If you're itching to own a place of your own but don't relish spending all your time maintaining a house and yard, a condominium might fit your lifestyle. But condos also require you to give up a little privacy, and you might have to sign an agreement to follow the rules of a condo owners' association. Each state establishes its own laws protecting condo owners, but you can generally count on a few basic rights.
You have a right to quiet enjoyment of your property, which means members of your condo association can't show up and demand to come in. Like other homeowners, you have a right to maintain your property in the condition you deem appropriate as long as it meets the requirements detailed in your condo owners' association guidelines. Associations are generally prohibited from restricting the number of guests you have, as long as the guests don't violate local laws, and they can't dictate how you decorate the interior of your condominium.
Both condo owners and renters have a right to the information circulated in condo mailings. These mailings might include information about elections, changes in rules or recent criminal activity. Condo associations can't discriminate and provide this information only to some owners. Owners also may have access to the condo association's election and financial records, as well as other filings. Each state establishes laws addressing what owners can and can't access, but associations must follow state laws.
Condo owners are generally permitted to participate in condo elections, and some states require that all condo owners have access to elections. Even if your state doesn't provide these protections, your condo association is still required to follow its bylaws. These rules generally provide information about how much notice the association must give before an election, who can run and who can vote.
Condo associations can't discriminate on the basis of disability, race, sex or religion. This means you can't be denied the opportunity to buy a condo you otherwise qualify for, and associations can't prevent you from participating in the association based on your membership in a protected group. Condos also have to follow state and federal laws providing access for people with disabilities. Depending on your state's laws, your condominium complex might be required to provide a certain number of handicapped spaces or make improvements to the property that make it accessible to people with disabilities.
- State of Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs: Condominium Property Regimes -- Owner Rights and Responsibilities
- Department of Business and Professional Regulation Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums and Mobile Homes: Condominium Unit-Owner Rights and Responsibilities
- Condo Law Guru: Condo and HOA Owners Rights
- Connecticut General Assembly: Condominium Act -- Rights of Unit Owners
- U.S. Department of Justice: A Guide to Disability Rights Laws
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