A.R. from Massachusetts writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I am the owner of a condo and live there. An amendment recently made to the condo’s rules and regulations now states that unit owners, for condos unoccupied for >72 hours from Oct. 15th to Apr. 15th, now must register a local Unit Care Taker with the Trustee President through his web site, and we must now obtain a Freeze Alarm warning light, to be located in the front window, for him to monitor. I bought a low temperature “wireless” alarm that makes a noise instead of tripping a light, from Home Depot. The same as smoke/fire/carbon monoxide, and water leak detectors. The President told me that my device must be evaluated by the Board for approval, and is not valid with the current rules. This Freeze Alarm warning light he wants me to buy, when I take short senior trips, is NOT available from retailers, and can only be obtained by making an internet purchase, for example, Amazon.com, and DIYControls, Inc. and etc.. I suspect a conflict of interest, when it comes to what I must buy and who/how my unit gets monitored. I can monitor the unit temperature and alarms by wi-fi security devices that notify me by my cell phone, no matter where I am at. Also, his web site is accessible without any username or password, and is not secure. His web site is http:// and NOT https://. There was a very recent sensitive information leak notice. My children do not want me registering them to him because of this. The Property Manager does have my Emergency contact information. They (the Property Manager) are supposed to be the primary contact if/when there is an emergency. Can I be fined by not following his demands, where my process and devices do the same job, and as well?
Mister Condo replies:
A.R., when a condo or HOA sets rules and standards, they are enforceable as enacted unless they violate the law or the unit owner’s rights. From what you have told me here, the acceptable Freeze Alarms need to be purchased as specified in the condo rules. If that means the unit you have bought isn’t on the list, it doesn’t satisfy the requirement and you are out of compliance, even though you have provided an alternate solution that you feel is reasonable. As for website security and such, until and unless there is a data breach that you can trace back to your association, I do not believe you can refuse to use the provided system. That being said, if a data breach does occur and you wish to sue after the fact, you would very likely have a case. You should contact an attorney for a legal answer on your query as I only offer friendly advice in this column. I suspect that you are correct in your conflict of interest assertion but it is only that. If I were you, I would take the next opportunity to vote this person out of office, thus ending the potential for a conflict of interest and allowing for more responsible leadership of your association. All the best!