Category Archives: Rules Enforcement

Condo’s No Parking Rules Ignored by Unit Owners Including Board President

K.J. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

There is a spot near my garage which is marked “No Parking”. If someone parks there, it is very difficult if not impossible to maneuver my car into my garage. Additionally, it narrows the driveway in our parking lot so that other cars have trouble going around the lot. Sometimes a neighbor will have a guest park there because the guest is too lazy to park in visitor parking which is about fifty feet away. One of my neighbors parks there weekly because it’s just more convenient than her garage. That neighbor is president of the condo complex. I have complained to her about “people” parking in that spot and she says “You’re right they shouldn’t” and then the same day SHE parks there. What should I do?

Mister Condo replies:

K.J., all you can do is complain loudly and often each and every time the “No Parking” rule is violated. The president of the Board is not exempt from the rules of the association and should be reported for each and every time she violates the rule as well. Presidents who feel they do not need to follow the rules of the association have no business serving as officers of the association and I would not hesitate to point that out at the next election cycle when she is running for reelection. If she isn’t going to follow the rules how can she be expected to enforce the rules, a primary duty of the Board? Other than that, it sounds like you have a series of unit owners and guest who just don’t care about the parking rules and how their violation of those rules inconveniences other community members. The world is full of rude and ignorant people; sounds to me like a fair number of them reside in your association. The rules are on your side; well-mannered residents are not. Keep complaining. It may get better; it may not. All the best!

Condo’s “Backyard” Cannot be Used to Walk Dogs

T.B. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our association has a rule that dogs are not allowed in our backyard near the River. Can they prevent me from using my backyard for my dogs?

Mister Condo replies:

T.B., they absolutely can restrict use of the common grounds as it applies to pets. Many condo unit owners are under the impression that the land that surrounds their units is theirs to use as they see fit. That is rarely the case. In fact, the association owns all of the common land within the association. That includes the land behind your unit which you refer to as your backyard. Since the association owns the land, they make the rules. If the rule is that you can’t use the common area for your dogs, then that is the rule. You can ask the Board for an exception but it is unlikely that they will agree. I hope you can find a suitable solution to your pet problem. Good luck!

Previous Condo Board Failed to Incorporate New Rule

B.R. from Maine writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

A condo board passes a new rule but fails to incorporate it into the existing list of rules & regulations. Board members change. New Board finds the ‘changed’ rules in a review of minutes. Are these changed rules still valid or were they terminated when they weren’t published in the rules & regs?

Mister Condo replies:

B.R., the vote on the rule change stands, in my opinion. If the seated Board had the authority to create the new rule and passed it properly, I don’t see why it would be invalid. It isn’t enforceable until it is properly incorporated into the governing documents and unit owners are notified, so it is basically unenforceable until that is done. And, like any rule, the current Board can rescind or modify or remove it. It really comes down to the practicality of implementing the rule after all this time. The current Board should decide to either adopt it and incorporate it or repeal it and let it go away. All the best!

Irresponsible Dog Owner Concerns Condo Residents

L.H. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

We are senior citizens who have filed 10 complaints about a resident who does not leash his German Shepherd dog in the common areas, e.g., hallways, elevator, garage. We live in the same building as this resident. The CCR’s require all dogs to be on a leash. The HOA stated the attorney is working on our issue. They have yet to levy a fine on this resident. It has been 8 months and the resident is verbally abusive to us. What can we do?

Mister Condo replies:

L.H., I am sorry that you have such an irresponsible pet owner in your association. Honestly, it sounds like you can do all you can do. Once the association attorney is involved, it is up to the Board and the attorney to take the next steps. Hopefully, this dog will not attack you or any other unit owner before the dog’s owner leashed the dog and follows the rules. Sometimes, you just get a jerk living in an association. This is one of those times. If the verbal abuse continues, call the police. Protect yourself as best you can. My guess is that the attorney’s involvement will help correct the situation. Good luck!

Aggressive Behavior in the Condo Laundry Room

S.W. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

My condo has a rule that allows people to remove clothes from a washing machine after the machine has finished without a grace period. I have witnessed people keeping laundry in the machine overnight but when I happened to receive a short call (ten minutes) and returned for my clothes they were removed. Isn’t that legally called the tort of conversion?

Mister Condo replies:

S.W., you’d have to ask an attorney (I am not one) if this un-neighborly action qualifies as a tort of conversion. I guess your clothes would have to have been stolen, not just removed from the machine for there to have been an actual crime committed. Even then, I don’t know if there is a writ of “habias clothesius” that should have been served… JPardon my joke, as I am sure you were not happy to find your clothes removed from the washing machine. If another unit owner violated an association rule, all you can do is report it to the Board or Property Manager. Of course, if you don’t know who did it, there is almost nothing you can do. It’s too bad that people have so little respect for your personal property but you might want to consider delaying future phone calls for the short amount of time you need to keep an eye on your laundry. That way, no one can mess with your stuff when you’re not around. Good luck!

Condo Board Enforces Parking Rules After 20 Years!

J.M. from Florida writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I have been living in my community for the last 20 years. Never have I had a problem with parking before. All of our units are single building divided into three town homes with a three-car, three-door, non-divided open garage. My garage section isn’t very big especially being completely open on the inside, it would be impossible to have three vehicles parked inside with the ability to get in and back out. I have things stored in my garage as any normal town home living person does leaving me unable to put a vehicle in the garage. There has been a new resident that moved onto our street in our gated community. Since his arrival he has joined the board for parking reasons and is causing nothing but problems this past year. I live in a two-bedroom unit with my wife and son. We have always parked one vehicle behind the other putting two in our driveway. The Board is trying to tell me that I can’t park two vehicles together anymore, one behind the other or they’re going to tow it. They even went as far as to paint yellow lines for parking limitations only for my building and the adjacent neighbors building. The rest of the entire community has no painted lines. There is a very big parking lot one street over from us that is guest parking for the pool and the clubhouse. They are telling us that we cannot park in guest parking. There is no other overflow owner vehicle parking anywhere else in the community. Even if I clear my garage that only takes care of two vehicles. Having three vehicles they’re trying to tell me there is no place I can park it that is acceptable. It has gotten to the point that me and my family are being severely harassed over this matter. Since I have been here for over 20 years does any kind of grandfathered rules apply? Don’t they have to provide some kind of overflow parking for residents since all the guest parking spots they say are not usable for resident vehicle? I am close friends with my neighbors in our building that are only here 4 months out of the year and they allow us to use their two spaces when they’re not here. They’re coming back very soon and before this turns into a huge legal matter, I want to know what my options are and how to fight back. Thank you so much for any kind of response or information you can provide me with. We are located in St. Petersburg, Florida (the Sunshine State).

Mister Condo replies:

J.M., I feel your pain but I don’t think you’re going to like my reply. Generally speaking, the association owns the parking areas in most condominium associations. That means that they make and enforce the rules dealing with parking. I am painfully aware of the notoriously small parking spaces you speak of. Maybe two cars and a golf cart would fit but three full-sized cars are not likely to fit. That being said, that isn’t the Board’s problem or concern. notoriously small parking spaces you speak of. Maybe two cars and a golf cart would fit but three full-sized cars are not likely to fit. That being said, that isn’t the Board’s problem or concern. You have what you have, no more, no less. The association is under no obligation to provide you with any additional parking and your deed likely doesn’t guarantee it either. Additionally, many associations prohibit the type of open storage of belongings you describe. In other words, carports and garages are for parking only. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Board enacts and enforces a rule prohibiting storage in the garages so be ready. The bottom line is that the Board has many powers given to them by the association’s governance documents and state law. If you feel they have overstepped and can back it with provisions of your governing documents, you should seek legal counsel to see if you can fight back. Other than that, your 20-years of using the parking garage as you saw fit rather than how the by-laws read was a bonus for you. I am not aware of any provision that grandfathers in breaking of the rules because it suits you. You can always seek out a seat on the Board yourself as your neighbor has done and see if you can make the changes you seek from within the Board but understand that service on the Board involves much more than just your personal parking issues. I wish you all the best!

Condo Unit Owner’s Grievances Go Unenforced by Board

J.C. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I have filed many grievances with my condo over four years and they did state they received them with no response. Is this discrimination? How long do they have to respond to my grievances?

Mister Condo replies:

J.C., I am sorry that you have found reason to submit may grievances with your association over the past four years. Many unit owners enjoy their condo living experience and never have to file even a single grievance. The Board is obligated to acknowledge receipt of your grievance, which they have. Your grievance is actually now a record of the association. Any actions they take (or don’t take) are supposed to be reflected in the Minutes from the Board meetings where the grievance was received. However, the Board is not typically under any obligation to take specific action on your (or any other unit owner’s) grievance. It is at their discretion for the most part. That can be particularly annoying for folks like you who have purchased into the association with an expectation that rules will be followed by fellow unit owners and violations will be enforced by the Board. As democratically elected representative of the association, Board members are subject to removal from office either at an annual election or as part of a recall election. However, that requires a majority of unit owners to want them out of office and new members elected. If you are a minority of one in your grievances, you might find it difficult to garner support for new Board members, especially if your fellow unit owners are happy with the way things are. Now, if the Board is enforcing rules against some, but not all, unit owners, that is a different story. If you feel you are being discriminated against, I would suggest you speak with an attorney. Other than that, you are certainly free to continue filing your grievances but I wouldn’t expect the Board to behave any differently until there are some new Board members more motivated and willing to take action against the rule breakers. All the best!

Feeling Singled Out For Condo Parking Violation

S.B. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I received a letter from the management company that told me that I had to park my car centered back to front and side to side and I was not on the line or over the line or the next time I would get fined and I have taken pictures of other parking violations to show the management company. I feel that I was singled out and others park on the line and I was told that unless the trustees tell the management company to send these people a letter there is nothing that can be done. Is this true or should I talk to a condo lawyer? How is it I get a threating letter and others don’t?

Mister Condo replies:

S.B., you may have been singled out or you may have just been the only one who was reported as making a violation. Parking lots are always hot topics at condominiums and HOAs because there is often a shortage of spaces for the number of vehicles parked by residents and guests. How will you prove that you were singled out? Is there a pattern of discrimination or harassment? If you feel you have a legal complaint against your Board, you can pursue a legal solution. Have you spoken with a local attorney? That is who will give you the legal opinion about whether or not you have a case. My friendly advice is that you park as required by your condo’s rules and regulations. Report and document any parking violations you witness and send your complaints to the Board or Management Company. If they take action only against you, you may have a case. Otherwise, it may just be a simple one-time warning that you needn’t worry about too much. Good luck!

Making Condo Unit Owners Comply with Architectural Compliance

M.D. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I’m on the Board of a 118-unit high rise condo building and wondering if you’re aware of any effective strategies to enforce compliance with our “white only” exterior appearance of window treatments?

Mister Condo replies:

M.D., if the association has published and properly adopted architectural compliance guidelines that indicate “white only” exterior appearance of window treatments, it is as simple as citing the unit owners who have violated the guidelines. Typically, the Board would send a letter notifying the unit owner of the violation. If the unit owner complies in short order, no problem. If not, follow your documents as they pertain to rules violations. Typically, the unit owner is summoned to appear before the Board and offer defense/explanation. In this case, there isn’t too much to say. The window treatment is either white or it isn’t. The Board can then decide to fine the unit owner or not and use whatever methods it has at its dispose for correcting rules violations. My guess is the unit owners that are out of compliance have done so without knowing they were breaking the rules. A simple notice will likely suffice. If not, you have other options. Work with the unit owners to get them back in compliance. Time will heal all. Good luck!

Condo Board Members Attribute Storm Damage to Unit Owner’s Son

S.J. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Today I received an email from our property manager company stating that I was going to be assessed fees for repairs to the siding on our building. Attached was a picture of my 19-year-old son standing outside with a lacrosse stick. The claim was that my son had damaged the siding. My son did not damage the siding and the claim is completely unwarranted.

Two years ago, we had storm damage to many of our units and the old property management sent out notices to co-owners that repairs were being made. At this time, our board decided to change management companies and the repairs to our unit were never made.

I was able to obtain the original incomplete work order from the old company as proof that my son did not damage the siding. My concern is will they be able to charge me for this and what is the best way to handle the inappropriateness of a board member taking pictures and claiming something that is not true.

Mister Condo replies:

S.J., I am sorry you find yourself having to do battle with your Board. Any unit owner, including a Board member, is allowed to make a claim of damage against another unit owner. They can even take photos when warranted. The Board is then charged with informing the unit owner (you) and offering you a chance to address the Board to present your defense, denial, or acceptance of the claim against you. Clearly, you are denying the claim and you have your own evidence to support your denial. After you make your counterclaim, the Board is free to do as it sees fit within the bounds of your governing documents. Can they deny your rebuttal and claim your son caused the damage? Yes. Can you then sue them for their actions? Yes, again. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that and that cooler heads prevail. It seems only logical that since your building’s storm damage was never repaired that these repairs need to be made. The claim against your son is scurrilous at best but may be taken seriously be the Board. You may wish to speak to an attorney if they proceed to charge the repairs to you and you will likely prevail from what you have shared with me here. If there is a pattern of harassment from this one particular Board member that took the photo, you might just want to sue them as well. That should get their attention so they can focus on the more important job of repairing the storm damage to the building and not look to saddle individual homeowners with their responsibility. All the best!