Every co-op, condominium, and homeowners association has rules and regulations that residents and their guests must abide by. For the most part, they’re usually pretty straightforward and have minimal impact: no 200-pound dogs, no smoking in the mailroom, no bowling in the hallways.
Sometimes, however, a board will try to implement a rule that oversteps its bounds, is unenforceable, or just rubs residents the wrong way. Take Chicago condo owner Pam D., for example. She and her husband are owners of a large loft on the fifth floor of a condo building in Chicago’s hip Printer’s Row neighborhood. They have lived there happily for over four years, and never taken much issue with the various rules and regulations dictated by the condo’s board. Until now.
“I bike to work at least three times a week and have done so for years,” says Pam. “And out of nowhere, we get a notice that says the bike rack in the basement is now first-come, first-served.”
This wouldn’t normally be an issue, but after the interior hallways got a fresh paint job and new carpet, the condo board had concerns about handlebars bumping and chipping paint, and muddy wheels leaving tracks—so the bike storage notice also dictated that residents were no longer allowed to bring bikes into their apartments. The basement bike rack is packed—there isn’t an inch free—leaving no place for Pam to park her bike.
So what makes a good rule, and how can condo and co-op boards know the rules they're making and enforcing are fair, just, and legal? The answer is part protocol, part common sense.