J.D. from New Haven County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Can my condo association mandate that I leave my outside lights on all night at my expense?
Mister Condo replies:
J.D., many condo associations have common area lights for lighting the property at night. They do this to protect the units by illuminating the area and making it less attractive for thieves and other folks who have no business being on the common grounds at night. The electricity for these lights is paid out of the association’s common operating expense which individual unit owners fund each month in the form of common fees or dues.
Lights that are individually wired to the unit and are under unit owner control are a different matter, although I know of many cases where the association has asked or mandated that these lights be left on. Some associations are built without security lights in place to deter crime. The Board is the governing authority of the association and can make business decisions on behalf of the association. If they have reason to mandate that the lights be left on, they can certainly do so. However, managing that situation is another story. What happens when a bulb burns out? What happens if a unit is empty and there is no electricity supplied? What if a unit owner goes away on vacation? Unit owners like you don’t feel it is fair that they keep their lights on at their own expense while some neighboring units don’t comply with the rule.
So while it is quite possible that your association will mandate that unit owners keep their lights on at night it is not an ideal solution. A better solution would be to install security lights that are owned and maintained by the association with the association picking up the bill for the electricity. That way, unit owners like you don’t feel put upon to keep their lights on and the association achieves its goal of keeping the community well lit and safer. Hope that helps.