B.T. from Fairfield County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Are associations required by law to build playgrounds or provide play areas for children when we have By Laws/rules already in place that require a majority of owners to approve any new capital improvements and rules that restrict children from riding bikes on sidewalks and parking areas? Is there any state law that overrides our documents? We cannot afford this and some new families who purchased their units knowing our current documents now want us to bend and change our rules and also look into a complete playground on our limited space.
Mister Condo replies:
B.T., I am unaware of any law that requires a condominium or HOA to build playgrounds or provide play areas. There are state and even federal laws that override your condo documents but they have nothing to do with play areas. Amenities such as playgrounds are generally offered by association developers to help lure families to their properties during the initial phases of sales and construction. Having rules in place that forbid children riding bikes, using skateboards, or using the common grounds for any type of recreation is not uncommon in associations that were primarily built for a more mature group of residents. However, over time, it is not uncommon for the complexion of the community to change, as is the case in your association where some new families have recently chosen to purchase. The Board is now faced with the challenge of whether or not to add an amenity like a playground or to stick to the original plans for the association. As you have stated, capital improvements will require a majority of owners to approve and, from what you have told me, that is not very likely. This is democracy in action in your community association. The new owners can ask the Board to build the playground. The Board will very likely weigh the request against the desires of the majority of unit owners and not take action. If they do decide to build the playground, you and your fellow unit owners who feel it shouldn’t be built and that the community cannot afford it will simply vote no on the issue if it is brought to a vote. Good luck!