Saturday, April 21, 2018
Home and Garden

Community Living: Adding a bench to common area not a simple matter

Adding bench not a simple matter

Q: We are fortunate to have a parklike path for our members to enjoy. I have offered to buy a bench to be placed along this path. The board has refused to allow me to place a bench on this path. They claim that it would be an alteration to the common area and must be approved by the members.

I ask that it be placed on the agenda of the next board meeting. The board denied my request. I thought that this denial of the improvement addition was a little overstated. The board did provide me the information that if I obtained a petition with owners' signatures, they would add it to the next annual meeting's agenda.

I plan to do that. Since many owners are away, the cost of mailing will be an awesome task, but I feel that as many owners as possible should be able to express their opinion. Is the board overreacting?

A: The denial may seem to be an overstatement, however, it may open doors that the board does not want opened. To add a small gift to the common areas may result in others volunteering other memorials or objects around the community.

In some such donations, it can result in increased liability or increased maintenance costs. I am sure that a bench is a simple item to give and the maintenance and liability would be limited. If someone else offered a donation, it could result in additional problems.

How 'order of power' affects condo groups

Q: I am a member of a condominium association. I thought that I read that the state statutes override the condominium bylaws. Can you give me an example of a section of the statutes that deals with this issue?

A: Let me start with what is called the "order of powers." It is more of an academic term than a legal term. It can be called "conflict of laws" or "choice of laws" meaning what a judge would use to determine the correct interpretation of a conflict in the laws. What it refers to is the line of laws and how they refer to each other.

Normally, it defines which law will override another law if there is a conflict in the laws. It would also include condominium documents. I will define a normal order of the powers. The highest order is the U.S. Constitution, federal laws, state constitutions and state laws. In the case of condominium and homeowner association and cooperatives, the next lower orders, it starts with the declaration or covenants, the articles and the bylaws and then rules and regulations in that order. Say the bylaws require that a meeting notice must be posted 24 hours in advance of the board meeting, the state statute will override the bylaws as the statutes say notices must be posted 48 hours in advance. The exception? If the lower law is more restrictive, then the lower power will prevail.

Let's say the bylaws require a 72-hour notice. In this situation, the 72-hour posting must be used as it contains the 48-hour notice found in the statutes.