Surprise! Your Condo Has Leasing Restrictions!

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M.L. from Washington, D.C. writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

My condo board has updated rules for the building that include: annual fees for renting units, limiting how many units can have renters, and charging for moves in and out of the building. None of these rules were in place when we bought the unit. Had they been we never would have bought it. Can they just up and create these new rules and how enforceable are these fees? I never signed onto them!

Mister Condo replies:

M.L., thank you for your question and I am sorry you find yourself in this predicament. The short answer is that there is more to creating rules and restrictions such as you describe than simply “up and create new rules”. The Condo Board is given certain powers as outlined in your association’s governance documents. As you have stated, the rules and regulations in place at the time you purchased are the starting place. Adding rules and restrictions about renting are at the Board’s discretion provided they follow the rules for doing so. Those rules are also outlined in your governance documents and must be passed in accordance with local, state, and federal law. In many associations, the unit owners must be involved in the vote to add such restrictions although that is not always the case. Provided the new rules were passed properly, they are completely enforceable as are all of the associated fees. There are many reasons associations implement leasing restrictions, including compliance with FHA guidelines on mortgage eligibility for FHA-backed loans to purchase or refinance units within the association. Honestly, the restrictions you have described are quite common, in my experience. Review your governance documents or get in touch with a local attorney who could best advise you of your rights and your options. Good luck!

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