Part of being a resident within a condo involves fulfilling responsibilities to the community—maintaining your property, paying maintenance fees, and, maybe most importantly, following the rules. While every condo is unique and has its own set of guidelines, there are some regulations that are necessary to maintain structure in all communities. Read on to learn five of the most common rules, what they cover, and why they have staying power.
Why Many Condos Adopt These Five Rules
To some homeowners, community rules may seem prohibitive, but they’re there for a good reason. Condos set the most essential guidelines based on a combination of their governing documents and applicable local, provincial, and federal laws. In addition to securing your financial home investment, these five rules are designed to:
- Preserve the aesthetics of an area. Rules guarantee the look and feel of a community remain desirable.
- Protect and enhance home values. Maintenance standards ensure that a neighborhood is appealing to prospective buyers and homes stay structurally and visually sound for decades.
- Enforce the community’s blyaws, rules, and declarations. These are legally binding documents that outline the rights and responsibilities of the condo, board members, and homeowners. Community guidelines often act as an extension of these regulations, emphasizing their most important aspects, while also establishing additional provisions.
- Maintain the property of the condo. Certain guidelines help maintain community property, including the structures, landscape, and amenities so that all members can enjoy the place they call home.
The Five Most Common Rules
A community’s specific set of rules is determined by a variety of factors. While size, location, and other attributes differentiate communities across North America, you’ll generally find these five standard guidelines everywhere:
- Architectural controls. Rules may limit homeowners on the improvements or modifications they can make to their property. Examples include restricting exterior colors to certain shades, requiring specific roofing materials, or putting a cap on roof heights.
- Holiday and lawn decoration restrictions. Communities may require residents to put up and take down holiday decorations within a window of time or restrict garden gnomes on front lawns.
- Noise complaint policies. Policy limits may pertain to music at parties, construction, and even barking dogs.
- Exterior home maintenance. Keeping lawns, gardens, and trees in tip-top shape benefits the overall community. Residents may be required to keep their grass under a particular height or limit the number of trees in the front of the house, where applicable.
- Home occupancy limits. This is often controlled for safety reasons. For example, in an active adult community, occupancy limits help to ensure that potential emergency evacuations from properties go smoothly for older residents.
Why These Rules Maintain Popularity Long-Term
When you purchase a home that’s part of a condo, you automatically become a member of the condo. You sign forms, agree to abide by the governing documents, and pay maintenance fees. You, as a homeowner, have certain duties to the community, and in return, expect the condo to deliver on its promise to protect your home’s value and sustain a comfortable living environment.
One of the best ways for the community’s leadership to meet those expectations is by enacting and maintaining clearly defined rules. What gives these five common rules staying power is that they’re transparent, easy to follow, and ultimately benefit everyone in the community.
Options for Changing Rules
Rules are designed to do good for the community and enhance the condo lifestyle. However, it’s possible that some rules in your governing documents may seem ambiguous or vague. If that’s the case, call on your condo's board of directors to reexamine the rules and regulations. By speaking up and working with them, you’re demonstrating good stewardship and positioning the community for success.
To be most effective, know what rule you’d like to change and present your proposed amendment with informed confidence. Proposed rules should be reasonable, enforceable, and related to something that the condo has authority over—protecting and enhancing property values. The goal is to get board members to share your vision and work strategically to enact positive change.