Condo Rules: Why Clear Communication is Key
When managing a condo corporation, one of the main factors is implementing and enforcing condo rules and regulations. These rules are put in place to help ensure resident safety and prevent unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of units and common elements.
Establishing solid condo rules that meet the community’s needs and are reasonable to uphold can be challenging. To ensure success, boards must lay an effective groundwork with open communication at its core. Doing this will establish trust between all residents.
Here are some proven tips and best practices to ensure that your condo rules and regulations positively impact your community. In doing so, strengthening the corporation’s reputation for years to come.
Condo Rule Tip #1: Identify The “Why” Behind the Rule
Great condo boards understand the importance of staying connected to their residents and working together towards mutual goals. By proactively communicating the “why” behind the rule, a board can ensure that decisions are in line with the community's best interests. This will also help increase resident satisfaction and property values.
As a board, ensure you answer the question, “What’s the purpose behind our rule?” In other words, why was the rule introduced?
Did it come about because of multiple owner and occupant complaints?
Has a new law or ordinance come up in your area that requires a condo rule?
Will this rule prevent or mitigate potential liability in the community or building?
Identifying your “why” can be straightforward, or it may require a little more time. Either way it’s critical for effective rule adoption.
Before introducing a new rule, your board, manager, and management company need to work together to determine why it is essential. You then have to decide how you will communicate it. A great management company will help you define the purpose of your condo rule and effectively communicate it to residents.
Condo Rule Tip #2: Communicate the Purpose and Benefits
Once you’ve identified the reason for your condo rule, you must communicate that purpose to owners. Help them understand the benefits of instituting this rule and why it will ultimately improve the resident experience and property values.
(Reminder: If you can’t easily communicate the rule to residents, the benefits aren’t clear, or it goes against governing documents, the condominium act, or local laws, take a step back. Ask yourself, is the rule reasonable, necessary, and enforceable? If not, consider reviewing the rule again with your management company.)
When implementing a rule in the community, remember that they can be opportunities to allow additional activities or exceptions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many condo corporations relaxed limitations to enable additional activities and experiences for residents.
Creating rules for a condo requires a delicate balance. Owners want to be able to live their lives without too many rules impeding them. However, living in such close proximity to your neighbours can make that more difficult to do. Things you can do in a single-family home you can’t allow in a condo for the betterment of all residents. A perfect example of this would be smoking.
When you communicate with residents clearly about the benefits and reasoning behind a certain rule, they gain an increased level of understanding. That level of understanding leads to greater compliance and agreement.
A solid management company will have the resources and technologies to communicate effectively to your unique community or building. They will also provide your board and manager with templates and best practices for communications.
Condo Rule Tip #3: Explain the Process, From Development to Enforcement
Strong, effective communication is the cornerstone of a successful new rule. Keeping residents informed and engaged throughout every stage - from conception to enforcement - helps ensure that everyone comprehends the rules and regulations. It also makes it easier for residents to comply without hesitation or confusion.
Explain the process of rule creation and enforcement to the community so that owners know what to expect. The board must provide notice to the owners when they want to implement a new rule, amend, or repeal a current rule.
Along with a copy of the rule, the board must provide a date for when the proposed rule will come into effect. A statement must also be provided that informs owners they have the right to requisition a meeting about the rule. It must mention that the rule will become effective 30 days after the notice is given unless a meeting is requisitioned.
This means that owners can play an important role in the creation and amending of rules. This allows owners who do not like a rule the opportunity to change it or stop it from becoming effective. If a meeting is requisitioned, the board must call and hold the meeting within 35 days. In this case, the rule would become effective unless the owners of a majority of the voting units participating in the meeting vote against it.
Condo Rule Tip #4: Reinforce the Long-Term Benefits and Value
Even after you’ve communicated the new rule’s purpose and process, ensure you are reinforcing the long-term benefits. Work with your manager and management company on creative ways to communicate the importance of the rule.
You may consider asking a subject matter expert to share how a particular rule might increase property values. This should be done on an ongoing basis so that new owners understand the benefits and value as well. A good management company will help create a solid communication plan and strategy to reinforce the benefits with residents and owners.
The Key to Great Condo Rules: Communication
From rule creation to rule enforcement, the key to effective and reasonable rules is communication every step of the way. When owners understand why the corporation has certain rules and what the benefit of them are, it leads to happier residents. Not to mention a stronger community.
Learn how FirstService Residential can support your community in implementing condo rules by contacting us here.