Tag Archives: Rules Enforcement

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!

Condo Owner Acting as Unofficial Landlord

C.P. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

One of the condo owners in our complex does not reside in her unit. Instead, she lets “various friends??” use her condo for periods of time ranging from a few weeks to several months. There have been several residents in her unit and lots of problems, ie: drug overdoses, excessive drinking, police in and out. She claims these people are guests and therefore does not have to abide by the condo rules or town rules regarding rentals. Therefore, she avoids having her place inspected by the local Board of Health and paying the fee involved. No leases exist and the people staying at her place are supposedly “guests” and paying nothing. Everyone in the association knows the whole setup is bogus and we would like to put an end to it. Any suggestions.

Mister Condo replies:

C.P., there are solutions to every condo problem, in my opinion. In your case, it is a job for an attorney. If your current governance documents do not have enough definition of who can live in a unit with or without a lease, it is time to stiffen the rules and the penalties for violating those rules. Any competent community association attorney in your area should be able to help. Once these rules are in place, residents without a lease will no longer be allowed. Keep in mind that these new regulations will have to be observed by ALL unit owners and residents. You may limit guests to no more than a day or a week of residency, for instance. That might affect unit owners who have family come visit for extended periods of time. Understand that once these rules are enacted, all unit owners will be affected. That is why I recommend you work with an attorney to draft the right regulations, properly vote them into the by-laws, and then enforce them evenly. I am confident that you can get this one unit owner to start playing fair and get your vagrancy problem under control. Good luck!

Condo Owners Creating Eyesore By Using Patios as Storage Areas

J.B. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

We have concrete patios in front of basement doors. We now have homeowners leaving all kinds of stuff (sand boxes, gas grills, coolers, etc.) on their patios which is seen from the pool area and making it look very sloppy. Looking for regulations on what can be left on Patio area in front of each homeowner’s unit.

Mister Condo replies:

J.B., I am sorry that your fellow homeowners have decided to use their patio concrete slabs as storage areas, creating an eyesore for the community. Have you looked at your existing governance documents? It is quite common for there to be rules and regulations about how common and limited common elements can be used by unit owners. It may be as simple as having these rules enforced. If the documents are silent on the use of the space, it is time to ask the Board to consider new rules to keep the property looking great. If the Board refuses or there isn’t enough consensus to enact such rules, there may be nothing you can do. If there aren’t rules against using a common element like a patio in a certain manner, it is typically up to the unit owner to use the space as they see fit. Hopefully, between existing or future restrictions, you can get the eye appeal of your association back up to snuff. All the best!

Limo Can’t be Parked at the Condo

G.A. from New Jersey writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

My New Jersey condo association prohibits parking by commercial vehicles. I have a limousine with Omnibus plates. The association considers my luxury SUV vehicle commercial. Other vehicles, obviously for commercial purposes have regular plates, but are allowed. Do I have any recourse?

Mister Condo replies:

G.A., as long as your commercial vehicle is in violation of the association’s rules on parking, you don’t likely have any recourse but to park the vehicle off property. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to prove a vehicle with a passenger plate was in violation of the association’s parking rules. Your Omnibus plates are a different story. You could petition the Board to see if they will allow you an exception (unlikely) or you could offer to pay an extra fee for the right to park your Omnibus plated vehicle. Other than that, I don’t see what other recourse you would have other than to get passenger vehicle plates for your limo, which would put you in violation of state law for operating your limo. That doesn’t sound like a reasonable plan either. Good luck!

Family Not Welcome in Older Condo Community

D.S. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

My husband, me, & our preschool child live in a privately-owned condo rental. A senior neighbor advised me that there are no kid bicycles allowed here as well as toys & they will be disposed of. Next, the condo manager came by and accused us of not supervising our child and that he was in the street, also parking lot. Allegations not true. Then another Senior resident came knocking with the condo rules. I read them and gave them back. I received a copy of my own rules and did note it stated there are to be no bouncing balls or bicycles in the common areas. My son and I have been yelled and screamed at by neighbors for absolutely no reason at times so it’s obvious they have a problem with us but we are pretty good people who keep to ourselves. I was told by a senior resident that all the neighbors here do not like us living here. He stated it was because of our little boy. Our car broke down on a Saturday and we went to take the bus, I noticed that I was being followed part way to the bus stop by one of the neighbors. I also noticed that she was on the phone. I told my husband I’m sure she was calling the association and letting them know that our car was broke down. I can’t prove that but we did within about 48 hours receive a notice that we were going to have our car towed within 24 hours because it was not running. There are several other cars in our area that are out of compliance with their rules, they have not received any notification to move their cars and they are also good friends with management. Is it legal for them to tow our car only and not tow other cars that are not following the same rules? We were told to just move if we didn’t like the rules, this was by the manager. We never said this and my husband has responded to them via letter. They have now been threatening to tow the car for 2 weeks at least. But they still have not. We are in process if attempting to sell it as per our mechanics advise. Any help would be appreciated.

Mister Condo replies:

D.S., it certainly sounds as though you and your family are not being welcomed in this particular community. Is this an age-restricted community, meaning it was designed for older residents (aged 55+)? If so, I can see where the presence of a child and a young family is not welcome here. Regardless of the reason, you are on the enforcement side of rules violations and I am guessing that will continue unless you are able to fully comply with the association’s rules. That can be quite the challenge with a young child and a broken-down vehicle. As for the enforcement of the rules, that is the association’s duty. Rules are typically enforced at the request of a fellow unit owner who complains about the violation or by the Board or Manager if so empowered. If you observe other violations, you would likely notify your landlord who would inform the association. The association could then take action against the rule violators if they so choose. It is possible that may have a discrimination complaint against the association but I cannot offer legal advice in this column. If you feel you have a case for discrimination, you should contact a local attorney who could better advise you of your options. If I were in your position, I would speak to my landlord and let him know how you are being treated. I certainly wouldn’t renew my lease and I would consider moving out as soon as possible. There is no reason for you to not enjoy your rental home and I am sure you can find a more family-friendly community. All the best!

New Pet Rules Discriminate Against Condo Dog Owners

L.B. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

If condo bylaws permit a pet (no restriction on size) does the condo board have the right to impose a surcharge to pet owners (specifically dog owners). Our board voted to charge $20.00 per month per dog & new owners a one-time charge of $200 plus the $20.00 per month. Do they have the right to impose such charges? What about cat owners? Should they be charged as well. These charges seem discriminatory.

Mister Condo replies:

L.B., as long as the Board passed these rules in accordance with association governance powers, they have committed no foul. However, it is important to note that these individuals were voted into service by homeowners like you. If you and enough of your fellow homeowners feel the rules are unfair, simple replace the Board members with like-minded representatives of the people. If you can’t muster enough support for that, I don’t see why the rules should change. The sitting Board likely had their reasons for imposing these rules and, as long as they were adopted and passed correctly, they are the rules of the association. All the best!

Condo Restricts Renters Use of Rooftop Amenity

V.S. from Boston writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I own a condominium in Boston, MA. The Condominium Association amended the Condominium Trust document with a 67% vote of Unit Owners and recorded it at the Registry of Deeds. The amendment prohibits renters from having furniture on the roof deck. Owner occupants are allowed to have furniture on the common roof deck but renters are not allowed to have furniture on the roof deck. Renters are allowed to use the roof deck but cannot leave furniture up on the roof deck. Can the Condominium Association enforce such a provision or is this discriminatory against the renters? Thank you for your guidance.

Mister Condo replies:

V.S., the answer is “Yes” to both questions. Yes, the association can discriminate against renters regarding the use of the roof. Yes, they can enforce the rule seeing as it was passed properly. The real question is can you now sue the association for discrimination seeing as they have created a “class” of residents called “renters”. I am not an attorney nor am I an expert in Massachusetts state law but your question really needs to be posed to a local attorney to see if it has merit. You are not being denied access to the amenity; you are simply being denied access to have furniture placed on the roof. I wouldn’t think such a case has merit but if you think it is worth pursuing, I encourage you to do so. All the best!

Can the Condo Association Limit My 2nd Amendment Rights?

L.C. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Can condo association limit your 2nd amendment rights? If I have a legal permit to own a firearm, can they deny that?

Mister Condo replies:

L.C., no one can limit your constitutional rights. However, the association can ban firearms from the property, meaning if you want to own a gun, you would have to keep it somewhere else. You may see this as a challenge to your rights but it isn’t. The courts have held that condos and HOAs are not governmental agencies and are therefore not violating your right by disallowing firearms on the property. You may see it differently (I’m guessing you do) but unless the courts change their minds, the association can prohibit firearms. Of course, they cannot take away your right to live elsewhere, which might just be the best solution for you if you insist on bringing firearms into a condo that doesn’t allow it. All the best!