Drafting the Best Condo Rules and Regulations by a Washington D.C. Property Management Company

A very popular and common question for new condo associations is figuring out how to develop effective rules and regulations for the association. One thing that many associations do not realize is that the bylaws associated with the condo are not a full set of rules and regulations. In fact, many bylaws contain language that instructs the association board to set forth rules and regulations for how the condo association will operate.

Typically, the bylaws will specify how these rules and regulations are to be written. The main goal is to be detailed and to share information on how the association functions. The information contained in those rules and regulations should really touch upon a number of topics. For example, noise is a major issue that has to be dealt with in condos. There are often move in and move out procedures listed in the rules and regulations as well. You should have language that addresses alterations to the property, pet policies and issues around tenants and how they are to comply with the association when the owner is not living in the property.

At Chatel Real Estate, we have about 150 examples of different rules and regulations that we feel have been effective. A professional property management company with experience working with condo associations can be a great help and offer lots of guidance when it comes to establishing those rules.

The most important thing you can do is be specific. Outline the expectations you have and the consequences that will follow. For example, attaching fines to behavior that violates the bylaws or the rules and regulations is often necessary and effective. You also want to make sure that every property owner and tenant has a copy of those rules and regulations. Lots of associations charge a move in fee when a renter moves into the property. This is a very good idea, because it puts the tenant on high alert and it also gives them an opportunity to sign a copy of those rules and regulations so you know they were received.

This is a broad topic, and if you have any questions or you’d like information on how to write rules and regulations for your own condo association, please contact us at Chatel Real Estate.

Organize Your Condo Board and Responsibilities by a D.C. Property Manager

To run a successful condo association, it’s critical to properly organize the condo board and establish some defined roles for the members of that board. You want a set of clearly defined objectives and responsibilities, a great communication structure and ongoing transparency.

Roles
The most important thing a condo association board of directors can do is to be extremely clear about its responsibilities and the responsibilities of each individual board member. Put those expectations in writing so that everyone knows what is expected, and you have a marker in place which can be used to measure yourselves. When you spend a little bit of time early in the process, you will really be able to benefit everyone. You’ll also save time and provide direction for each one of your board members.

Communication
Make sure you communicate regularly as a board. Email is a terrific tool for staying in touch, and we also do a lot of work setting up message boards for the condo association boards we work with. When you use message boards, everyone has access to them and you can keep information really current. Make sure to schedule a few face to face meetings throughout the year as well. This will give you an opportunity to discuss larger items and ensure everyone knows what’s going on.

Transparency
Be as open as you possibly can with your condo association board. Any time you try to hide things or keep big secrets from one another, you’re not running the association effectively. Try to keep politics out of the board. Remember that most members of condo association boards aren’t getting paid to do the work on behalf of the association. Keep everything as calm and reasonable as possible. You’ll get more done, and you’ll have more people willing to serve on the board.

Finally, get a good property manager to work with the condo association. Look for someone who has done a lot of work with boards like yours and understands the roles of each member and how effective associations can be. It will help you tremendously to have a professional property manager involved in helping you run the daily operations of your association.

We manage over 150 condo associations in the Washington, D.C. and Alexandria area. If you have any questions about your own board or you’d like help with some specific issues, please contact us at Chatel Real Estate.

Common Area vs. Owner Responsibility by a D.C. Property Manager

One of the questions that often comes up when you own a condo or participate in a condo or homeowners association is: what’s the responsibility of an individual owner versus the responsibility of a condo association overall? It would be great if we could say that there is one solid answer that covers all condo associations everywhere. However, that is not ever going to be the case.

Responsibilities should be identified and assigned in your condo bylaws or the rules and regulations that have been adopted by the condo association board. That’s the first place to check when you aren’t sure who should cover what. The rough guideline is this – if the system or the item serves more than one unit, it would be the condo association responsibility, and if it serves just one specific unit, it’s the owner’s responsibility.

Some things are pretty clear. Elevators, for example, benefit the entire condo building, which means the repair and maintenance of elevators is up to the condo association. Appliances in your unit are only for you to use, so when they break down it will be your responsibility to have them fixed or replaced. There can be a few areas that are not as simple to determine, however. For example, plumbing and HVAC systems can be hard to ascertain. If you develop a water leak in your unit, it seems like it should be your own responsibility, but what if the leak is due to plumbing that feeds into different parts of the building? In some cases, the condo association will assume responsibility for whatever happens behind the walls. Not always, however.

The best way to address these concerns is to make sure your condo association spells out the responsibilities in the bylaws. If there is nothing in the bylaws to assign who takes care of what, they should adopt language in their regulations to help property owners know when they will be held responsible for repairs and maintenance. That way, everything is clear before something happens. Property owners will know what they are and are not responsible for.

Insurance is another matter for property owners and condo associations to grapple with. You’ll need to be covered individually for your own unit, and the association will also need to maintain its own insurance coverage.

There are a lot of specific details we can get into, so if you have any questions about what you are responsible for and what your association needs to cover, please contact us at Chatel Real Estate, and we’ll answer all the questions you have.