Understanding Condo Rules and Regulations
The extent of differing condominium association rules, regulations, and governing documents can be a challenge to keep up with. Understanding them and knowing what the ramifications of bylaws being violated are, is crucial for board members and condo residents alike.
Here, we have summarized and simplified condominium bylaws, declarations, rules, and regulations.
Darren Robertson, a Northern Virginia Condo Realtor, told us, “A condo or townhouse declaration is a document that declares that the condominium has been created. It creates the association and declares it a not-for-profit corporation.”
This document is then recorded in land records for the county, which makes it legal. The declaration is typically made up of any articles that define the association, defined as ‘articles of incorporation.’
For example, the declaration names each owner and their percentage interest in the condominium, thus determining voting rights as well as condo fee percentages. The documents also define common area rights, how the board will use and implement assessments and how the association will handle maintenance.
HOA and condo bylaws define in detail the daily operations of the association. These documents outline:
who association members are
when and how members will elect a board of directors
who is eligible to vote
when meetings will take place
the quorum legal requirements
the maintenance fund
the role of the board
The bylaws will often also outline procedures for creating the association’s annual budget and determine the assessment amounts.
The relationship between the condo declaration and its bylaws can be complex to understand. For example:
The Declarations set out the use and occupancy rules of both the units and common areas, whereas the condo bylaws outline what remedies are to be used when these rules are breached.
The Declarations provide a loose definition of the board and its role, whereas the condo bylaws detail individual roles and terms, how Presidents are to be elected, and may even list board powers individually.
Association boards should ideally reevaluate condo bylaws every few years to ensure relevancy, and amend as required. Condo bylaws should therefore also include an article that details how they are to be amended.
Condominium association rules and regulations
Association rules and regulations are the guidelines set out for owners to follow, and apply to both their guests and tenants. These can include pet rules, holiday decorations, satellite dish installations and flag flying. Because the purpose of the Association is to act in the best interests of the common good and hold fast the value of the development despite an individual owner’s disputes, the rules and regulations are often the most controversial decisions made during development.
Before buying into a condo association, it is imperative to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations and be sure that you can live happily within their parameters. For example, you may feel perfectly comfortable with them in general, until you learn that your golden retriever weighs too much to be permitted to reside at your unit on account of the rule that stipulates no pets over ten pounds.
What happens when rules and regulations or bylaws are violated?
General guidelines for association living are contained within the condo bylaws, as well as definitive approaches to managing the violation of bylaws by association members. When you buy into an association, you are agreeing to abide by the terms as outlined in the governing documentation. Bylaws are legally binding and the association can instigate legal action against you if you violate them. Here are some remedy examples that a board may take:
Charge a violating owner fines
Enter a unit and at the owner’s expense, remove a violating item or structure
At the owner’s expense, engage in legal proceedings to rectify the violation
In extreme cases, a board may have the right to sell a property and terminate an owner’s right to own
Do your due diligence
Not only is it crucial to familiarize yourself with a development’s rules, regulations and covenants prior to buying in, it can help to ulilitize a real estate agent who is familiar with planned developments, since there are a number of unusual factors involved in these purchases when compared to buying single-family homes.
Is a planned development lifestyle for you? You know yourself best. Suitability depends not only on your finances, but upon your tolerance for rules and regulations, your enthusiasm for sharing amenities and how comfortable you are with what is essentially a self-government, as most condo associations are run by volunteers who reside in the development.