Rules for Making Good Condo Rules

June 2020

In high-rise and condo communities, where people live so close to each other, things work best when everyone is cooperative.  Since this is not always the case rules, and their enforcement, are necessary to ensure harmonious living.

Rules exist to make a community more pleasant to live in.  Good condo rules are based on common sense and drafted with the best interests of the community in mind.

There are times when condo rules may be unenforceable, biased or go beyond what is allowed.  They may seek to impose penalties.  Such rules can create resentment, animosity and even litigation.

Condo rules are the third tier of governing documents after the declaration and bylaws.  Both declaration and bylaws are deemed law and will be enforced during a legal dispute.  Condo rules are more flexible and address how we are expected to live in the community.  They address various prohibitions and conduct in common areas.  During a legal dispute condo rules can be interpreted as being reasonable or unreasonable.  A judge can decide that a rule is unenforceable.

Legalization of marijuana is one situation where some condo boards sought to prohibit its use by implementing a rule.  This approach can be popular since no vote of owners is required.  It is also unenforceable if smoking is allowed in the declaration or bylaws.

Good condo rules should not over-regulate resident behaviour.  They change over time to accommodate current concerns.  Increased popularity of hardwood floors may require sound control measures in buildings where sound may transfer between units.  A younger population with frequent late night parties may necessitate rules about noise, waste disposal and conduct in common areas.

Good condo rules do not restate what appears in other governing documents.  They conform to applicable laws, are reasonably applied and do not target specific groups.

Dogs provide a good example of how condo rules are updated.  At one point dogs were prohibited in many condo communities.  Today a prohibition on pets is not allowed.  Condo rules are used to ensure conduct of pets, and pet owners, is within accepted standards.  This may include the number and size of allowable pets.

Condo rules can be rescinded or changed by a condo board.  These changes may be the result of complaints from residents.  A conscientious board will seek to draft a more effective rule when presented with reasonable concerns about an existing rule.

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