WHY HAVE CONDO BYLAWS?
Condo Bylaws are required by law to bring a condo association into existence. Condo Bylaws are the second most necessary legal document, with the first being the Condo Declaration. Usually everyone lumps the subjects covered in both as the Bylaws. Most people think they are a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo, but an attorney can quickly put them into plain English.
The Articles of Incorporation, Declaration, and Bylaws describe the nature of the condo. They may be amended from time to time. The governing Board of Directors may also add rules that further define the acceptable conduct of owners and residents. Without the Declaration and Bylaws, there would be no units. The ownership rights in the common areas are spelled out in the Bylaws.
Unlike a single family home whose owner has almost unfettered rights to use the home as he or she deems fit, the condo unit must be used only in accordance with the Bylaws of the association. The Bylaws are a contract between the condo association and the owners.
Buyers should read the legal documents before they sign a purchase contract. Some people find their dream condo and can’t wait to move in. They decide, even though they haven’t read the Bylaws, that everything will be okay and the rules just can’t be that bad. Their assumption may not be correct!
Why have Condo Bylaws? The purpose of the Bylaws is to provide for the legal structure and operation of the condo. They define the rights and obligations of both the association and its owners. The Bylaws protect owners, enhance property values, and promote harmonious living.
The Condo Bylaws contain information such as:
- A description of the property and units
- Insurance requirements
- What parts of the condo you own
- A list of the percentages of ownership (the percentages indicate how much the condo maintenance fees are for each owner)
- What common areas you can use in conjunction with the other residents
- The number of votes that the owner of each unit has in the association
- What types of laundry facilities are present
- What types of storage are present
- What kinds of recreational facilities are available
- What types and sizes of vehicles are permitted
- What kinds and sizes of pets are permitted
- Whether leasing is permitted
- Whether signs are permitted
- What types and colors of window treatments are permitted
- Whether businesses are permitted to be conducted in the units
- The penalties for lack of compliance to the Bylaws
In order to get detailed information about the Bylaws, you should thoroughly review them. A request for inspection should not be denied by the board or the management company. However, condo associations can be besieged by requests from the owners to inspect the Bylaws. Many of these requests are legitimate, but some are improper. Some requests are intended to harass the association or to gather information that will be used to sue the association.
Because the job of the board is to serve the interests of the entire association, it is important for board members to know which requests to grant and which to deny. Boards should create a written records inspection policy and publish it to all owners.
The following documents ARE open for review by all owners:
- Articles of Incorporation, Declaration, Bylaws, Amendments, Rules
- Minutes of Board and Owners’ Meetings, Ballots, Sign-in Sheets, Proxies, Voting Records
- Rosters of the owners, Board Members, Committee Members, Renters
- Plans, Permits, Warranties, Maps provided by the Developer of the condo
- Newsletters & Welcome Packet
- Insurance Policies
- Risk Management Program
- Professional Management Contract
- Accounting Records---Operating and Reserve Fund Budgets, Audited/Reviewed Financial Statements, Current Balance Sheet, Profit & Loss Statements, Bank(s) Statements, Contracts
- Owners’ Statements of Account, Collection Policy
The following records are NOT available for inspection:
- Legal Correspondence, Opinions, Litigation Records
- Confidential information obtained by the condo for approval of leases, sales, or transfers of units
- Records that may invade an individual condo owners or employees privacy
What are the guidelines for record inspection?
- Fill out a written request form (hopefully your condo has one).
- Specify which records you want to see.
- State the reasons you want to see them.
- Request to inspect the records at times and on days convenient to the board or management company.
- Be prepared to pay the inspection costs (copying, clerical fees)
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