Tag Archives: Rules Enforcement

55+ Condo Reluctant to Allow Young Family Member Residence

C.D. from Florida writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in a condo I own for 55+. Recently, my six-year-old granddaughter was removed from her parents by CPS and placed with me do I have to move?

Mister Condo replies:

C.D., I am sorry that your granddaughter was removed from her parents’ custody. She is fortunate to have loving grandparents to take her in. However, unless your condo documents allow for family members under the designated age for residents of the community, you may very well have to vacate your unit and find a more suitable community to raise her. There are exceptions and you might want to speak with your condo association Property Manager and Board to plead your case. You may also want to speak with a locally qualified attorney who can offer you legal advice on your predicament. I do know of some communities that are willing to bend the rules, but just a bit. For instance, if someone under the stated age inherits a unit and wishes to reside there. Typically, the inheritor is not that far away from the stated age, so the problem corrects itself in short order. I also know of communities that follow an “80/20” rule meaning that as long as at least 80% of the units are adhering to the age rule, the community has some flexibility in allowing a few (less than 20%) of units to house folks that aren’t of the appropriate age. Again, there is no requirement to do so but I do know of some that have made exceptions. I think the real issue here is the young age of your granddaughter. Folks that buy into a 55+ age-restricted community do so with an expectation of finding nothing but folks their age in the community. Perhaps, that is even why you purchased into this community? You certainly wouldn’t expect to hear the sounds of children playing or riding a bike or other activities associated with childhood within such a community. There is also the challenge of providing peer friendship for your granddaughter. She isn’t likely to find playmates here as she would most likely be the only child in the community. I am sure there are no child-friendly amenities like a playground for her to enjoy. It might be in her best interest as well as your own to find a more suitable environment to raise her. That being said, you asked if you “have” to move. My answer is “maybe”. Follow the steps I outlined above for a more definitive answer. I wish you and your granddaughter the best of luck!

Does Condo Support Animal Count as a Pet?

W.S. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I am the President of our condo association. Our condo rules allow two pets under a certain weight limit. We have a person that presented a certificate stating their dog (overweight) is a support animal due to her husband’s depression issues. The dog was allowed but now they are bringing in two cats stating the dog is not a pet. The dog is clearly a pet. Can we stick to the two-pet rule?

Mister Condo replies:

W.S., I am sorry to say that a support animal is not a pet and, therefore, not subject to the total count of pets allowed. This is a bone of contention around the country and there are some instances where the courts are saying “enough is enough” with folks taking advantage of the support animal exemption that allows them to easily skirt rules. Perhaps you heard story of an emotional support pig recently kicked off of an airplane flight? It seems that this craziness isn’t going away any time soon. In the meantime, don’t get yourself or your association into a lawsuit you will likely lose over this. Speak with a locally qualified attorney that specializes in community association law. Ask about recent cases and how the local courts are likely to respond if a suit were brought. The overweight support animal may be the one you can challenge in court based on the animal’s weight – not it’s stated purpose as a support animal. If the attorney advises you to proceed, that is your call. Short of that, unless the laws change, my advice is to let these folks enjoy their two pets and let them have their support animal as well. Be thankful they didn’t bring a support pig into your community! All the best!

Mentally Challenged Condo Owner Challenging Entire Community

A.P. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

About 1.5 years ago, a husband and wife moved into our 16-unit condominium. It was clear from the outset that there was something off with the husband. He looked disheveled, didn’t acknowledge people and walked around in a daze. Roughly 1 year ago, the wife moved out and left him alone in the unit. After he was taken away by ambulance several times, he began receiving daily visits from a visiting nurse. One time the nurse called police and he was taken away again and stayed away for over a month. At that time, a neighbor overheard the nurse outside telling police that she was concerned for her safety and did not want to go back inside. No one has seen her since. Now he has been yelling in the hall, slamming his door over and over and pounding on the door of another resident. As a trustee, I have reached out to the wife, who is still an owner and pays the condo fee. My question is, what recourse do we have other than repeatedly calling the police when he acts out? Can we somehow force them to sell their unit?

Mister Condo replies:

A.P., I am sorry for the commotion and disturbance of peace that your association is experiencing as a result of having this unit owner as a resident. There is very little that can be done on behalf of the association. The Board can enforce complaints when rules are violated. Your documents outline typical offenses (loud noises at off hours, and so on). Action can be taken that include warnings and fines. Other than that, disturbances that rise to the involvement of a crime are being handled correctly by calling the police. The Board is not the law and when laws are broken, the police are the right call. Unless your documents provide for a type of eviction (doubtful) there isn’t too much you can do about a resident dealing with mental health issues. If the common fees are not paid on time, you may have collection efforts that could lead to foreclosure and eviction but that isn’t the case here. The fees are paid on time. If you have an association attorney, this would be a great example of asking what else can be done in your state. From what you have told me here, I see no further action that the association can take at this time. All the best!

Does Condo’s Two Car Parking Limit Extend to Handicapped?

A.D. from Middlesex County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Hi. I live in a condominium complex that has several handicapped parking spots. Our board of directors recently enacted a two car per unit parking limitation. I am disabled and use one of our handicapped parking spots with a valid placard. Can the BOD’s legally tow my car from our parking lot while the placard is visibly displayed?

Mister Condo replies:

A.D., I am not fully sure I understand your question. Are you parking more than two cars on the common parking areas? If so, you are violating the new rule and the Board may have the ability to have your car towed for the infraction. If you are simply parking your car in a designated handicapped area and not violating the association’s two car rule or any other parking rule, I can’t think why you would think your car would be towed. If you are using your two car allotment for other vehicles AND you park your third car in the handicapped parking area, one of your extra cars (maybe your handicapped placard car) may be subject to towing as you are in violation of the association’s parking rules. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. Good luck!

Condo Speed Bumps Needed for Pedestrian Safety

L.A. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our condo board refuses to put in speed bumps to regulate traffic speeds through the townhome complex. Instead, they put up signs saying “slow down, we love our pets and children”. This reactive approach scares a lot of us since there are a lot of young children that live in the complex. Can they be reported for negligence or do we all have to wait until someone gets hit by a car before that?

Mister Condo replies:

L.A., the streets and condo parking lots are association-owned property. As such, they are under the purview of the Board. If they have placed signs up asking residents to slow down, that is their prerogative. If there have not been any accidents or pedestrian strikes by vehicles, it could be argued that the signs were enough. Speed bumps are not a requirement anywhere as far as I know, especially on private property such as condos. You can send a letter to the Board stating your concern for the safety of pedestrians in your community. The Board may or may not take action on your request. However, the Board Members are elected by the majority of unit owners. If the majority of unit owners want speed bumps, it would make sense to elect Board Members that will follow the will of the majority of unit owners. Perhaps you or one of your like-minded unit owners would consider running for the Board in order to see that gets done. That is the best way to make sure you get what everyone wants. Good luck!

Can the Condo Prohibit a Washing Machine Installation?

J.L. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I want to add a small washing machine and electric dryer to my unit to help with resale value and also to help as the community laundry room is sub-par, ruins my clothes and is very expensive. I don’t see anything in our bylaws that prevents this. Heat and hot water are part of my common charges. Is there any experience you have with unit owners doing this and anything that would hinder my hopes to install the washer/dryer?

Mister Condo replies:

J.L., adding appliances within your own unit are generally under your own discretion unless your by-laws prohibit it. I do know of associations that do restrict appliances like washing machines because there may be liability issues of flooding from burst water supply lines or the potential noise that could be caused by operating heavy machinery in a small unit. If you are unsure about your rights, check out your condo documents to see what they say. You might also want to ask a Board member or Property Manager if there is any problem with your plans. That way, you won’t have to regret making a purchase and installation only to find out it isn’t allowed. Good luck!

How To Enforce Condo Building Renovation Requirements

S.O. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

When a new owner renovates – without any discussion with the board/management and does things that should not have been done – what can board do? Can they make them halt, and make them put it back to the way it was, and if so how?

Mister Condo replies:

S.O., the short answer to your question is “yes” but it depends on the condo’s governing documents. Typically, interior renovations are subject to less scrutiny than exterior renovations but there are still rules that need to be observed. Common problems include replacing carpeted floors with hardwood or laminate flooring, creating an undue noise burden to unit owners above, below, or on either side of the unit. Regardless of the type of violation, the Board needs to issue a letter to the unit owner and explain which rules they are violating. If the unit owner complies, there is no problem. When they don’t comply, it is usually lawsuit time so get the association attorney involved. If/When the association prevails on court, a court order to return the unit to its previous condition is issued. If the homeowner still refuses to comply, the association attorney can then take further action to enforce the court order. It can be a quite a bit of ugliness but that is the nature of enforcing the rules at a condo. You can’t have unit owners deciding on building modification for their personal unit that effects the uniformity of the community and the enjoyment of neighboring units by their owners. Good luck!

Condo Bylaws Call for All Cars to be in “Good Working Order” but According to Who?

J.Z. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I own a condo and two deeded outdoor parking spots. My car was in an accident and the condo board is telling me I’m not allowed parking my car in my own spot because it is not in good working condition. Apparently, this is in the building’s bylaws. The car is not severely damaged and is not leaking fluids. It does not pose a security risk to other owners. They gave me 48 hours to comply or they have threatened to tow it. Can they do that? What are my rights?

Mister Condo replies:

J.Z., I am sorry your car was in an accident. Unless your documents spell out what “good working order” is, you have plenty of wiggle room here. That being said, you do need to be mindful of the condo documents and ask yourself if you would want to see other damaged cars allowed on the property. It is a sticky wicket for the Board, at best. If you are going to have the car repaired, why not take it to the shop sooner rather than later? That way you’ll get your car back and the Board will have nothing to complain about. Even though it is your parking space, the lot is owned by the association and under the authority of the Board. It is up to them to enforce the rules. If they do tow your car and you end up taking them to court, you are going to get into an argument over what “good working order” means. Your definition of “not leaking fluids” or “posing a security risk” may not be enough. If the car is visible damaged, that may be all that is needed for the Board to prevail. Best to get the car off of association-owned grounds as soon as you can. Good luck!

Noisy Condo Neighbor Ruining Renter’s Peace and Quiet

P.M. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I am dealing with a neighbor at condo. I am a renter; she is not. She is loud and noise every night until at least 1:00 a.m. The owner I’m renting from is lazy. I can’t wait until May to leave next year. I tried talking to this neighbor and had to call police twice. The manager of the association says they will send a letter but the problem still persists. Recently, a picture fell of my wall and broke. She stomps on her floor on purpose and intentionally drop loud objects. I am so angry I can’t sleep. What can I do?

Mister Condo replies:

C.J., lazy or not, your landlord has a responsibility to provide you with a rental unit as outlined in your rental agreement. Most likely, that agreement included a copy of the rules and regulation for the condo association where you reside. Inside those rules, there are the steps for complaining about another unit owner or resident that isn’t following the rules. Typically, a report is made to either a Property Manager or directly to the Board. There are usually rules about acceptable noise levels, quiet hours, and peaceable enjoyment for unit owners. As a renter, you may or may not have the ability to directly lodge such a complaint, meaning it may need to come through your landlord. If your landlord refuses to support you in this effort, he may be breaking terms of your lease which may leave you the opportunity to end the lease early. However, if you decide to break your lease early you may be out of your deposit or create a legal battle between you and your landlord. My practical advice is for you to motivate your landlord or have him give you the power to work directly with the Property Manager or Board to bring about a resolution. Understand that it may take time and as the months go by towards the end of your lease, the simplest solution may be to not renew your lease. If you decide to break your lease, speak with an attorney to see what legal and financial consequences you may be incurring. It is an unfortunate circumstance to say the least. However, in tight living spaces as many condos offer, an unruly neighbor can make living there unpleasant. Good luck!

Ill Condo Renter Has Car Towed

L.H. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I rent a condo in a complex that has an Association and also a building management company. My car was recently towed without any prior notification to me – no phone call, no email, no letter, no knock on the door. I have not been driving my car since September of 2015 for medical reasons, and in October of 2015, someone from the Association put a note on my car because it hadn’t been moved for a month. I called the building management company and informed them about my medical issue. I never heard back from building management. So yesterday without notice the car was towed. I haven’t yet been told where the car is, who towed it, or what I might need to do to get it back. BTW, I’ve rented this unit for 10 years now, and have NEVER been introduced to ANYONE on the Association and none of the members have ever made it their business to get to know me. What are my legal rights in this issue? Thanks.

Mister Condo replies:

L.H., despite your status as a long-term renter in this condo, you are still bound to follow all of the rules of the association as is every other unit owner, renter, and any other resident. That includes the parking rules, which can be quite challenging to enforce. I agree with you that this is an unfortunate situation that could have been handled better but if your car was parked in violation of association rules, the association has the right and the responsibility to enforce the parking rules so that all community members may enjoy the parking area. I am not an attorney so I do not offer legal advice in this column. I do not personally believe you have legal rights in this situation as you violated the parking rules by leaving your vehicle parked on the association-owned parking grounds for far too long a period of time. I am not sure why you would have any expectation to be introduced to anyone on the Board of the association. They represent the unit owners and are elected by the unit owners at unit owner meetings. As a renter, you aren’t a unit owner. Your relationship is with the owner of your unit; not the association. If you feel your legal rights have been violated, by all means, contact an attorney who could better advise you of your options. In the meanwhile, the management company should be able to tell you where your car has been towed. You will likely need to pay for the towing and/or storage fees to get your car back. Once you do, you should make alternate arrangements for the long-term storage of your car. Otherwise, it will likely be towed again in accordance with the rules of parking in your condo. Good luck!