J.R. from outside of Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Are rules that are not disclosed in condo docs at the time of purchase enforceable? A neighbor just asserted I was violating a rule by bringing a bicycle in through the front entrance rather than the service entrance and threatened a fine. When I purchased my unit I actually read the 109 pages of condo rules that were disclosed at the time, and no such rule has passed since I moved in two years ago. Apparently, the concern is that once someone with a bicycle damaged the door so at some point a rule was passed but I have yet to see it in writing. Assuming such a rule was passed would a rule that was not disclosed and that I had no opportunity to oppose be enforceable? Bikes are my primary mode of transportation and I intentionally purchased a first-floor unit to make riding them easier. Using the service entrance would impose what I would describe as an unnecessary burden on me. Thanks so much for you input.
Mister Condo replies:
J.R., I am sorry that you find yourself in this unfortunate predicament. Of course, you are correct in stating that you should have been presented with the full set of condo documents, including rules and any amendments that the Board had passed over the years as part of your documents package. I am excited that you took the time to read the 109 pages presented to you at the time and that you are certain that there was no restriction placed upon how you would transport your bicycle through the corridors of the commonly owned entryways. Let’s talk about the rules and how they enforced briefly. A neighbor has no power to directly fine you. All any unit owner can do is complain to the Board that another unit owner, in this case, you, is violating a rule. The Board then has the option of enforcing the rule by notifying you that you have violated a rule and that you need to appear before the Board to explain and so the Board can determine if they will take further action, i.e., the fine. You would state your case that as far as you know there is no such rule on the official condo governance documents. The Board would then likely state that the rule was passed but never entered into the documents at which point you would explain that you are not bound by unofficial rules. Or the Board could do nothing, which is the most likely course of action unless the complaining neighbor persists. If the Board decides to officially and legally add the rule (a simple vote of the Board members would do it) then you would be bound by the new rules once they were properly adopted. My guess is that you have a nosy neighbor on your hands here. The problem will likely go away on its own but, if not, use the information I have provided to defend yourself. Understand that you may become bound by the rule if they properly adopt it. Then using the service entry may be your only other option. All the best!
3 thoughts on “Undisclosed Condo Rules Angering New Buyer”
Then there are those who think that there are rules when there are not. Even Board members can fall into that. Maybe there was an informal or formal Board Policy way back when that people tend to follow, yet was never made into a rule.
Question on “ If the Board decides to officially and legally add the rule (a simple vote of the Board members would do it) then you would be bound by the new rules once they were properly adopted.”.
Should the above be done as an amendment and officially recorded and copy of same shared with unit owners and future buyers? My understanding was a decision and vote in a board meeting does not override a rule mentioned in BYLAWS. After vote, they should follow the amendment process with the help of attorney so that it is written clearly in legal terms. Hence, the question.
K.K, an amendment can be passed without the legal help of an attorney. However, I advise using the attorney so that the Board doesn’t make a costly misstep. By-Laws are not commonly amended and it makes sense to do it right on those rare occasions that they are. Spending the money on the attorney is generally a best practice for the good of the association. Unit owners, current and future, definitely have to be informed of the change. Good luck!