In a recent blog we commented that many condominiums are still using rules prepared by the developer, which may not adequately address the concerns of the condominium community. From a compliance perspective the condominium corporation is in a stronger position when it has a rule that addresses a specific situation, rather than relying on a broad general rule.
Condominium boards should consider adding rules that address the following:
Holiday Decorations - Often there are general rules that deal with common elements, including exclusive use common elements, but nothing specific about holiday decorations. Will the Corporation allow lights and other decorations outside on balconies? Will the Corporation allow lights and decorations on the interior of units but visible from the outside? What about door decorations? How long should the decorations be permitted to stay in place?
Harassment - Almost every workplace today has a harassment policy. For a residential condominium, while the condominium may be a workplace for the employees of the Corporation and the manager, to the residents it is their home. A rule prohibiting harassment and requiring compliance with the Corporation's harassment policy needs to address not only harassment of the employees of the Corporation and the manager, but also harassment directed at the board members and other residents.
Hoarders - In the event that any resident in a condominium accumulates an excessive amount of garbage, paper or other items in the unit, this could constitutive a fire hazard, as well as a health hazard due to the increased likelihood of attracting vermin. Hoarding may also jeopardize or affect the Corporation's insurance. Having a rule that specifically addresses hoarding will be helpful for the Corporation to effectively deal with this problem.
Fobs and Access Cards - Many condominiums use fobs and access cards for access to the building and the common elements, but many rules deal only with keys. Rules regarding fobs and access cards can address how many are permitted per unit, replacement costs and the duty of residents to immediately report lost or missing fobs or access cards so that they can be de-activated.
Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detectors - Because of the proximity of the units in a condominium it may be helpful to have a rule that specifically obligates owners to have working smoke/carbon monoxide detectors and to change the batteries on a regular basis, whether or not they are already required by the applicable by-laws.
Balconies, Patios and Terraces - Many developer rules only deal with alterations to these areas, but fail to specifically address what kinds of items are permitted or prohibited i.e. seasonal furniture, bicycles, etc.
Well-drafted rules that address a plethora of situations that may arise can be of valuable assistance when a condominium corporation is facing behaviour or activity or an omission by a resident that is not desired by a majority of the residents. They will also provide guidance to the residents so that they will know what is expected of them.