Eight Simple Rules for Making Effective Condo and Co-op Rules and Regulations
Living in New York City has its benefits and challenges. Living in a multi-family New York City condo and co-op building requires owners to abide by house rules, policies and procedures (condo & co-op rules and regulations). Residents usually are willing to comply because they recognize the value of these policies in helping to promote cooperation and harmony, enhance resident lifestyle and keep property values as high as possible.
As a board member, one of your most critical fiduciary responsibilities is to create new (or amend existing) house rules, policies and procedures that are relevant and serves the best interest of the many, and not the few. This could be related to apartment alteration work, moving into and out of the building, pet etiquette, smoking, or any other issue that needs formal and well-defined regulations. You also have a responsibility to minimize any confusion about new rules and to make it as easy as possible for your owners and residents to comply with them. How? These 8 tips will help your board create condo or co-op rules and regulations, that are clear and sensible.
Start with a good reason – and a good dose of common sense.
When establishing penalties, keep them aligned with the policy that has been violated and check with the condo’s or co-op’s attorney to determine the enforceability of such penalties based upon the terms and conditions of the governing documents if they are challenged. Avoid over-penalizing minor infractions, especially for first-time offenders. Your board could provide a grace period after the rule is rolled out. For example, you could begin with a friendly reminder, followed by an official violation notice, before issuing any penalties.
Be mindful of laws and ordinances.
Steven Hirsch, Executive Managing Director at FirstService Residential, New York, recommends having your building’s attorney review any new house rule or amendment before implementing it. “Your attorney can make sure it doesn’t conflict with any statutes or contradict anything that’s already in your governing documents,” he says.
Make compliance easy.
Once you’re ready to implement new condo or co-op rules and regulations, use all means of communication to let residents know about it, including emails, posted signs, newsletters and social media. It’s important for everyone in the building to be aware of the new policy and have ample time to comply before you begin issuing violation notices. You can’t expect residents to abide by new regulations if they don’t know them, and understand the underlying purpose of them.
Enforce the new house rule consistently.
An owner/resident who violates a rule should receive written notice of the violation, along with a detailed description of the penalties. Your building should also have a process for owners/residents to respond to and dispute violations.
If boards have a “relaxed” or soft enforcement approach of their house rules, there could be a perception that rules are not equally applied and open to challenge by owners/residents. If this is occurring, the board may want to consider re-introducing the house rule(s) and manage expectations by sending out a notice to all owners/residents that emphasizes the importance of these rules, the steps of the violation process and a date when strict enforcement will begin.
Leave room for special circumstances.
Educate residents about policy responsibilities.
Do a regular check of your house rules.
As a board member, it is your fiduciary responsibility to always put the interest of the entire building before yourself – especially when creating new house rules. The 8 guidelines described here will help you do just that, as well as make it easier for residents to accept new rules and comply with them.
To get started with improving the value of your community and making your like easier, contact us today