Condo Owners with Offsite Addresses May Be Undocumented Landlords

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J.D. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in an older condo complex, and it appears that we have a pretty high percentage of units (40%) where owners have “offsite addresses.” In some cases, they are clearly renting the units out, but in other cases it appears that owners are living elsewhere and allowing family members to live there (whether the family members help with the mortgage, essentially paying rent, I don’t know). It seems that whoever is living in these units, to a large degree, are not following the CCRs, and I have to wonder if the owners are even having those living in the units review and agree to abide by them.

My question is this…if an owner is allowing a family member to live in a condo, is that a form of a tenancy? Can we compel the owner to have the family member acknowledge and sign a copy of the CCRs promising that the family member will be abide by them?

Mister Condo replies:

J.D., you have identified a few items of concern for you, your Board, and everyone living in or owning a unit in your condo association. Let’s start with the governance documents. Most define ownership and residency as ownership of the unit and leasing as the ability of the owner to have others live there. Some go as far as to identify family members and some states, Florida, for instance, even goes so far as to identify family members that are considered Immediate family (Second Cousin Elroy isn’t immediate family, Sorry, Elroy!) for purposes of who can live in the unit and be considered family. Those issues a side all residents need to be abide by the rules and regulations, regardless of whether they have signed anything form the landlord (real or imagined). When rules are violated, the unit owner of those violating the rules is cited by the Board and asked to appear before the Board to defend against the accusation. The Board then takes the next step which is usually a fine against the unit owner. These fines are fully collectable by the association and, if left unpaid, can lead to further collection action and even foreclosure as outlined in the association’s documents and in accordance with state law. You had better believe unit owners, regardless of where they actually live will pay attention to the fines and instruct whoever is living in their unit to follow the association’s rules. As for legal action against unit owners who are, in fact, acting as landlords and not playing by the rules, speak with the association attorney about how to deal with them. Many associations have strict guidelines and rental caps that prohibit such activity without accurate reporting to the Board. Just because they don’t physically reside within the walls of your association does not give them a free ride to do as they wish. They are bound by the governance documents just like everybody else. Of course, those documents are only as good as they are enforced. Time to take action, my friend. Good luck!

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