Many condo owners feel like they are not in control. They must follow condo association rules to the letter or else, face steep fines and fees. While compliance is certainly a prerequisite for living in a residential community, that doesn’t mean that you have to endure injustices or incompetence from your association. Always keep in mind these legal rights for condo owners.
What Are the Legal Rights for Condo Owners?
When owners purchase a unit in a condo association, they agree to take on certain duties and responsibilities, such as paying association dues and complying with the governing documents. In exchange, they receive condominium ownership rights, which gives owners the authority to use their unit in a manner that affords them a high quality of life.
Here’s a brief recap of the different documents that govern a condo association:
Condo Bylaws vs Rules and Regulations vs Declarations
- Condo bylaws outline the procedures for how the association is to be run, particularly by the board of directors. This governing document includes the number of board members, duties and responsibilities of the board, length of board member service terms, frequency of board meetings, and board election and quorum requirements.
- Declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) establish the “ground rules” for the condo association. This governing document also establishes the obligations of condo owners to the association and vice versa.
- Condo association rules and regulations refer to the “do’s and don’ts” in your community. The board of directors creates rules and regulations that are in line with the condo association’s CC&Rs. While CC&Rs are recorded with the county recorder’s office, the rules and regulations are not. Thus, rules and regulations have more flexibility and can be amended according to established procedures.
- Federal, state, and local laws will always prevail over a condo association’s governing documents. If there is a stipulation that goes against condo laws, they then become unenforceable HOA rules. Condo laws vary by state so it’s important to check your local laws when determining legal rights for condo owners.
7 Legal Rights for Condo Owners
Buying a condo affords you certain rights such as exclusive ownership of your unit, the authority to rent or lease the unit, and the freedom to use shared facilities without fees. To have a pleasant condo living experience, keep in mind these legal rights for condo owners.
1. The Right to Access Condo Documents
Condo owners can, at any time or for any purpose, request to see the association’s governing documents, as well as financial reports, annual budgets, board meeting minutes, vendor contracts, reserve account statements, and insurance policies.
The only exception would be for documents with confidential information such as delinquencies. Condo owners also have the right to inspect these documents and make personal copies. Following a written request, the board must provide the documents to the condo owner.
2. The Right to Equality and Non-Discrimination
It is against the law for condo associations to discriminate against their owners based on race or ethnicity, nationality, religion, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, and disability.
Condo associations must abide by federal laws such as the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as state and local laws.
Condo owners with disabilities also have a right to reasonable accommodations such as ramps and handrails so that they can have full access to their unit and the condo’s facilities. Similarly, service animals and emotional support animals are allowed as reasonable accommodations even if the condo has a “no pet” policy.
3. The Right to Notice and Meetings
Condo owners have a right to receive adequate notice of upcoming board meetings. Notices must be placed on common areas, including the entrance and elevators, or announced through text, email, social media, or the association website.
Condo owners also have the right to requisition an association meeting and request items to be put on the board meeting agenda. While condo owners are free to attend board meetings (except for closed sessions), they are not allowed to comment — unless the board president has opened the floor for discussion.
4. The Right to Run and Vote During Elections
Condo owners have the right to run for board positions and vote during the annual board elections. You can vote in person or by proxy, as long as there is authentic authorization. The election process should proceed as outlined in the association’s bylaws. This includes adequate notice prior to the board elections, the date of the elections, quorum requirements, and candidate requirements.
5. The Right to Protest
Condo owners have a right to expect that their board will perform their fiduciary duties to the association. If not, you have the right to remove board members who abuse their authority or are unable to fulfill their duties. Condo owners also have the right to protest rules and regulations that are unfair, discriminatory, or onerous.
6. The Right to Disciplinary Hearings and Arbitration
As a condo owner, you have the right to a disciplinary hearing before a violation fine or punishment is imposed. Condo owners can appeal the violation or explain their situation during the disciplinary hearing. Meanwhile, if a condo owner is in conflict with the board or another owner, he or she also has the right to arbitration or mediation to resolve the dispute.
7. File Legal Action Against the Association
Condo owners have the right to take legal action against the association or other condo owners. They can file for damages or injunctive relief on board members or owners who fail to comply with the governing documents and condo laws.
Legal Rights for Condo Owners: Fighting For Your Rights
Going against your association can be scary, especially since the board has the power to impose fines and other punishments. However, it’s important to fight for your legal rights as a condo owner. If you see that something is not right, speak your mind. In turn, though, condo owners must also fulfill their duties to the association. When both condo owners and board members work together, the entire condo community can live peacefully and harmoniously.
If you want more transparency for your condo association management, feel free to contact the Condo Manager team today! Call us at (800) 626-1267, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact us online to learn more about our HOA software solutions.
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