E.C. from Illinois writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I am the owner of a “rent to buy” condo unit; my buyer in his 4th of 6th year term to buy. The board has directed the management company to inform me via a letter just received, that because my buyer has thrown cigarette butts in the common area repeatedly, I am going to be fined $50. per occurrence. My buyer does not smoke. He is punctual in payments, and of fine character. The woman president of the board has no visual proof or proof of any kind. I do not believe they have a legal stand of any kind. What kind of response should I prepare?
Mister Condo replies:
E.C., regardless of the “rent to buy” status of the occupant of your condo unit, the Board is the enforcement body for rules violations. However, you do have a right to defend against these accusations. The typical procedure for these types of things is that the Board receives a complaint and issues a warning and or a letter of an intent to fine, which it looks like they have done. I am not sure why you have pointed out that the Board president is a woman or that she has no visual proof as neither item bears any relevance in these matters. What does matter is that a complaint was made. The complaint is a record of the association and, as such, can be examined by you or any other member of the association. You have the right to appear before the Board and explain that you find it highly unlikely that your tenant, who does not even smoke, has littered the property with cigarette butts and that you do not believe a rule violation has occurred. If the Board agrees with you, the fine is dismissed. If the Board finds your explanation not strong enough, they can still issue a fine. That’s how association governance works. Video evidence is not required and, in fact, rarely exists. It is the Board’s duty to maintain peace and order in the community. The rules violation enforcement system is really all they have at their disposal to do so. From what you have told me, it sounds like your tenant has been mistaken for someone else. Once you explain that to the Board, the fines and threat of fines will likely cease. Good luck!