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Condominium By laws Are Important. Don’t Ignore them.

Why Is It Important to Know Condominium By laws?

Condominium By Laws

Photo By Daniel Oines

Condominium living provides numerous advantages that appeal to an increasing number of homeowners. The concept of condominium ownership has been present in Florida over several decades. However, the complex legal necessities are frequently unfamiliar to most condominium owners and purchasers. The term condominium is a type of property ownership where a ‘unit’ is exclusively owned by an individual and the common elements are jointly owned by all unit owners residing in the condominium. This is not to be confused with co-ops. Co-ops are mostly found up north but do exist in Florida as well. Co-ops are not bound by Condominium By laws but more on specific corporate rules as you are essentially buying a share of a company.

What are Condominium Laws?

The Florida Condominium Act has been created to benefit all the parties associated in the process of buying, owning and selling condos. Chapter 718 of Florida Statutes, also referred as the Condominium Act, along with corresponding administrative laws found in Florida Administrative Code, Chapters 61B-15 through 61B-24 are the foundation of pertinent condominium ownership related information that a purchaser must be aware of. The development of a condominium is a lengthy and technical process. The buyer, in addition to the investment considerations, must also keep in mind the significance of the condo documents that at the minimum include the Declaration of Condominium, articles on Incorporation of the Condominium Association, as well as the Condominium By laws of the association. The term Condominium By laws is often used incorrectly as the Declaration of Condominium. The Condominium By laws are merely one item included in the Declaration of Condominium.

The Advantages of Condominium By laws

The Chapter 718.112 of the Florida Statutes highlights at length the different condominium by laws. The buyer must thoroughly examine these by laws. Carelessness may result in preventable complications in the long term. There are quite a few reasons a prospective buyer must inspect the documents and by laws. The most important is that rules and by laws create a level playing field for every owner at the condominium. It precisely outlines the individual as well as undivided ownership of the property whether common elements including recreational facilities and other amenities or the individual ‘unit’. Thus, these laws are vital in indicating the point of possession each owner can exert in the property. While you may not think they are important when buying, when something goes wrong, this is what everyone will be referencing.

Condominium Laws Highlight Responsibilities and Restrictions of Unit Owners

Although a condominium provides various advantages to purchasing a single family home, it also enumerates responsibilities and restrictions that come with condominium ownership.

The financial responsibilities include operational and maintenance costs of the condominium. These costs are financed through the collection of assessments by the condominium association. Each unit owner pays assessment for his share of the common expenditures in accordance to the percentages or proportions laid down in the Declaration of Condominium. The assessment to the unit owner varies depending on the level of services and amenities being provided in that particular condominium. These assessments are often monthly or quarterly and sometimes necessary in specific cases of emergencies.

On the other hand, restrictions on the uses of both the common elements and individual units help in preserving the best interest of all unit owners. Since, every condominium association stipulates its own set of condo documents, an owner can determine specific restrictions only by reviewing those documents.

Investment in a real estate requires an understanding of the market and property evaluation. Property purchase is a huge financial investment with intricate legalities involved in the process. If you are planning to purchase a condominium in Florida, understanding the laws is imperative and familiarity with the legal processes will help you avoid untoward complications in future. If you can’t be bothered to take the time to read the Condominium By laws then have an attorney review them for you.

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Condo Document Rules and their Significance

What are Condo Document Rules?

Condo Document Rules

Photo by Dan Brady

The State of Florida currently is the ‘home’ of millions of condominium units. The explosion in the regional real estate market has given a boost to this ever-increasing realty category. Thanks to this development that has been coupled with Florida’s much sought-after sunny beaches, golf courses, and pristine weather – Florida has been experiencing a major expansion in condominiums.

What Constitute Condominium Documents?

In this State, a condominium is created by filing and subsequent recording of the Declaration of Condominium. This Declaration is the statutorily declared document of the condominium creation. This document is more than simply a contract that spells out the obligations and rights of the parties involved. The Declaration precisely sets forth all the limits and extent of use and enjoyment of the real property and the individual user’s interest therein. The Florida condominiums are governed by the important ‘Condominium Documents’ that generally refers to the Declaration of Condominium, Rules and Regulations, Bylaws, and other significant documents.

The condo document rules are created specifically at the time when the property gets submitted to the State as condominium type of ownership. Condominiums in Florida are also administered by applicable Florida laws apart from the condo document rules. Particularly, the Chapter 718 of the Florida Statutes deals with the governance and operation of condominiums. Numerous condominium documents have been created in the last few decades which are constantly amended and updated by the Associations.  Many of these original Condo Document Rules though are outdated documents as they do not incorporate the various powers and limitations provided in the Florida Statutes’ Chapter 718.

How Can You Obtain Condo Document Rules?

Obtaining condominium documents when you require them for your various property related transactions is not easy. It is always a good idea to keep your personal documents handy. Instead of chasing down different unresponsive agents, management companies, associations, or sellers for the necessary documents, using a single reliable resource is a plausible solution for your condominium document rules. Florida Condominium Association Declarations as well as Amendments are important to be aware of. Typically, the Florida Condominium document rules include a set of Condominium Association Bylaws also incorporating one copy of the budget from when the association was created. An extensive list of the Frequently Asked Questions about the Condominium Association, the building’s architectural drawings and layout of all the units, as well as Rules and Regulations are frequently included as part of the Condominium Documents.

However, to guarantee 100% completion of the set of condo documents you receive, it is vital that you cross check with the Association. There are instances when associations keep extra documents and addendums that have not been properly filed. Additionally the budgets may change every year. Hence, it is recommended that the association be contacted to obtain an updated budget and necessary documents.

Maintain a digital as well as hard copy of all the recorded condo documents from your Association in addition to the available amendments of the documents. Staying informed and updated with essential condominium documentation will ensure and effortless real estate transaction.  To search for your condo docs click here.

 

 

Florida Condominiums Top Tips to Make an Intelligent Investment

Florida Condominiums and Buying Right

Florida Condominiums

Key West Style Florida Condominiums

 

Experiencing a steep growth curve prior to the economic downturn, the Florida real estate market is a vibrating hub of abundant unsold and new condominium units. This is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for second-home buyers as well as investors interested to grab a piece of the endlessly desirable Florida condominium realty pie. With a large number of these condominiums being located near lush golf courses, sunny beaches, and providing world-class amenities, buyers have been flocking to this part of the world. Recently prices of Florida Condominiums have been back on the rise.  Don’t be in such a rush though you forget to do your due diligence.  Purchasing a condominium under Florida laws and regulation is an entirely different ball game compared to what you have experienced so far!

 

Condominium and Units

Starting with the definition of condominium for first time condominium buyers in Florida.  What exactly does the term ‘condominium’ stand for? Though most owners refer to their individual apartments as ‘condominium’, in reality, condominium denotes the entire property consisting of all the apartments, parking areas, grounds, and generally, the recreational facilities incorporated there. Each apartment is known as a ‘unit’. Other than the unit, the rest of the property is referred as ‘common elements’. The buyer has the exclusive ownership of the unit and the ownership of the common elements is shared with other unit owners. The Florida Condominiums Act highlights that all the owners have an undivided ownership of the common elements.

Condominium Documents and Its Importance

This ‘unit’ arrangement could lead to absolute chaos unless there are strict management and guidelines in place. Due to this close proximity with your neighbors and the potential chances of miscommunication regarding the common elements, there are condominium documents highlighting restrictions and rules that cover different concern areas including maintaining, repairing, and insuring the common elements. These documents briefly incorporate the following:

  1. Declaration of Condominium – The key document of your ownership of Florida condominiums. Describing the common elements and the units, this document defines the precise rights of the unit owner, authorizes formation of association, and controls the operation and uses of all common elements.
  2. Articles on Incorporation of the Association – Filed with Florida Department of State, this document authorizes the creation of the condominium association.
  3. Bylaws of the Association – The bylaws are the guidelines for the association’s operation.
  4. Operating Budget – It describes the association’s common expenses. The cost is split among unit owners in proportion to their ownership interest in all the common elements and changes year to year.  We always recommend you request a current budget from the HOA directly when purchasing.
  5. Rules and Regulations – Consisting of restrictions concerning the use of the common elements, these rules are ratified by the Board of Directors.

Investment and Purchase of a Condominium Unit

Though the purchase of Florida condominiums involves many considerations like a  single family homes, different factors are involved because of unique legal structure of condominium real estate. Under the Florida Condominiums Act, the two categories of the condominium purchase process are purchasing directly from the developer or from any prior unit owner. Under the Act, these two procedures are differently treated and there are different legalities involved. If you are eager to accept the Florida condominium life and planning to invest in a unit, prior research of these criteria is important.  Once you purchase its too late to do your due diligence.

 

Condo Sales are Heating Up – Read Your Declaration of Condominium Before You Buy

Dont get caught in the hype.  Read your Declaration of Condominium Before you Buy

declaration-of-condominium-bylawsIf you’re considering purchasing a Florida condominium, it’s important that you do your due diligence first and make sure you know what you’re getting into. This is why it’s so important to read over the Declaration of Condominium, also sometimes called the Condo Rules and Regulations. It helps ensure that you know what you’re getting before purchasing.

What is included in the Declaration of Condominium?

This document is typically the initial legal document that defines what the condominium is, the specifics of each unit, governing rules for the condominium, information about the condominium owners’ association, and more. The Declaration of Condominium is usually filed at the Office of Registry of Deeds or similar offices in the county the condominium will be or is built in. This document is used to sell the condominium development and should always be given to interested owners prior to making a purchase.

Why It’s Important for You

You want to know what you’re getting into before you purchase, especially if the condo development is not built yet. This document will give you the specifics on the size of the unit and any other proposed details for the unit. Historically they didn’t always require architectural plans of the units and layouts.  Over the years the requirements have changed and this is now found in almost all Declarations. If the condominium is already built, it should help you determine common problems within the condominium and how those problems are handled by the owners’ association or the board. Fire damage, Eminent domain, pet restrictions, etc. etc.  It’s a document you’re going to want a copy of so you can refer to it if issues should pop up after you’ve purchased the condominium.

Rights

This document will outline the rights of a condominium unit owner pertaining to their own specific unit as well as how complaints are handled and more. By reading this document before signing any paperwork, you can get a great sense of how the condominium is operated and whether it’s under a good ownership association or condominium board or not. It can help you avoid falling into a trap that you’ll be sorry for later.  Voting is not necessarily divided equally among owners and may be prorated based on the size of units.  These are things you need to review up front.

Rules and Guidelines for Condominium Owners

In addition to the above information, the Declaration of Condominium should provide information regarding the rules and guidelines for the entire condominium. This will help you determine whether those specific rules and guidelines are fair or like some condominiums, if they’re nitpicky and too controlling.  We would always recommend that in addition to the rules and regulations filed in the Declaration of Condominium that you also ask the association directly if there are supplemental condo rules and regulations that maybe are not filed properly but are being enforced.  Asking up front is always a safer route.

The document will most likely be several pages long, so it’s important to take your time reading through it to make sure you understand every point within it. This is essential to everyone considering purchasing a condominium. If you aren’t given the time to read through the document or it seems that it’s an inconvenience that you want to do so, you should probably move on to the next available condominium or hire an attorney to review it for you.  Once you purchase it, you own.

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Investing in Condos in Florida

Florida Condo InvestingOne of the things that we often here are people interested in investing in condos in Florida.  This can be appealing as there continues to be increased demand for vacation homes and primary residences in the sunbelt and the price of condos can be more affordable in Florida than purchasing a single family home.  There are a number of things to consider and think about before you dive into investing in condos in Florida.

Condos are often more affordable and create a nice entry point to start with real estate investing in Florida.  The benefits of having a condominium and condominium bylaws and rules and regulations can also be a nuisance.  While you may not live in Florida but you want to invest in condos here, it can be helpful to have a management company coupled with a condo association who handles the common areas and the maintenance and upkeep of the common areas.  The problem with this is that you are also bound by the rules in the declaration of condominium or the bylaws of the condominium.  You need to make sure that the unit you are purchasing is even allowed to be rented.  Can it be rented more than once a year?  Can you rent immediately after purchasing the property.

Many Condominium Associations have restrictions on investing in condos in Florida.  They don’t necessarily want investors in their condo association and they may not allow you to rent the property more than once a year.  This can be a problem if your tenant moves out after 4 months because they have to relocate or have a death in the family.  You may be stuck without any rent and having to cover the costs for the rest of the year awaiting your ability to rent it again.

Condos also often have neighbors upstairs or downstairs or next to your unit.  Your tenants are your responsibility and if they are bothering others around them with noise or smells or pets or any nuisance, it becomes your problem.  The association can enforce rules of condominium to fine your or force you to remove your tenant from the property.  This can result in vacancy and headache.  Often times the HOA rules are not kind and give the authority to the Condominium Association to send notice without warning demanding your tenants or their pet be removed from the property immediately.

Now these rules or condo bylaws can be convenient sometimes when you are living in the property and the person next to you is a nuisance but from an investor standpoint can be nothing but a headache.  While you may like that you don’t have to worry about security or storm preparation or pool care, the trade off of the Condo Rules and Regulations and the board enforcing them may not be worth it.  Investing in Condos in Florida can be lucrative and a nice option but its important to think about the possible problems and issues that can arise.

As a condo owner, you are sharing ownership and responsibility of the common areas and therefore are bound by the Condo Documents and the Condo Rules and Regulations of the Condo.  Make sure you always read the bylaws and documents closely if you are planning on investing in condos in Florida because the devil is in the details and once you own it, you must abide by the rules.  To search for the condominium documents you can search here.  http://www.flcondodocs.com/Search

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Condo Rules aren’t the Final Say

Condo Rules Aren't the Final SayHere in Florida, there is a requirement with each transfer of property to provide a new purchaser with a copy of the condo rules to review prior to being bound by a contract.  This requirement is actually a great policy in place to protect purchasers but few condo buyers are actually take the time to review the condo rules thoroughly prior to moving forward on their purchase.  The condo rules are binding on you a purchaser within a condominium and the deed of conveyance binds you to these bylaws.  While the condo rules are binding on you, they may not be binding on the local municipality.

The following is a story of a purchaser that we recently heard about who purchased a commercial condo in a converted condominium tower.  At the top of the real estate market many apartment complexes were being purchased and converted into condominiums.  This means that the building or rental complex was owned by one owner.  An investor or developer would purchase the apartment complex and change the ownership structure to condominium.  They would do this by filing a Declaration of Condominium which outlines all the new condo rules that would govern the property.  Once approved by the state, they could sell the units individually to homeowners or investors.  The idea was that they would buy in bulk and sell the units individually to make a profit.

When these Condominiums mostly in Florida were converted, the developers would draft the condominium documents which outlined the condo rules but also created various limited common elements or commercial condo units within the association.  The units were marked as commercial condominiums and approved by the state and recorded in the declaration bylaws.  In the specific story that we just heard about, the purchaser bought the commercial space with the intent to rent them out as office spaces.  The condo rules clearly outlined that the use that he wanted was allowed and that the association had no control or ability to restrict the use of the commercial condos.  What the owner did not check was the local municipality zoning rules.

When the purchaser took the condo rules downtown to get a certificate of use, they stated that the zoning for that particular area where the building was located did not permit commercial use.  The unit that the purchaser had bought was essentially unable to be occupied commercially.  The owner had checked the condo rules and the condo declaration but had not thought about checking with the local zoning.  In summary the purchaser was able to speak with the municipality and explain that the space had always been used commercially and clearly was for this purpose and that the occupants were not causing any nuisance to any of the neighbors or the association and they granted permission to use the space for such but it was quite a surprise to the purchaser to find out what he thought the developer had properly established through recording of the Declaration of Condominium and creating of the condo rules, was not actually done.

In summary, its important to review the condo rules at contract time, but its also important to check the local zoning and regulations within your local municipality or city to make sure your intended use is acceptable.

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Condominium Bylaws Control the Rules of the Building

Condominium Bylaws Matter. Pay Attention to them.

Condominium Bylaws Rules and Regulations

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If you’re considering buying a condominium, the seller has probably made all sorts of promises about the way the condominium is operated and the benefits of the condominium. While it’s fine to hear the seller out and to listen to what he or she is saying, never take the seller’s word for fact. You’re going to want to get your hands on a copy of the condominium bylaws to get better insight into how the condominium operates.

What are the Condominium Bylaws?

The condominium bylaws are found within the document, and set forth restrictions for the condominium owners and board members. They also detail processes owners need to remove board members who have overstepped their power or abused their power, and discuss the guidelines owners must follow if they are part of the condominium. They are basically the governing document for the condominium and the rules and regulations are created from the bylaws document. It’s essential to read the condominium bylaws and retain a copy if you’re considering purchasing a condominium.

Duty to Comply with the Bylaws

Both board members and condominium owners have a duty to comply with the bylaws. Those who do not could be taken to court and sued for not being in compliance or be fined.  The bylaws contain all sorts of regulations, such as the maintenance of the condominium, how the outside of the condominium units should look, the proper processes owners should follow if they’re unhappy with the board members and more.

Things to Look For

When reading the condominium bylaws, there are a few things you’ll want to really look for. The condo docs which generally contain the bylaws detail the methods for receiving the monthly dues from the unit owners, as well as processes that may take place should the owner fail to provide their monthly fees. They also outline the board member’s powers and the number of owners it takes to remove a board member, as well as the process that must be followed in order to do so. Look for the rules of the upkeep on the condominium units as well as the consequences of not being in compliance with the bylaws.

Tips for Purchasing a Condominium

In addition to obtaining a copy of the condominium bylaws, you’re also going to want any additional paperwork that the seller can get you. This might include the declaration of condominium. If you are looking for a copy of your condo docs we can provide them.  It’s important to take some time to read fully over these documents. Within them are often the rules and regulations that must be followed by condominium owners and board members. They can help you determine whether a specific condominium is right for you or not.

By ensuring that you get your hands on these documents, you will receive the truth about the condominium you’re considering rather than bright promises from the seller.

What Is Condo Receivership and What Does It Mean as a Homeowner?

What exactly is Condo Receivership anyhow?

Florida Condo Receivership

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As a condo owner or someone who is considering purchasing a condo, the term “receivership” is something that you should be very familiar with. It’s important to understand what Condo Receivership is and why it happens, as well as what you should do about it.

What is Condo Receivership?

Condo Receivership is a term applied when an entity, court or individual has been appointed to take over the management of a condo. This might include things like paying the bills for the condo, collecting income, scheduling repairs and other important administrative tasks. Typically, the receiver would be acting as the board of directors to ensure that everything with the condo gets taken care of.

Why Does This Happen?

There are a few different reasons why a building or association might be placed in condo receivership. One of those is that there aren’t enough people to act on the board and affairs aren’t being taken care of. If the members aren’t able to elect or appoint a board, the owner of the condos can ask the court to appoint a receiver to ensure that the condo is being taken care of properly. Different states have different laws regarding receivership. For instance, in Michigan, receivers can be appointed to take over when the condo owners are delinquent in assessments.  In Florida we are seeing it more and more often.  There are scores of Florida Condominium Associations now being run by Condo Receiverships.  As more and more condo owners are falling behind in condominium dues and delinquencies on the rise, more and more associations are finding themselves being run by court appointed receiverships.

When Warring Factions Can’t Agree

There are some situations in which a condo can be placed in condo receivership because warring factions aren’t able to agree on who is running the association or how it should operate. In a case like this, it’s important for the condo to be taken care of and since no one can determine who should be doing that, the court will do so by placing it in receivership.  While this may appear like a mutual third party to assist in affairs, the costs to homeowners can be a burden resulting in potential condominium assessments on the few remaining condo owners currently paying dues.

The Cost for Receivership

One of the issues with condo receivership is that the receiver can come at a hefty price. When courts place someone in receivership, they tend to go with larger companies that are accustomed to receiving troubled companies that they must manage. The problem is that those receivers must be paid and they’re typically expensive (they can cost $150 to $300 an hour) and they’re not necessarily most concerned with what might be best for the condo community. The issue is that a receiver typically doesn’t know the community the way others might, and might not really have a clue what they’ve been appointed to care for.

What to Do

If your condo is placed in condo receivership, there are a few different things you may have to worry about. There’s a chance you could end up paying higher dues, or that the maintenance needed on the condo will be deferred, etc. You should speak with the homeowners association or the board as well as the individual or company that has been appointed as receiver to find out as much information as possible. You may also want to contact a qualified real estate agent or real estate attorney to ask questions that you may not understand.  Hiding doesn’t make it get better.  Educate yourself and make sure you ask questions.

Overall, it’s important to understand condo receivership and how it’s going to affect you. If you’re not sure how to proceed, contact a qualified real estate agent  or real estate attorney in and inquire about what you should do next.  Look for condominium documents for your Condominium.  Search Now for your Condo Docs

Special thanks to Love And Pieces for the article recommendation.

 

Your Condominium Meeting and Why You Should Be Involved

The Dreaded Condominium Meeting

Condominium Meeting

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You get a notice that your condominium association is planning to have a meeting but you shrug it off, figuring it’s going to be boring topics that you’re not interested in at all. You may decide to just let the committee handle decisions. Before deciding not to show up, you might want to consider actually going. There are a few different reasons why you should be involved in your condominium meetings.

You Should Have a Voice

You never know what kinds of topics may come up at your condominium meeting and it’s important that you have a voice. The last thing you want to happen is for something to be voted on and you find out that you don’t care for the decision that was made. Had you attended meetings, you would have had a voice as well, or another solution the committee could have voted on.

Decisions Effect You

Decisions made in a condominium meeting affect everyone; from the renters to the landlord to the owner, etc. Knowing that important decisions could be made that will affect you, don’t you think you should be a part of those decisions? You may have a unique view on a topic that’s particularly troubling to the board and can offer a great solution that keeps everyone happy. However, if you don’t go, those views will never get discussed.

Protecting Renter’s Rights

Whether you’re the owner of the condominium or the landlord, you should go to your condominium meeting even if it’s just to protect renter’s rights. While the majority of condominium boards are populated by wise, compassionate individuals, there are a few that are simply full of “condo commandos” who are bound and determined to make things go their way. When you attend the meetings you can be sure the renter’s best interests are being taken into consideration. While it may be the renter that could be adversely affected, most often its the investor owner who runs the risk of new rules hurting property values when you want to sell your property.

Specific Topics

You should know what sorts of topics are being discussed in regards to your condominium. Is there a particular stubborn problem that the board can’t seem to solve? Are the issues the regular, day to day issues that most condominiums face? It’s important to be aware of the things the committee is discussing and what they’re doing. They determine the fees and dues that are to be collected as well as what that money is spent on, from repairs to luxuries. You should have a voice and a vote when it comes to these topics and you should be aware of the issues within the committee.

Most committee meetings don’t take up a lot of time and don’t require much effort, so it’s more beneficial for you to go and stay involved than to simply allow the committee to handle it. By attending the Condominium meeting, you can be sure you have a voice and are included when important topics are discussed that affect your Condominium.

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Condo Bylaws & Condo Commandos

Condo Bylaws

Condo Rules and Regulations

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Whether you’re considering moving into a condo or you’re serving on a condo board, you may have run into what many people refer to as a “condo commando.” These are the individuals who feel as if they create all the condo bylaws, and are often so intimidating that others don’t question their reign. By understanding condo commandos, you can see why they’re not always the best enforcer of the condo bylaws.

What Exactly is a Condo Commando?

Typically, this kind of person serves on the condo board and may even be the president of the board. They have a “know it all” attitude and really leave others feeling like they have no voice in important matters. It can be difficult to deal with these types of people, but it can be done.

While excellent and dedicated condo directors can make changes for the best and can lead with a shining example, there are some that simply want everything done his or her way. The problem with this is that condo boards are created for a reason. Condo buildings are typically multi-million dollar holdings and one person with a dictator desire could put it at risk. It’s important to deal with them and ensure that everyone on the board has an equal voice and opinion in important matters including amending and interpreting the condo bylaws.

Take Action but follow your Condo Bylaws

Whether you’re on the board or you’re an owner of a condo in the unit, it’s important to take action if a condo commando is trying to take over. You can be successful if others have issues with this person as well, and they see the potential damage the individual could inflict. One great way to deal with this type of person is to create a petition asking the condo commando to resign. If they should refuse to resign, then the board should be willing to back up their petition by forcing them out of his or her position of reign.  Make sure you are checking your condo bylaws to abide by them to a “T.”

If you don’t feel as though things are bad enough for a resignation, you can create a petition for them to hear your demands.  This could include you and other homeowners presenting a united front with the board once a decision has been voted on. It could include the demand that everyone has an equal opportunity to speak and to voice his or her opinion. Simply state the demands that you’ll require if this person is to remain in his or her position of power.

By taking control of an ugly situation in your Condominium Association quickly, you can ensure that minimal damage is done under his or her power all by abiding by the condo bylaws. It’s important that board members have equal say and that important issues involve everyone.

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