A guest post by Michael Gonzalez, Melrose-Sovereign, Orlando, FL
When you live in a condo association, you are guaranteed certain property rights. With good property management, your rights are guaranteed in your governing documents, and one of the most important of these is the definition of “Common Elements.” These elements constitute all of the community that is not included within the units (hallways, lobbies, elevators, etc…). “Common Elements” also include easements through units for conduits, ducts, plumbing and wiring. These rights are common in most condo associations, and they are often not fully understood by their residents. We have recently come across a situation that represents this.
A cable company violated a resident’s property rights by drilling and running a television cable through the closet on their balcony. The cable company said that they were given permission by the condo association board, however, the closet on the resident’s porch is not technically “common space.” The closet is considered part of the unit as defined by the association’s governing documents. The resident’s cable was violating the property rights of the unit below them and their property rights were being violated by the unit above them. When the resident questioned the cable installer about it, he simply said that the association board gave him permission to do this. This is a violation of the owner’s rights because the wiring that was being installed was obstructing the resident’s use of the closet, so they demanded that the cable be relocated. The previous television cable was run through the walls, which is a much more aesthetically pleasing solution and does not violate the resident’s property rights, as the walls are a part of the “Common Elements.” The owner was eventually able to get the cable relocated and the association board apologized.
This story shows the benefits of understanding your rights and how to exercise them. It is very important to have a full understanding of the governing documents of your association such as the CC&R’s and bylaws. These documents are the laws of your association and understanding them will allow you to recognize any inconsistencies should they arise. It can also be valuable to ask questions of your association’s contractors to see exactly what they are doing. They could be violating your rights and you may not even realize it. When living in community environments, like condos, the value of your condo relies heavily on the others in your building. If their property rights are violated, it can have a negative effect on you and your living situation. This is why it is important to make sure you have a well-informed community and that you exercise your rights. To learn more about HOA management and community associations, visit www.melrose-sovereign.com.