Category Archives: Rules Enforcement

Condo Revokes Renters Pet Ownership Privileges

K.L. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I rented a unit in a condo building with a lease that allows me to have a dog (under a certain weight limit). I waited months to adopt a dog and a week before the dog arrived the condo association posted a notice in the Common Area announcing that only OWNERS were allowed to have pets. I promptly talked to my landlord about this and he said he would talk to the Condo Association. Fast forward several weeks and I now have the dog. The landlord informed me days ago that the “condo association” won’t allow him to bring the matter to the Board. I’m frustrated and confused and ready to break my lease. What recourse do I have?

Mister Condo replies:

K.L., I am sorry you find yourself in this unfortunate situation. The association has the right to regulate who can and cannot have pets on the property. Of course, they need to follow the rules for passing the rules but let’s assume that they did everything right and the rule now stands. Your beef is with your landlord who contractually allowed you to have a pet as a provision of the lease. He can no longer fulfill that provision of the lease which may give you a valid reason for you to break your lease, provided that is what you want to do. Hopefully, your landlord will not challenge your breaking of the lease based on this provision but you may need to speak to an attorney to protect yourself from a suit from your landlord for breaking the lease. Your landlord may be in a position to sue the association or ask for a grandfathering of the pet clause but this will cost him more time and trouble than simply replacing you with another tenant. It is an unfortunate situation to say the least. I wish you and your landlord a happy parting of the ways and a fast turnaround in you finding a new apartment and him finding a new tenant. Good luck!

Florida Condo Owner Needs to be Home When Family Stays Overnight

G. from Florida writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Hi! After 13 years at my condo I was told that my family members could not stay at my condo for a few days unless I was there. Is this legal? I had people stay there several times throughout the years for a few days and was never told I couldn’t do it. Your answer would be appreciated. Thank you.

Mister Condo replies:

G., your answer lies in your association’s governing documents. My gut instinct is that you will likely find that you are required to be in attendance with any guests, especially if they are using any amenities, such as a pool, tennis courts, clubhouse, etc.. Many associations have added such rules in recent years to prevent unit owners from subletting using services like AirBnB or VRBO, where they are actually making income from their units when they are not home. Check your documents. If there are provisions prohibiting you from having people stay in your unit when you are not at home, be thankful you weren’t fined for past violations and follow the rules moving forward. Good luck!

Condo Documents Dictate Double Late Fees and Fines

I.G. from Middlesex County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our By-Laws stipulate a late fee of interest plus prime rate if a payment is 30 days past due. The Rules and Regulations stipulate a $100 fee after 15 Days. Which prevails? One or both?

Mister Condo replies:

I.G., hopefully, every unit owner pays on time and you don’t have to implement late fees. It is not uncommon for governing documents to have conflicting terms. It is up to the Board to correct the documents and implement a proper late fee policy. Since one dictates a fee after 15 days and the other dictates a fee after 30 days, you could make the argument for both being applicable. However, it would make more sense to have just one fee and a detailed collection strategy for what happens at 30 days and what happens at 60 days, with 60 days being the time the matter is turned over to the association’s collection agent or attorney. I hope you never need to do that. Good luck!

Who Can Enforce the Condo Rules?

S.P. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Who can enforce the rules?

Mister Condo replies:

S.P., I appreciate a question of simple words. Let me give you a simple answer. The Board of Directors is the democratically elected group of unit owners who can enforce the rules. Unit owners, such as you, can submit violations of rules by other unit owners but it is up to the Board to enforce (or not enforce if they so choose) the rules. If the Board doesn’t enforce the rules, you can always elect new Board members that will enforce the rules. It really is that simple. Hope that help!

Current Condo Owner Cited for Previous Owner’s Unapproved Modification

J.F. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I’ve owned my condo for nearly three years. I have put it on the market attempting to sell it. After posting it online, the condo company contacted me stating that my in-suite washer/dryer was never approved by the condo board (it was installed by previous owners). I was not aware of this at the time I purchased the condo. They are saying that I need to have an inspection (at my cost) to insure that it is vented correctly and to obtain signed papers stating the same to present to the board. If it is not vented properly (which I think might be the case), they told me that I need to have them removed and pay for any damage it caused to the building. I don’t think this is my responsibility as I was not made aware of any of this when I bought the condo. The condo company claims they have no record of this and no record of any of the previous owners and that it is my responsibility to find the previous owners. I hardly feel that any of this my responsibility. The realtors I bought the condo with have not been helpful in getting information on previous owners. My condo is currently on the market so I want to get this cleaned up as quickly as possible so as not to deter potential buyers. Shall I get a lawyer involved?

Mister Condo replies:

J.F., I am sorry to say that you are likely on the hook for this previous owner’s unapproved washer/dryer installation, regardless of your lack of knowledge. You are the owner of record when the violation was cited and, as such, you are the person who needs to put your unit back in conformance with the association. You may have a case to sue the previous owner for making an unapproved modification to their unit but that is likely going to be a futile effort. I’d rather see you focus your resources on getting your unit in compliance as quickly as possible so that you can make an unencumbered sale to a new owner. I can’t imagine that this process is going to be terribly expensive but, nevertheless, if you think you can track down a previous owner and bring a suit against them for your damages, I wouldn’t discourage you as long as there was enough money at risk to make it worth your while. Otherwise, follow the association’s instructions for putting your unit in compliance, make your sale, and move on. All the best!

How to Enforce a Condo Rule Violation

E.P. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

How do I write a letter to a resident about removing commercial vehicles off the condominium grounds? Commercial vehicles are not allowed on property and is indicated in Docs.

Mister Condo replies:

E.P., enforcing the association’s rules about commercial vehicle parking is a simple enough task. It is no different than enforcing any other rule of the association. Typically, a letter is sent to the unit owner describing the complaint against the unit owner and the subsequent rule of the association that was broken. The unit owner is usually summoned to appear before the Board and explain why they broke the rule or deny they broke the rule. Then the Board takes action as outlined in the documents. That is usually a fine for breaking the rule and instructions to the unit owner to please not break the rule again. Alternatively, if it is a first offense, the Board may choose to simply issue a warning. Hope that help. Good luck!

Condo Renter Has Seven Vehicles on Property!

K.L. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Can the condo board make a rule on how many cars a unit can have? A renter has 7 and they say they can’t make a rule!

Mister Condo replies:

K.L., that is a lot of cars for any condo dweller! The association may not be able to make a rule about how many cars any unit owner or renter may own BUT they can certainly make rules about how many vehicles can be stored on association property. Where does this renter keep all of these vehicles? Typically, condo units come with one or two assigned parking spaces and or a garage space. There is also visitor parking in many associations which is typically owned and governed by the Board. I do not know of any associations that allow an unlimited number of vehicles on the common grounds and for good reason. There isn’t enough space! If the association’s governance documents are silent on the use of the association-owned parking lots, it is time to add them. If the association has an attorney, this would be a perfect time to check in with him or her and explain the problem and have him or her draft the resolution so the Board can adopt it. Problem solved. Good luck!

Condo Cannot Enforce Rules on Land it Doesn’t Own

J.J. from Michigan writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our condo association rules state “No Signs of any kind with the exception of one For Sale sign”. With that being said, since all of our roads are county roads and not private roads, can the association stop me from putting political signs in the county road right of way in our subdivision? This is property that is not owned by any association member but the county right of way that is owned by the county road commission. Thank you! I need a quick answer.

Mister Condo replies:

J.J., quite simply the condo can only enforce rules on land that it owns. If you are certain that they don’t own the land you wish to plant signs on then they cannot enforce their rules on that land. However, the land owner of the land in question may have their own rules about what the public can and cannot do on that land. Have you checked with the county road commission? Violating your condo rules can get you a warning or a fine. Violating municipal rules could get you arrested. Better to be safe than sorry. Find out who owns the land and what the rules are for posting political signs before you take any other action.  All the best!

Can the Board Enforce a Weight Rule Against Tenant With an ESA?

A.G. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I am on the HOA Board of our 11 unit complex. One unit is being rented out to a tenant with a pit bull. The HOA knew the tenant had a dog but only recently started receiving complaints about the dog. It has jumped on other residents, barks all day, and has tried jumping on other resident’s dogs. The HOA also was informed the dog is over our weight restrictions. When served with a violation notice the tenant gave a letter stating they are allowed one ESA. Can the HOA continue to pursue action against the dog being over weight limits? And can the HOA do anything about the dog being a nuisance? The owner of the unit is siding with the tenant and wants them to keep the dog. But now other residents, including the neighboring unit, are afraid of being attacked by the pit bull. I don’t think the ESA is exempt from all HOA rules but it seems the tenant is hiding behind that ESA letter.

Mister Condo replies:

A.G., the winds of change are blowing on Emotional Support Animals and your tenant may be on the losing side of the latest court rulings. Also, the HOA may be able to enforce rules about breed or weight restrictions based on your local laws. However, this is not a “do it yourself” project. Violating the rights of any unit owner or tenant with a legitimately documented ESA is a potential lawsuit waiting to happen. You are very well advised to seek the advice and guidance of a locally qualified attorney who is verse in this area of law. Otherwise, your small association could find itself on the receiving end of a lawsuit. Based on what you have shared with me so far, it sounds like both the tenant and unit owner are ready to do battle so tread lightly and get the legal advice you need before you take any action. Good luck!

Condo Association Limits Number of Occupants per Unit

D.L. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our Condominium is all 2 and 3 bedrooms per unit. All bedrooms are in excess of 100 Square feet in size. The Condominium Association limits the occupancy to two members per unit. It charges $200.00 for each occupant over 2. There is nothing in our Declaration about this limit. Nor can I find any federal or state laws that would allow this limit. Have you folks ever heard of this? Thank You, DL!

Mister Condo replies:

D.L., yes, I have heard of associations placing restrictions on occupancy of their units. Typically, this is done to prevent overcrowding of the community and too many residents using the amenities and common areas. Too many cars, too many people in the health club or swimming pool, etc.. Is the $200 charge for additional occupants monthly or a one-time fee? If there is nothing in your Declaration, it is likely a rule that the association adopted previously. As long as the rule was adopted in accordance with the association’s governing documents and does not violate local, state, or federal housing laws, the rule stands. Good luck!