Subletting the Condo is Against the Rules but Who Can Sue?

M.B. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I am about to enter a legal dispute with the inspector that performed the inspection of my condo prior to purchase. I currently live in the condo with two roommates. The Master Deed states that any lease or occupancy agreement should be in writing and should apply to the entire unit, not merely a portion thereof. There are only 4 units in the condo association and they all know that I live with roommates. No one has a problem or intends to take action against me at this time. For legal purposes, can I get around this clause by creating a lease that encompasses the entire condo with a total rent due each month for the entire unit vs. separate bedrooms?

Additionally, can someone outside the condo association, such as the inspector, file a claim against me for violating the Condo Bylaws? Would that hold up in court if the other unit owners/Condo Association members do not wish to take action?

Mister Condo replies:

M.B., I am sorry you find yourself in this somewhat precarious situation. The term for what you are doing is subletting and many condo association documents do not allow for such activity. There are a variety of reasons for this but suffice to say that if your association has a clause that prohibits you from doing what you are doing, you are on shaky ground here. The good news is that it is up to the association to take action against you should they choose and, from what you have stated here, they aren’t interested in doing so. Unless there are local or state laws forbidding the action of subletting (uncommon, in my experience), you and your roommates should be fine. I am not sure how the inspector of your unit fits into this equation as inspectors are typically charged with the soundness of the structure and your issue has nothing to do with that. I am not aware of anyone other than the association being able to take any action against you that violates the condo’s governing documents as they would not have the authority. However, if local or state laws are being violated, that is another story. If you are sued by anyone, my advice is to hire your own attorney and counter the suit. From what you have told me, you would likely prevail against anyone other than the association. Keep in mind that I am not an attorney nor am I an expert is your local or state laws regarding leasing and subletting. For a proper legal opinion, seek the counsel of a qualified local attorney. Good luck!

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