What You Should Know About Condominium By-laws
Purchasing a condominium can be very different from buying a single family home. Both have advantages and disadvantages. One of the main differences is that while you may own the unit from your condo purchase, you share certain amenities in the condominium community.
Upon buying a condo, you will be given several documents including the Declaration, By-laws, copies of financial records of the condo, plat and plans, and rules and regulations, etc. The By-laws however, are probably the most crucial part of any condominium association documents.
What are By-Laws?
The by-laws are the rules and regulations that each condo owner must abide by. In a nutshell, the by-laws are an agreement between the corporation and each condo unit owner. They are enforced to help safeguard the interest of the owners.
When you sign the by-laws, you essentially agree to every section in the by-laws. This means that the owners agree to live in compliance with the by-laws, and the corporation agrees to operate in accordance with the by-laws.
Some items you may find in a typical by-laws of a condominium association may include:
- The qualifications needed for board members
- How the board of directors should function
- How the board should administer policies
- Oversees the maintenance and administration of the association.
- Outline community meetings, voting, proxies, budget, assessments, including special assessments, insurance coverage, and restrictions on the use of the units and the common areas.
Duties of a Condo Owner
It is necessary and key for buyers (or condo owners) to understand the obligations, duties and restrictions on occupancy that are contained in the by-laws. If you are a condo owner, or are considering purchasing a condo, it is detrimental to take the time to read through and familiarize yourself with all of the terms of the condo documents. Not only will this help you know what you’re signing up for, but it will also enable you to know your rights if something were to ever happen.
While it is your duty as an owner to familiarize yourself with these documents, it’s also the duty of the board to notify owners of any expectations outlined by the by-laws. The board is also responsible for ensuring that the by-laws are enforced justly and equally to all residents.
Problems with By-laws
Just because the by-laws are in place, doesn’t exactly mean they can’t be changed. However, it can sometimes be tricky to adopt any changes depending on the rules outlined in the by-laws. The association can change the by-laws to address certain problems like issuing a change in the voting procedures, or re assessing the term of board members.
Changes in the by-laws may be necessary if any of the following circumstances are apparent:
- If most owners believe the by-laws are not current, or are out of date.
- If the by-laws aren’t able to be enforced
- If the by-laws are disliked by a majority of unit owners
By-laws are not a negative thing, but can sometimes turn that way if ignored, or enforced too aggressively. It’s important to have a good balance and a concise document that outlines clearly the rules and actions for both the association, and the condo owners. Doing this will enable the board to work effectively, and allow the residents to live happily.