D.R. from Ontario, Canada writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Have the rules changed? I would like to plant flowers for the Board but am told that I must be employed by the Condo Corporation. If I sign a “no harms agreement”, can I do this voluntarily or has the law changed?
Mister Condo replies:
D.R., planting of flowers or any gardening by unit owners on common grounds is generally not allowed at most condominiums. There a few reasons for this. Condo by-laws usually state that common areas are maintained by the association. Insurance regulations generally don’t cover the association in the event of injury, even if a unit owner has signed a “no harms agreement” as you mentioned. There are also issues of uniformity and responsibility that the condo Board takes into consideration. For instance, do we want petunias or sunflowers covering our landscape? Who will be responsible for watering and maintaining them?
For most associations, planting and landscaping are left to a third party. There are numerous contractors who specialize in just this type of work. However, I know of several communities (including the one that I live in) where the owners are actually encouraged to plant in the common areas right outside of their units. Technically, these associations are at risk of a lawsuit if someone were to be injured during this activity but my guess is they are willing to “look the other way” while this planting takes place. I am not advocating that practice, just acknowledging that I have seen it done. If your association isn’t willing to let you or other residents plant or garden it is likely well within their rights. Happy Spring!