocol, but I would add an inspection contingency and knock when you have an accepted offer.
    And here is a hint for you: your agent is being paid by the seller only if the deal closes. If your agent sets up the meeting, even Adolph Hitler II will look like a saint. Keep your agent OUT of it.
    Grow a pair and knock on the door or be prepared to be very unhappy and lose a lot of money because you were so worried about knocking on one door. You’re going to be making a lot of decisions with this person: if you can’t work with them, you need to know now. If they are offended by a knock on the door, run the other way.
    Your agent is a salesperson, not your mother. You are on your own. Protect yourself, or buy a frying pan and be prepared to use it on your own forehead.

  54. Posted by gabazillion

    Just hire someone to approach each and every person entering the other unit asking for their name and address for a coupe of weeks.

  55. Posted by noearch

    To the buyer:
    1. Knock on the damn door of your neighbors.
    2. Ask a lot of questions.
    3. There is no “protocol”. You’re not attending the Queens dinner.
    4. Stop acting stupid.
    5. Stop letting your agent act as your nanny.
    6. Investigate. Investigate. Investigate.

  56. Posted by LowerHaighter

    thanks all for your frank comments.
    I’m a first time buyer, so thanks!

  57. Posted by TribeMaster

    Buying a condo in a small association brings with it a higher level of intimacy. Common sense tells me that you, mr/ms buyer, didn’t do your homework which I am confident you had plenty of opportunity to do…any standard purchase contract outlines that in plane english. I get a sense that the description of this situation was carefully crafted to bend sympathies toward the self-inflicted pain. Perhaps this is more a question of your personal and closeted SMish lifestyle surfacing. Heck, one gets more attention by pointing fingers at a seller or the agents involved. It’s so much easier to blame everyone else versus pausing and evaluating your role in the mistake that you made. It appears you want validation to run and sue and it apears you are getting that here…congratulations. Go spend a ton of money with an attorney that’s going to tell you what you want to hear. Sue everyone in hopes of getting a little from everyone to make your frivolous claim go away. You are on a roll with dumb decisions already. Make your life more miserable. Plain and simple, YOU choose the wrong property. Suggestion: even if you claim bad allergies, don’t remove your thick padding and carpeting. Wether your downstairs neighbor makes noise or the next neighbor has a screaming fish, you will want as much soundproofing as possible. But then again, go ahead and remove the carpeting…that falls in line with your dumb behavior.

  58. Posted by MCM

    I’m the original “tipster” who wrote in on behalf of the buyer who did, in fact, meet the other owner, emailed, and spoke to him on the phone before any bid was made. The owner of the other unit met the child, knew a child was moving in and never once mentioned anything except concern that the kid might run around and make noise to disturb him. The S&M practitioner had six weeks to take the parent aside and mention why he was really concerned about noise.
    I am gratified to find how many knowledgeable people agree on the direction this must take and growing accustomed to what seems to be the overwhelming opinion that lawyers must be involved. Justice comes with all kinds of costs and being right is no guarantee that justice will win out.

  59. Posted by tipster

    Then, I’d sue them both, MCM. Sue the other owner for violating the condo rules and creating a nuisance and operating a business without a license. I think a jury is going to have a bigger problem with the neighbor who didn’t say anything than the seller.
    And i’d dig very hard to try to find out if the neighbor was “prepped” by the Realtor. Get the phone records of both of them. If so, I think the realtor gets completely nailed.

  60. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    It is a little disturbing that some posters feel that buyers are obliged to vet their neighbors for negative behaviors which should have been obvious to the owner. Sure, it is a good idea to investigate before closing a deal and most savvy buyers on this site would have done that. But it shouldn’t be expected of a buyer especially for grossly obvious conditions.
    What is the buyer supposed to do, interview the neighbors with twenty questions?
    “Do you frequently cook up a batch of sauerkraut that stinks up the whole building?”
    “um, ok … do you frequently cook up a batch of soy sauce that stinks up the whole building?”
    “Do you sunbathe in the nude?”
    “Are you a drug dealer?”
    “Do you have a tesla coil that causes the cooking pots on this unit’s induction stovetop to levitate when you switch it on?”
    “Do you run a s&m dungeon that draws strangers to the building at all hours?”
    “Um … I can see that you’re a little uncomfortable with these questions but please know that I’m obliged to ask for this info because I cannot rely on what the seller tells me. Lets continue, only a few dozen more questions to go …”
    But is really disturbing is the notion that teenagers shouldn’t be allowed out unsupervised until they reach the age of 18 🙂

  61. Posted by vanillablue

    I own in a 2-unit condo building now. If someone showed up claiming to be interested in buying the other unit, and started asking me a bunch of questions about my persona life, finances etc., I’d tell them to get the hell out. It’s easy to admonish the buyer here for not asking enough questions, but think this through: what exactly is he supposed to ask, and what obligation does the owner of the other unit have to answer them?

  62. Posted by [anon.ed]

    “Wow, it’s not YOUR yard, it’s a SHARED yard. Children should be supervised at all time in a SHARED yard. Geez. ”
    Shared with only one other unit. Depends upon how old the child is, of course, but come on.

  63. Posted by Cal Housing Bull

    Definitely get an attorney with RE experience — start there. And don’t shop for an attorney that will tell you what you want to hear — but an attorney that will tell you like it is even if he / she tells you things you may not want to hear.
    The other issue is proving that the sellers or agents knew. For your situation — make sure to investigate any possible history of calls to the police about noise, complaints filed with the city, and other ways you may have a firm paper trail that the sellers knew. I would do this first — and if you have it then definitely sue.
    Also ask yourself what do you want to achieve — Lawsuits become emotional and the best advice in any suit is to keep focused on your specific goals (e.g. would you stay there if the neighbor moved, would you be happy if you were made whole or 80% whole on any loss in selling the place). If your goal is to get even, then stop and re-thing suing. You won’t get even even if you win. Setting a tangible goal will save a lot of time and headaches. (and time in attorney speak = $$$$$ billed).
    I will also say surround yourself with a few friends who will force to keep all items in perspective. I have had two very nasty suits in my life and in both I let my emotions take over and the suits take over my life. I won them both but would have won a lot more in terms of the big picture if I had settled them earlier in the process and not let them take over my life. In the end it is only a place not your life or what defines you and my view no one wins in a lawsuit — even the prevailing party.

  64. Posted by Zouaf

    Is it odd to suggest a less litigious course of action? My first step would be speaking with the neighbors, explaining that children will be living in the building and you’d rather them not see/ hear anything inappropriate. Explain as well that you don’t plan on soundproofing the condo, so if they plan on making an unreasonable amount of noise they should do the soundproofing. It’s completely unreasonable for another owner to attempt to ‘ban’ children from the building. Granted, this could cause some tension. But you can’t let bullies get away with this stuff.
    Or is it hopeless naive of me to think this?

  65. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    Zouaf, yes it is hopeless naive of you to think that. The other owner will likely say “we were here first. Go get bent, breeder!”

  66. Posted by willy

    the irony is that the kid(s) will probably be far more difficult to live with than the S&Mer. And of course, a dog won’t be far behind if they don’t have one already.
    I thought a football team and a pack of dogs moved in next door to me…and then I found out it was one boy and a hound. It is hard to put into words how intrusive and annoying they are….running, jumping, falling, banging, slamming, yelling, barking – for hours on end – and the worst part is that you have no idea when he is going to slam something so it is always alarming.

  67. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    No comment on the pooch annoyance but I tend to cut kids a little slack since none of us could be here without passing through childhood. That is until Tyrell industries gets the kinks worked out of their product line.

  68. Posted by Eddy

    @get lit, the pic accompanying your reblog is hysterical.

  69. Posted by sfrenegade

    The owner of the other unit met the child, knew a child was moving in and never once mentioned anything except concern that the kid might run around and make noise to disturb him.
    MCM’s comment makes Mike L’s comment above more likely.
    Zouaf, yes it is hopeless naive of you to think that. The other owner will likely say “we were here first. Go get bent, breeder!”
    Yes, although being first doesn’t always give you legal protection against being a nuisance, for example.

  70. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    @willy — if you don’t like having kids around you, go and live in a cave. In the real world people have kids, and those kids run around and play. All day long. … grow up, seriously.

  71. Posted by willy

    @jimmy – some parents do nothing to control the behavior of their kids, or they put them in situations that are not appropriate. If you don’t get this statement, then there is a 99.9% chance you are one of those parents.
    I never said kids are all bad or they don’t belong around me, etc.
    Learn to read, seriously.

  72. Posted by wheelchairgirl

    I’m amazed that I’m the first person to be saying this, but…
    As someone with a little familiarity with the S&M crowds, I’m kind of surprised at the downstairs neighbor’s behavior. Most of the kinky people I know like their privacy for their sex and some of their hobbies, but would not describe themselves as “not good with children”. Nor are most of them silly enough to be actively playing, or in any violation of the law or basic decency, in a shared garden or laundry area. As for guests, most of the professional “hosts” I know expect their guests to have the basic skills necessary to handle running into a six-year-old on the sidewalk.
    Then again, they don’t have a lot of locked rooms in their houses, either. Sure, the bedroom and/or playroom door locks, and there might be a lock on some of the cabinets (especially in houses which have children of their own). But most kinky people aren’t “ashamed” of what they do, either. (They may want privacy, especially if they work in a profession where kinky sex is frowned on – but there’s a big difference.)
    So this smells fishy to me.
    However, if this were already a court case and I were on the jury, I’d also be a little concerned that this was prejudice or mis-representation on your part. I’ve seen good, decent people who happen to like kinky sex lose jobs, friends, and family members to some outdated prejudicial attitudes. (Your phrase “um, ‘lifestyle’ ” – would you dare say that about a gay man who liked to have lots of boyfriends over and play loud music late at night? They may both be annoying or even actionable neighbors, but any San Francisco jury may (and in this case should) contain a few people with knowledge of the leather/kink community and its practices. While I’m put off by the neighbor’s late disclosure, I’m also worried about your attitude.
    So call some lawyers and research your options. Meanwhile, have a backyard barbecue some nice afternoon and invite the neighbors. See what happens.

  73. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    When we were house shopping in San Francisco in 2001, we found a place in Potrero Hill that really seemed to be a good price. We toured it and it was roomy, a bit dated, but still a good deal for what it was. We noticed the layout was kind of odd with all the bedrooms in back and the front room set up as some kind of storage area and quizzed the realtor extensively about why the price was good and the unusual layout, but he denied any knowledge.
    But we still thought something seemed fishy, especially with the price a good 20% lower than we thought it should be based on comps and it just sitting unsold in a hot market.
    So we started talking to the neighbors:
    “Hi, we are looking at the house next door, what do you think of the neighborhood?”
    “Oh, it’s terrible, we wish we could afford to move.”
    “Oh? Why is that?”
    “Big trucks start coming and going at 4 AM and slamming their doors right in front of our house.”
    What we hadn’t yet noticed was that there was a UPS loading terminal right around the corner. Of course Sunday 2-4 it was closed. But it was a major inconvenience to the neighborhood. We probably would have discovered it anyway in our walking around the neighborhood, but I thought it was pretty disingenuous of the realtor to deny any knowledge of it. When I mentioned it to him, he just said “Oh really?” and smiled.
    So yeah, do your own due diligence. I don’t really know what more the buyer could have done here.

  74. Posted by sfrenegade

    “but any San Francisco jury may (and in this case should) contain a few people with knowledge of the leather/kink community and its practices.”
    Why “should” an SF jury contain people with knowledge of leather/kink any more than an SF jury should contain people with knowledge of bank robberies?

  75. Posted by Rexie Brown

    Um, the issue is the buyer gave notice that he intended to tear out the carpeting in his unit, which would might expose the buyer and his son to noisy sex play. The buyer’s violation of the CC&R (which requires carpeting) triggered this episode. Not the realtor, not the downstairs neighbor. The buyer violated the agreement, the downstairs neighbor explained the likely consequences, and the unbalanced buyer defamed the downstairs neighbor in an online temper tantrum. I’d really like to know the name of the woman he hired to spread his vitriol across the internet. She should be ashamed of herself.
    So, to answer your question, I’d advise the buyer of any condo to accept accountability for his actions and to abide by the CC&R. I’d further advise the buyer in a situation like this to do what it took to work out an agreement with their new neighbor rather than hiring someone to defame him via social media. It’s chilling that this buyer, a vicious bully, is raising a child.

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