Condominium ownership is more than just a real estate investment. When you own a condominium unit you are also a part of the condominium community. Like any community, there will be groups of friends and people you want to avoid.
The challenge for many is in maintaining balance between enforcing the rules contained in the bylaws and living in harmony in a shared community.
Condominium bylaws are the rules that regulate the condo corporation and their actions. They provide guidelines for the management, renting, and administration of the units, the common property, and any other real and personal property owned by the corporation. A board of directors is elected by the unit owners to carry out the condominium corporation’s responsibilities.
The Unwritten Bylaw Agreement
For the owners of individual units, it’s 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 said laws. It’s important for buyers and owners to know the obligations, duties, and restrictions on occupancy. It is equally important for the board to inform owners of the expectations and application of the bylaw and to ensure they are enforced fairly and equally on all owners and tenants.
Bylaws can cover a wide range of issues. Some of the initial bylaws that apply to a condo building address:
- Pets: whether they’re allowed, how many and types are allowed, whether board approval is required, etc.
- Age Restrictions: whether there is a minimum age to live in the building, whether children are allowed, etc.
- Aesthetic restrictions: colour of window coverings, whether planters are allowed on balconies, etc.
- Renovation guidelines: installation of hardwood flooring may require extra soundproofing, etc.
- Parking restrictions: types of vehicles that can be parked, visitor parking rules, number of parking spots each owner receives, etc.
- Use of amenities: hours of operation, maintenance standards, visitor policies, etc.
- Condo governance: electing board members, meeting schedule, voting procedures, bylaw amendments, etc.
Bylaw Changes and Consequences
If a resident fails to disregard a bylaw, they can be subject to a number of consequences, such as a penalty. However, a penalty can only be imposed if the bylaw specifically states that a penalty can be imposed and indicates what the penalty is. If there is a financial penalty, the bylaw must state the amount of money or range of money that could be charged for failing to obey the bylaw.
Is there a bylaw you don’t agree with? Never fear. These rules aren’t set in stone; they can be altered. If the condominium was built before May 16, 1978, the corporation would be regulated by the bylaws found in Appendix 2 of the Condominium Property Act until they are replaced. Owners can change the bylaws to suit their condo by passing a motion to adopt the changes. A special resolution, requiring the approval of 75% of the owners named on the unit titles and representing not less than 7,500 unit factors is required to make any changes to the bylaws.
Related: Alberta Condominium Property Act
Bylaws are made to help keep the peace in condo communities. There may be some that you don’t agree with, so it’s important to read them before you make your final decision to purchase the property or not. If you don’t look them over, you may find yourself owning a penalty for acting out of line. If you really dislike the bylaw though, you can change it with the help from other owners.