Condominium ownership is more than just a real estate investment. When you own a condominium unit you are also dedicating yourself to the condominium community. The challenge for many is in maintaining balance between enforcing the rules contained in the bylaws and living in harmony in a shared community.
The ultimate desire for most owners is to be able to enjoy living in the condominium and to be able to sell their unit for fair market dollar at any time.
Bylaws are a framework for the condominium board of directors to manage, administer, control and maintain the property while enforcing rules in a fair and equitable manner. Often bylaws are enforced rigidly, ignored or challenged by owners and board members alike. This can create an imbalance that is often difficult to correct, yet impacts all owners, and in some cases the property value.
Condo Unit Owners
For the owners of individual units, it is critical to understand the fact that the bylaws of a condominium corporation are an agreement between the corporation and each owner to the same extent as if each had signed every section of the bylaws. This means the owners, upon purchase of a condominium unit, agree to live in compliance with the bylaws, and the corporation agrees to operate in accordance with the bylaws. It is important for buyers and owners to know the obligations, duties and restrictions on occupancy that are contained in the bylaws. It is equally important for the board to inform owners of the expectations and application of the bylaw and to ensure all bylaws are enforced fairly and equally on all occupants, owners and tenants alike.
It is essential for the corporation and the board to respect that bylaws are not a tool to use to intrude on an owners’ right to fair use and enjoyment, or to prejudicially apply a bylaw. For example: the practice has been to approve pets provided they comply with any restrictions in the bylaws. An owner who has habitually been late in making payments, who has questioned increasing condo fees and money spent now applies for dog. The dog fits all the criteria that other dogs have received approval. The board is acting in improper conduct to deny this owner the right to have a dog. If the dog becomes a problem, then the board may enforce the bylaw to remove the dog to the same degree this bylaw is applied to any owner. The opposite is also important. Owners who use bylaws to attack fellow owners or the board that they simply do not like are equally acting in improper conduct.
Property Management Company
The importance of having a licensed property management company present to assist with any disputes cannot be understated. They can act as a mediator and impartial party in the event that things get too heated to be resolved between the owners and the board. But their role can extend further than just that of an intermediary. An experienced property management company can also suggest amendments to current bylaws, or propose new ones that may benefit everyone involved. Think of them as a trusted advisor that’s there to keep things calm and sort out disagreements.
The truth is that the balance is in the middle. Bylaws are written to enable a board to have resources when needed to remedy a problem that could result in negatively impacting the majority of owners or the overall property values. Minutes record the business of the condominium including the bylaw offences and actions taken. This can impact a prospective buyer’s decision to buy in one project over another.
Whether you are a board member or an owner, being aggressive or ignoring bylaws can cause an imbalance. Using bylaws to control or restrict owners unreasonably is often the cause for resistance from owners. Having a clearly communicated policy on bylaw enforcement, including a process for appeal goes a long way toward creating this fair and equitable community.
Looking to hire a licensed property management company?
Braden Equities Inc. has been successfully managing condo buildings in Edmonton since the 1970s. A lot has changed since then, but our commitment to the residents living in each building we manage has not. Contact us today.