S.G. from Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I have two unknowledgeable people living in a condo complex where I own a unit. One of the folks is the condo president and the other is an elderly woman. Recently, they held a meeting and determined that:
- There would be no Trespassing on Unit #1, Access to Rear Entrance, Deck. They claim the deck is private and no one but the owner is permitted use although it is a common egress for 2 of the 4 units in the building. Is that lawful?
- Each unit shall contain one family or not more than 3 unrelated persons. Currently there are (4-5) people, all with different last names who are being asked to provide proof they are a family or are related. This seems discriminatory to me. Is this lawful?
- The condo owners must be allowed access to the Fuse Box Room in the basement which has been designated as exclusive storage for unit #3. Does the association have the responsibility to designate a new area for exclusive storage?
Thanks for your help!
Mister Condo replies:
S.G., sounds like your Board is struggling with a lot of issues right now. Without knowing the specifics of your association, it would be impossible for me to give you detailed advice. Suffice to say, if all that you are stating is true, it would appear there is room to question the Board’s rules. You may need to seek the assistance of a competent attorney to guide you and your fellow unit owners to bring action against the Board if they won’t listen to reason. Let’s start with your opening sentence. Unknowledgeable or otherwise, a Board President and an elderly woman do not compose a Board. Who else is serving on your Board? What do your by-laws demand as to a quorum of Board members before a Board meeting can be held? If no quorum was achieved, any business conducted at this so-called Board meeting should be discarded as it was not a legitimate Board meeting.
The second thing that comes to mind is what are the rights of the unit owners as decreed in the declaration and condo documents? Entrance and egress are most certainly stated and assured. The Board cannot take any action that blocks entrance or egress without providing alternate methods of entering and leaving the buildings. Also, you may have local fire laws or zoning laws that supersede such a rule by the Board. You may not have as much luck with the Fuse box access but I doubt that an entire Board of Directors would make such a decision without creating an alternate method for owners to reach their fuse boxes. Common sense should dictate their actions.
Finally, no Board is above the Fair Housing Act. If you think FHA laws are being violated, contact HUD at http://www.hud.gov/complaints/. Discrimination is illegal. However, carefully worded rules about how many occupants and rules about renters are not. Adopting policies that create and ensure a successful and harmonious community are not illegal. Again, if you are unsure as to whether or not the Board has crossed a legal line, you would be well advised to seek legal counsel. Best wishes!