Category Archives: Rules Enforcement

Feral Cats Find Friendly Unit Owners; Association Board Not So Much!

R.S. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Hi! We are currently feeding and maintaining a mama cat and her 3 kittens plus 2 other friendly feral cats on our front porch. Association putting pressure on us to “get rid” of our outdoor friends. We are good people and good home owners. We have done so much to be good neighbors and keep up our property on our own. We are trying to find shelter for these babies before winter and have taken 4 of them already at our own expense. What can we do to keep these babies from harm?

Mister Condo replies:

R.S., I applaud your love of animals and your desire to help these fuzzy fur-babies. However, in its duty to protect the association from the potential danger and liability of keeping and encouraging feral cats, the Board is exactly correct to insist that you stop this behavior. You can contact your local animal control (some, not all, are helpful) to see what can be done. Keeping these babies from harm is a noble goal. Keeping you and your neighbors free from the vermin, feces, and other potential risks of having feral animals on property is the job of the Board. Be a good neighbor and stop encouraging activity from feral cats. It may seem cruel and heartless to abandon these critters but if you continue to violate the association’s rules, you should expect to get summoned and fined for the behavior. Good luck!

Foul Odors From Infirmed Neighbor Ruining Condo Owner’s Life

M.F. from California writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in Glendale, CA. There is a person (‘a room-mate’) as she says who takes care of a bed-bound person. The kitchen curtain is always open which is directly across from my 2nd bedroom and she spends her day outside on the walkway smoking. I have asked her to NOT smoke outside my windows but it seems as if every time I open my door there she is. The board has done nothing and the smell from the unit smells like feces. I am thinking of moving as I cannot take her much longer. Suggestions would be appreciated.

Mister Condo replies:

M.F., you are right to consider moving as the legal solution could take years to implement, if it can even be implemented. I am sorry for your situation and I know many others who feel as you do about foul-smelling odors (second hand cigarette, cigar, pipe, marijuana smoke, feces, spicy cooking, and so on). The reality is that the solution is as simple as the Board enforcing the association’s forbiddance of “Nuisance” as it applies to odors. However, most governing documents are vague on what “nuisance” is so enforcing the nuisance provisions are tricky at best. Have you complained to the Board? Have you claimed that the unit owner is breaking the rules by allowing these foul odors to penetrate your unit? That is your first step. If the Board agrees, they make steps to correct the situation. However, you can’t expect instant results which is why I suggested that you may be correct in thinking of moving instead of waiting for all of this to happen. If the Board acts against the unit owner, they may push back and a lawsuit may ensue. This is expensive for both parties and could take a great deal of time to settle. If it were me and I found the odors as foul as you claim they are, I would sell and move out. There are always better communities to move into where you won’t have to deal with the problems this infirmed unit owner is creating. All the best!

Condo Board Issuing Fines without Hearings

A.F. from Hartford County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Can a board fine a unit owner without a hearing?

Mister Condo replies:

A.F., typically, the Board cannot simply fine a unit owner without due process which typically involves a written notice of violation and a summons to appear before the Board to explain the reasons for the violation. After hearing the unit owner’s rebuttal or explanation, the Board is then free to take whatever disciplinary action that is called for in the governance documents, which is typically a fine. There are rare exceptions but the Common Interest Ownership Act (CIOA) does give unit owners very specific rights that many times supersede the association’s own governance documents. If you fell the Board is improperly doling out fines, ask them if they are following the state’s laws in doing so. If not, they should change their ways or risk being sued by a homeowner who will claim they had their rights violated. All the best!

Condo Rental Cap Requires a By-Law Change

L.R. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

What is the amount of votes needed to change a bylaw? We are considering making a cap on rentals in our complex as absentee landlords are renting to multi-family groups (against our bylaws).

Mister Condo replies:

L.R., I am sorry that you have unit owners in your association who are renting to ineligible renters. Rather than change your by-laws which can be challenging at best, why not just go after the landlords who are breaking the existing rules? Get in touch with your association attorney and let him or her know you have a problem and ask for legal help in remedying the behavior. Typically, notice is sent to the offender asking them to come for a hearing before the Board. Then it is possible to fine and/or sue the landlord. Once the unit owner is sued, the sweetness of collecting rent on a unit that is racking up debt and legal expenses tens to remedy the problem.Adding rental caps can be challenging due to the nature of changing such a by-law. You need to review your documents to see what percentage of unit owners need to vote in favor of such a change. Again, speak with your association attorney so you have a full understanding. If you think there are enough votes (typically 2/3 or more, maybe even 100%) you might be able to change the by-laws. Otherwise, I would advise you to use the by-laws you already have and begin enforcing them against the offenders. All the best!

Condo Parking Law for Backing Up Cars

G.K. from Florida writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

In Florida, what is the law about backing your car up in your parking space?

Mister Condo replies:

G.K., I am not aware of any law that requires you to back your car into your parking space. However, many associations require that your license plate be visible when parked so that they can easily see that the vehicle is properly registered and licensed. Most associations prohibit unlicensed and/or unregistered vehicles on association grounds. Check the parking rules for your association and follow them as you have agreed to do when you moved in. All the best!

Tricking the Condo Board on the Number of Pets Per Unit

M.L. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in a condo that has a one pet rule, I have a dog. Recently my girlfriend moved in and she also has a dog. I received a letter from the Corporation citing the one pet rule and was asked to remove one of the dogs. A neighbor that I have become friendly with has offered to register one of the dogs as his thereby allowing me to tell Corporation that one of the dogs has been removed although the dog remains with me. Can this be done? Can the Corporation come back to me as having two pets?

Mister Condo replies:

M.L., kindly put yourself in the position of a Board Member being asked to enforce the rules of the community. They know nothing of your personal situation. All they know is that your unit now houses two dogs, which, as you have acknowledged and obviously know, is against the rules of the association. You have found a creative “loophole” around the rule which may or may not work for you. I am certainly not going to endorse this fraudulent behavior but if you are not “caught” breaking the rules, there may be no penalty for you. However, if push comes to shove, the association is completely within their rights to enforce the rules you agreed to live by when you moved in. I hope it works out for you. Good Luck!

Condo Association Evicts Dog Owner After 5 Years!

K.V. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I’ve been living in my condo for over 5 years. The association has never ever enforced the no dog over 20-pounds rule the entire time. Now I have an eviction notice on my door. Are they able to do that? Can they now kick me out for my dog? I’ve had her there for 5 years. I would have never moved in if I knew this would happen. 5 years!!!! Not one word about it being against the rules.

Mister Condo replies:

K.V., I am truly sorry for your problems. Just because the association chose not to enforce a rule doesn’t mean they can’t enforce a rule. What they do have to do is enforce the rule evenly (not just against you) and they have to follow the rules for notifying you of the violation, giving you an opportunity to contest the violation, make sure your dog is not an Emotional Support Animal (ESA), etc.. If they have done all of those things and your by-laws allow then to evict you and/or your dog, then they may be well within their rights. If you have not already done so, you should most certainly hire an attorney to protect your rights. Eviction is usually an extreme measure and a very legal procedure. It should not begin with a notice on your door. There are many more steps than that in the process. You can and should fight back. Whether or not you will prevail depends on the association’s governance documents and your local laws. All the best!

Can Non-Owners Serve on the Board?

J.S. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

May non-owners be directors of CT common interest communities? Our By-Laws require that only owners may serve as directors and several non-owner residents have expressed interest in serving on the Board.

Mister Condo replies:

J.S., it isn’t a question of State of Connecticut laws but, rather, the association’s by-laws that restrict who can serve on the Board. As you have stated, only owners may serve on the Board. Connecticut does not restrict who may serve on the Board as far as I know but your governance documents most certainly do. The non-owners should not be allowed to serve on the Board. All the best!

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!