A condominium is a community of individuals each with their own living standards, customs and conduct. It is the Condominium Rules that govern the conduct of those who reside in the condominium.
A well written set of Condominium Rules is important to setting out the standards of conduct expected of condominium residents. These rules cover everything from use of amenities to noise restrictions, pets, bicycles and anything that can potentially impact on the lifestyle of other residents. Given the diverse cultures that reside within a condominium community and their different customs, it is important that the Condominium Rules communicate a single and reasonable standard expected of all residents. When these standards are not met, these same rules provide management with the tool(s) necessary to maintain harmony and ensure compliance.
When a resident or their guest(s) do not abide by the Condominium Rules, it is important that management identify the infraction(s) and enforce compliance. Enforce too harshly and owners will object. Failure to fairly and consistently enforce Condominium Rules can result in problems and conflict among neighbours. Problem residents can become a nuisance to others, safety can be compromised, building costs can increase and the majority of residents may be resentful. To cite just one example, leaving unit doors open can result in unnecessary false fire alarms – smoke from cooking – while cooking smells may permeate hallways and result in higher cleaning costs. Failure to adequately enforce Condominium Rules allow some individuals to create fear, add to maintenance and repair costs or otherwise negatively affect the lifestyle of residents.
The following approach recognizes that misunderstandings or mistakes may occur. Where there is a refusal to comply with Condominium Rules, this approach provides the necessary documentation for enforcement actions.
When a rule infraction occurs, a conversation between management and the owner or resident may be all that is necessary to address a situation. In the event of a simple misunderstanding or error, this provides an opportunity for resolution without resorting to formal or legal notices. This is most likely sufficient for the majority of situations.
First Written Notice
When an infraction continues or is repeated after a verbal notice, it should be documented in the form of a letter to the resident or owner. This notice should identify the infraction in detail, reference the specific Condominium Rule or By-law applicable, state that it was hoped the earlier conversation would have settled the matter, and request that the rule infraction be remedied. If applicable, a deadline for resolution should be specified.
Second Written Notice
When an infraction is repeated or not resolved by the date specified in the First Written Notice, a second and stronger written notice should be provided. This notice should refer to the first notice, state that the matter has not yet been resolved along with details that may not have been included in the First Written Notice, and
include a required date for compliance. In the event that the infraction is not resolved by the specified date, the consequences and applicable costs should be identified. This notice should be clearly identified as a Final Notice.
Assuming the matter is not fully resolved by the date specified in the Second Written Notice, next steps may include mediation, arbitration or court. Attorneys are likely to be involved and costs can increase. The written notices that have been provided, along with any documentation provided by the owner or resident, will be important to determining final resolution.