J.H. from New Haven County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Can an association pass rules that apply to different areas of the complex? Example: can condos backing up to a wooded area be allowed to place solar lights behind their units, but not the units that back up to other units?
Mister Condo replies:
J.H., the condo association can pass all sorts of rules. Passing of rules is generally something that the Board does and it is often in reaction to a problem or complaint. They must be careful that their rules do not discriminate against any owners and they must make sure that their rules do not violate local, state, or federal law. Other than that, it is really at the discretion of the Board who are the elected officials of the community. Your example of solar lights is pretty specific so let’s start there. I cannot think of any reason the Board would allow solar lights on part of the property but not on another part. Perhaps they feel the light going into the woods does not disturb unit owners but the light going into another unit would be considered disturbing. Have you asked why the rule exists? Was there an issue with solar lights at your association? It would be far easier to simply ban the use of solar lighting altogether than it would be to selectively allow it. However, I do not see where such a rule is discriminatory, and I would say that the Board is well within their rights to have such a rule on the books. If you disagree, you might ask the Board to reconsider their position. However, if they do not agree with you, don’t be surprised if the rules remain.
If, however, your Board passes rules that are blatantly discriminatory (i.e. – only unit owners from Building 1 may have guests that can use the visitor’s parking spaces) don’t be afraid to cry foul. You have rights as a unit owner that supersede any rules that the Board may pass. Also, if you are unhappy with how the Board is governing your condo, don’t be afraid to vote them out of office and replace them with new volunteer leaders who will govern with the best interest of all unit owners in mind. They are your elected leaders; you put them in office and you have the power to vote them out of office if you so choose. All the best!