Q: Our condominium is about 30 years old. Some of the first-floor units have installed small patios to the rear of their units. I read in your column that owners cannot use common ground for their own and build patios. But over the years our board has looked the other way and ignored such patios.
Recently, a new owner complained about the construction of one such patio because her neighbor was cooking and the smoke was coming into her unit. She questioned why other units were allowed to have their own patios since the documents do not allow private use of the common grounds. The directors took an attitude of "leave us alone and live with the smoke."
Since the board is neglectful in enforcing the rules, many owners ignore them and we are beginning to have a patchwork of violations. Many homes have patio furniture, large flower pots arranged to shield the patio, grills and smokers, and some have awnings and umbrellas on "their" patios. The board takes a "do as you please" attitude. They are more concerned with getting the work done without enforcement of the rules.
A: Unfortunately in today's society people often take a "let the other person do the heavy lifting." Simply we are taught to not take chances by accepting responsibility to do something different. When a person accepts these ideas not to become involved, they unintentionally give up some of their rights.
Until your owners understand that they have an obligation to the others in the community to serve, you are going to have the same problems. Someone in your condominium must step up and begin to try to organize and convince others to take on the duties by becoming candidates or you will never recover. Some must say that they are not happy with the current board and they want to go back to the basics and start enforcing the rules. Maybe that person is you. Why not start knocking on doors and ask if they are happy with the current board's actions?
It's perfectly fine to change to fiscal year
Q: Our condominium documents require making the budget for a calendar year from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 of each year. There has been some recent discussion of changing the budget to fiscal year from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. Would we be in violation with the state if we did not have an approved operating budget in place for Jan. 1?
A: Apparently the board and maybe the CPA/accountant feel the need to change the date of the budget. You need to find out why the change is proposed. You can do this by writing a letter to the board. Since the association is a business and should be operated as a business, they have a right to change the accounting dates. It should require an amendment to the documents. While this is a simple change, your attorney and CPA should be involved. It would not eliminate the creation and approval of an annual budget, financial reports, or tax filings. If the change is made, your fees would be due every October.