It is important for board members and managers to have an understanding of various cultural and religious beliefs of the residents in their communities. Interesting issues will sometimes crop up which may not appear to be relevant to certain individuals but to others, can have a detrimental and severe impact on their lives including the use or marketability of their condominium units.

Just look at what happened in Vancouver, when some angry Asian residents in a high-end condominium learned that a hospice was planned for the building next door to theirs. Those condo residents believe that Death is the Yin and Live is the Yang which means that bringing the Yin and Yang close to each other (the hospice and their condominium building), would bring bad luck. Their concern was that this could result in the failure of their business, family breakups, loss of money, sickness and even death.

For those Asian residents who paid close to $1 million or more for their condo units, this was a serious concern for them. The problem is that there is little that this community could do other than contact their politicians and proceed with voicing their concerns at the Municipal level.

Condominium corporations do have more control where the property is located within their corporation. Many condominiums have commercial units which may or not have restricted uses set out in the declaration. Boards may want to be proactive and consider reviewing the declaration to see whether it may be worthwhile to go through the process of amending the declaration to restrict certain uses that may impact on the residents in the building.

One of our client condominium corporations recently amended its declaration by getting 80% consent of the unit owners in order to restrict the use of the commercial space to prevent a funeral parlour, a place of worship, adult video and gambling establishments. It was not an easy process and many of the unit owners disagreed as to what types of restrictions should be included. But after various meetings and open discussions with the unit owners, the amendment was successful.

Although it does take most of the residents to agree when the board of directors decide to amend the declaration to restrict uses, this is achievable if the community is behind the decision.