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May 01, 2014

ACOA – Common sense and condominiums

Common sense goes a long way in living in a multi-family setting

Bernice M. Winter

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Common sense and condominium appear to be a conundrum. The two words at first glance look associated with one another! Condominium / conundrum? How often do the words “but it’s common sense” come out of the mouths of board members, condo owners, lawyers, insurers, sales people, etc.?

When someone leaves a window open and a pipe breaks, then argues about the responsibility to pay for the damages to surrounding units. The comments always come back to  ‘but it’s common sense — why would all the other owners be willing to pay for the damages caused by a single occupant?’

The same comment follows the owner who is vehemently defending the right to allow his dog or cat to wander the halls or to use the common area landscaping as their personal litter box, but feels picked on when asked for a deposit for damage to common property. Then there’s the single gal who has found Mr. Right that gets frustrated with the condo board when she receives the note saying visitor parking is not to be used every night by her guest. 

You get the idea, we all as individuals have our own idea of what common sense is. We all have the right to use and enjoyment of our home, condo or single titled property. This common sense conundrum is not exclusive to condominium living, yet there appears to be a resistance to being expected to live by the “rules”. 

In a single titled home you are not able to put a four-storey garage in your back yard, and even a standard garage would require a permit. If you neglect your home or yard, let your dog bark all night or have wild and noisy parties you are exposing yourself to a visit from the local bylaw office or the police. 

I agree with all of you, it comes down to common sense. So why is it that an estimated 50 per cent of the time, volunteer condo board members are dialoging about how to get people to respect the rules in the condo bylaws? Why are board members selling their condos because of the resistance owners have to being expected to live according to the bylaws?

After 39 years in condominium, I have concluded that common sense cannot be prescribed. Until we evolve into a generation of people who voluntarily consider what is best for the whole community instead of personal agendas, we will need to accept that bylaws will continue to get more restrictive, rights of owners will be regulated and the fight for the right to be right will continue.    

The good news is that condominiums that have owners who chose to be respectful in living in community compliment the wonderful experience of condominium ownership. 

As a condominium community, you set this tone by how you respond or react. Remember, in the end whether you are a board member, an owner or a tenant you are living with walls for boundaries and common sense should prevail.

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