When you buy a condo, you’re also buying into a particular community. Most condo owners love that they don’t have to deal with landscaping, plowing, or any of the maintenance around the property grounds, most of which are made possible by community bylaws.
If you’re thinking about purchasing a condo, it’s important to read these regulations and be sure you understand what’s expected of you. Our guide can help you get started.
What Are the Bylaws?
In a nutshell, bylaws are rules that each member of a condo community is expected to follow. They typically include details about the organizational structure of the condo board and the voting procedures. There are also usually rules governing behaviour in the community.
Who Makes the Bylaws?
In most cases, the rules are initially set by the developers of the community, but ownership of these rules eventually transfer to the board. Any unit owner can propose a new bylaw at the annual meeting, but the condo board will eventually vote on whether or not to continue.
Examples of Bylaws
Be a Good Neighbour
Most bylaws are meant to encourage being a good neighbour. For instance, the bylaws might state you can't play loud music after 10 pm, dispose of your garbage improperly, and you can only keep so many pets in your condo. Most of these rules are common sense - if you wouldn’t want someone else doing it, you shouldn’t do it yourself.
Other bylaws place restrictions on the look of the property. They might specify acceptable colours for the exterior design of your unit or prohibit you from hanging anything on your doorway. This is to maintain the value of your unit and the community as a whole.
When it comes to the interior of your unit, however, you're able to personalize however you see fit. This includes decorating however you'd like and even doing renovations.
Use of Property
Finally, there are usually bylaws that deal with the use of common property. These might state onsite amenities (like a gym or pool) are for the use of condo residents only, or all guests need a visitor parking pass. These types of rules are put into place for the good of the entire community and to keep residents happy.
What Happens if Someone Breaks the Rules?
It’s not uncommon for people to break some of the rules. In most cases, it’s a simple misunderstanding. The condo board will notify the owner that they have breached the bylaws, and the person can easily rectify the situation.
If a condo owner continues to go against the bylaws after repeated warnings, there’s a chance he or she may be forced to sell the property. This only happens in extreme cases, but it’s a possibility.
Can Bylaws Be Changed?
A resident who wishes to change a bylaw must present the suggestion to the condo board, which will eventually come to a vote among the community. The change usually requires a two-thirds vote to pass, though this can vary. Since meetings and voting typically only occur once a year, you may have to wait if you want to change the bylaws. For this reason, it’s best to only purchase in a community with bylaws you can agree to, rather than thinking you'll be able to make changes to something you don't like.
If you want to play an active role in the way your condo community is run, you need to step up and get involved. Plan to attend the meetings. Run for a position on the board when the next election comes up, and be sure to vote. When you buy a condo, you’re a valuable part of the community, and it works best when you participate.
Condo bylaws are part of making sure the community keeps up its standards. When everyone is careful about following the rules, it’s a better experience for everyone involved.