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May 26, 2005

Condominium bylaws

What is not allowed?

Gerald Rotering

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To answer questions about what is prohibited by most condominium corporation bylaws, a reply can usually consist of two words: “common sense”. A parallel would be the Criminal Code of Canada. Virtually no one has ever read it. Yet we all know darn well what we’re not allowed to do!

In condominium we’re choosing a lifestyle that must, by its nature, be regulated with custom-made rules. So before buying into a condominium project, the shopper should ALWAYS read the bylaws, and in particular the “do not” sections that they will have to live by. Even investor buyers planning to rent out a suite should be very aware of the rules, as they will apply equally to tenants. In fact, condo suite renters should review a copy of the bylaws, or perhaps this column, before they are given the keys.

Before reciting the list of common “do nots”, we should acknowledge that bylaws are what make condo life desirable, and what distinguish it from poorly-run rental developments. Bylaws also state requirements of what owners WILL do, and detail the duties of the corporation and its Board of Directors. It’s an entire package that works together to make sure that everyone pulls their weight, and that miscreants who would make your life difficult can be dealt with.

These “do nots” are most often found in residential condo bylaws. Read your own, though, to see the actual rules you live by.

Owners shall NOT:
    *    Run a commercial businesses other than a permitted “home occupation”.
    *    Use the property for any illegal activity, or for other than as a single-family residential dwelling.
    *    House more than the number of people specified in the bylaws.
    *    Interfere with others’ enjoyment of their property.
    *    Cause a nuisance or a hazard in a living unit or on the common property.
    *    Make undue noise. This extends to musical instruments, and may restrict renovators to limited hours.
    *    Keep any animal other than as allowed by the bylaws (or by Board policy, as authorized by the bylaws).
    *    Throw or drop anything from windows or balconies, or shake out mops or dusters.
    *    Hang over windows (even inside) or balconies anything esthetically unpleasing, nor cover windows with opaque material or tin foil.
    *    Display signs, advertising, “for sale” signs (even inside, but seen through windows) or Realtor lockboxes.
    *    Alter the exterior of the building in any way.
    *    Undertake any renovation that affects common property or building structure.
    *    Hang laundry, other than inside the living unit.
    *    Allow the property to become unsightly or unsanitary or unfit for human habitation.
    *    Use balconies or other exclusive-use areas for storage of any kind; often bicycles are included.
    *    Erect or mount any antenna, satellite dish or the like.
    *    Trespass on other owners’ exclusive-use areas, or on common property housing mechanical services.
    *    Feed or harbour squirrels, pigeons, gulls or other birds or animals.
    *    Smoke on the common property, or allow any guest or invitee to do so.
    *    Use parking stalls for other than parking a motor vehicle, which must be operational and licensed.
    *    Perform any automotive repairs in parking stalls or on any common property.
    *    Allow any propane-powered vehicle into an indoor or underground parkade.

There is far more to condominium bylaws, of course, than this list of common-sense “don’ts”. The bylaws establish the authority for the corporation and its Board to run the show on your behalf, creating the structure and the central management that makes condo living so attractive. Some more detail is available through my web site under the title “Bylaws equal peace and good government”. But there’s no substitute for reading your own bylaws. Pour yourself a coffee. Get out your highlighter pen. ‘Enjoy the read!   

Gerald Rotering  is a condominium-specialist Realtor with Realty Executives, Chinook City, is President of his own building’s condominium corporation, and is a professional member of the Canadian Condominium Institute. Extensive further information about condominiums can be found on his web site: http://www.CondosInCalgary.com.

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