What Should Be Allowed on the Condo Back Deck?

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K.H. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Do you have a general guideline for what associations use as to what is and is not allowed on back decks? Need this for suggestion only. Thanks.

Mister Condo replies:

K.H., back decks seem to have it all, don’t they? In some communities, they look like pristine sanctuaries with well-cared for deck furniture, patio sets, and more. In other communities, I’ve seen trash cans, children’s toys strewn about, rusty old grills, and other eyesores. It all comes down to the community, its by-laws, and whether or not the Board and/or Property Manager are willing to enforce the rules.

Start with your condo documents. If your units were built with attached back decks, there is likely some language describing the use of the decks and what items can or can’t be used or stored on the decks. There is routinely language forbidding growing of fruits and vegetables on the deck to stop attracting animals. There are generally rules not allowing garbage of any kind on the deck. I have seen rules that forbid any type of storage (including deck boxes) on back decks. Some cities and towns have local ordinances that trump the condo rules. For instance, if the city rules forbid the use of open-flame cooking within a certain distance form a housing structure it is very likely that grills would be forbidden from the back decks.

If your condo docs are silent on the use of back decks, I would encourage you to bring the matter to the Board so that a discussion and preparation of rules could be put in place. Without these guidelines I fear you will likely have everything from tomatoes to jungle gyms littering your back decks. With the proper rules and enforcement in place, you may find years of outside enjoyment for you and your fellow unit owners. All the best!

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