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condo violations

13-May-2008 9:15 AM -- 8bobby
I am the chairman of our condo board. We are just 4 month old, prior to that developer had control. Can the board fine people for rules violations that have been in existence even before we took over from the developer? We sent a letter to one unit for a violation and they ignored it. So we the board had the maintenance man take down their decorations. Now the guy is going to file a lawsuit against the board for selective enforcement, failure to notify, distruction of personal property, harrassment and what ever else he can think of. Can he do this? Will our insurance cover this?.

13-May-2008 7:23 PM -- JohnnyRocket

Assuming the rules were part of the existing bylaws when the infraction occurred, it is not improper for the board to enforce them now. The violations aren't excused merely because the developer as trustee neglected to enforce them.

Regarding selective enforcement, generally it is best to enforce the rules systematically and on an equal basis. That said, the board is entitled to prioritize their actions. If there is a current safety or budgeting issue that is taking up much of the volunteer board's time, it is not inconceivable that the board might reduce their efforts regarding enforcement of dog-waste pickup or parking for a few weeks, but the overall treatment must be equal with regard to all unit owners.

With respect to the claims of the unit owner in question, his notice as to the rules comes from the condo docs. "Reminders" are nice but not required. Destruction of property, I assume his decorations were not kept and returned to him - if they were disposable in nature, or of a nominal cost (string of lights, etc), this would probably be considered a frivolous claim. You may want to see if your bylaws detail what action will be taken when these "decorations" violations occur. Harassment: there are always a few unit owners who believe that the rules are not fair or don't apply to them. Sending notices of violations and removal of decorations after said notice is ignored does not constitute harassment unless it could be clearly linked to some motive other than keeping the property maintained to the standards outlined in the condo docs.

Will your insurance cover this? Hopefully you have a Directors and Officers (D&O) policy in effect. (Your condo docs should include a requirement for the association to carry this insurance on the trustees.) This will protect the trustees as individuals from the "sound/reasonable business decisions" they make on behalf of the association.

As to the association itself, your master policy may cover your defense costs. I would consider making a review of your association's insurance policies a priority.

If you would like to discuss your issue further, feel free to contact me.

Attorney John F. Libertine

Last Edited on 13-May-2008 7:27 PM

17-Jul-2008 11:26 PM -- Johnny Mul
I live in a condo. and would like to know if Mass. condo. rules supercede condo. docs. I feel our board overstepped their bounds when they altered the landscape of the common area next to our unit by installing a well filter hidden under a fake 3 ft. boulder (this filter was suppose to be buried in the ground with rocks on top of it). We were notified while out of state, we replied and expressed our concern and felt they did not have the right to do this without a vote of the association, and asked them not to proceed until we came home on a spacific date so this could be discussed, they ignored our concern and the day before we arrived the filter was installed with this boulder covering it. We know they have the right to do certain things concerning the complex, but because of the expense of that filter and another new well + filter we believe they needed to vote even if they had the funds, but mainly because they changed the landscape, our docs say it can't be done.
I understood that Mass. condo. laws supercede regular condo. docs. and master deeds. I want to fight this but I don't want to go broke doing it if I'm misinformed. We live in another condo. in FL and were told by our board there, that that could not have been done without a vote, and that FL law supercedes their docs.
Any information you could give would be greatly appreciated.

23-Jul-2008 6:47 AM -- L Sigman Esq
You are correct that Massachusetts law supercedes condominium regualtions.

Before pursuing this, and incurring the expense of such, you should determine what your loss actually is. If the complex needed a new filter, had the budget to cover this expense, and you are not going to have higher fees or a special assessment, then you've suffered no monetary loss.

If the manner in which the filter was installed hasn't altered the landscape in such a way as to affect drainage, or the value of your unit, then the only loss may be that you don't like the way it looks. Only you can decide if this is worth the epxense of pursuing.

If you would like to discuss this furhter, please feel free to call out firm. We would be happy to discuss the matter in more detail, at no obligation to you.


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