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Linda Palfi
CNC Properties
Box 47033 Creekside, Calgary, Alberta
P: 403-998-7732
F: 403-592-8002

Rules augment condo bylaws


The details of good governance in a condominium can sometimes be found in policies or "house rules" that stand alongside the condo corporation's bylaws. While Alberta's Condominium Property Act gives condo Boards general authority to make such rules, most condo bylaws also have a more specific clause that allows the Board to make rules for day-to-day living within the development.


In a high-rise apartment condominium, for example, there is usually no bylaw that says not to use the garbage chute at 4 a.m. Yet for those who are not guided by common sense, a house rule may well prohibit the chute's use overnight. Next door, in a building or a townhouse development where dogs are permitted, there may be Board-created rules requiring use of leashes and immediate removal of droppings. Again, a reference to the bylaws alone won't tell you everything.


Speaking of dogs, here's a cautionary tale. Condo buyers who have a dog sometimes glance at bylaws and see that the Board has the authority to allow pets, so they lay down their money and bring Fido to the door. Oops; it's a surprise on possession day to learn that dogs are not being authorized by the condo Board. In fact, some apartment-style condo buildings see a resolution passed at each annual general meeting prohibiting the Board from authorizing any dogs for the ensuing year. The Act is very clear that condominium Boards are bound by direction given at annual general meetings.


In high-rise condo buildings allowing small dogs it's also common for a rule to require that these pets be carried in hallways and lobbies. For those who think such a rule is silly and overly restrictive, I have a story to tell. I once personally saw an owner step off an elevator, while leashed "Fluffy" lingered in the elevator cab. Meeting a neighbour in the hall, madam did not notice the elevator door close on poor leashed Fluffy, who was immediately whisked off to another floor. The story had a happy ending, but barely.


At Christmas time the house rules might well be checked for limitations on displays. While some people love a balcony draped with strings of blinking lights, their neighbours across the way might feel it looks more like the flashing neon sign for a cheap motel. And while some enjoy Christmas so much they'll keep decorations up from October through March, most of us think that it's reasonable to restrict seasonal balcony displays to December and January. Check the bylaws first, but ask for house rules or policies, or ask the property manager about further restrictions.


Staying with the holiday season for a moment, it's common in apartment-style condo buildings to see a rule prohibiting real Christmas trees. It's not that the Grinch chairs the condo Board, but that owners are shy of the fire hazard, of the mess in hallways of dried needles fallen from dragged-way trees, and of garbage bins overflowing with the enormous remnants of an otherwise happy season.


Condo bylaws, along with policies or house rules, are there to make our condo lifestyle safe, quiet and enjoyable. Try to adhere to your corporation's in-house rules, or become a member of your Board so you can ensure those rules are reasonable and serve your little condo community.

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