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Condominium Modifications & Alterations

by | Apr 30, 2019 | Firm News |

It’s Better to Ask Permission than For Forgiveness

Blog Improvements

You’re finally a property owner and you’ve purchased a condominium unit that nearly fits your needs perfectly. The days of answering to landlords are over. Just a couple modifications and this place will be PERFECT!

So you’ve moved in and you’re setting up a minor couple projects. You want to take down a wall, remove that 70’s bathroom sink, and you know you’ve gotta do something about that back porch. You might think that you’ve paid for this place (or at the least the bank has) and that it’s within your rights to modify as you’d like.

Here’s when you need to remember back to the whirlwind that was purchasing this property. One of those hundreds of documents that you signed was your Condominium Rider. There was also the deed to the property. The legal description found in the deed stated that you were buying a condominium unit. The fact that your name is on the deed to a condominium unit automatically requires you to comply with the restrictions found in the Master Deed, Bylaws, and Rules and Regulations of the condominium. Remember that condominium units can have attached and detached units. Just because you don’t share a wall, doesn’t mean you do not live in a condominium. In fact, many people who buy “homes” are actually buying a condominium unit in what is known as a “site condominium.” Site condominiums are becoming more and more popular, so make sure you know what you are buying before you buy it.

In most cases, the restrictions set forth for condominium owners (known as “co-owners”) are much stricter than those imposed by a home owner subject to the restrictions in a subdivision governed by a Home Owners Association. That is because in many instances co-owners share walls or other common spaces or amenities that home owners in subdivisions do not.  In most cases, a co-owner may not alter or modify the exterior of the unit or anything attached to it without permission. Uniformity of appearance is very important in the world of condominiums. If you like being able to express your personal style, a condominium might not be the place for you. Also, it might not just be the exterior of the unit that you cannot modify without permission, but the interior as well, especially if you share common walls, plumbing, or other utilities.

In order to make sure these restrictions are adhered to, the Condo Association’s Board of Directors will require you to notify them and get approval before any modifications or alterations. This could be for something as simple as replacing a front door. Our advice is that it’s best to get approval BEFORE you make any modifications and get that approval in writing. If the Condo Board finds out that these modifications were made without approval, they may require you to return the project to its original state. It could cost you thousands of dollars.

It might even be written into the Bylaws that if you made a modification with without approval that you will incur a fine. Last month’s blog touched on the topic of how fines are collected (link here). This can lead to slippery slope of late fees and potential legal fees.

If you have any questions it’s best to reach out to your Condo Association Board or your condo’s property manager. If you feel as though you have a request that is reasonable and it’s not getting approved or you’re now in trouble for modifying something you received approval for, that’s where we can help. Feel free to reach out for a phone consultation.

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