It is impossible to draft rules that will work forever. The residents change. The community changes. Technology changes. The legal landscape changes. Everything changes. For these reasons, I usually suggest that boards review their rules regularly to see if any rules need to be changed, removed, or added. Here are a few issues that you may want to consider next time you revise the rules:
- Short-term or transient rental prohibitions. With the growing popularity of websites like airbnb these types of restrictions will become more popular in residential condominiums. This is an area that has already been tested in the courts. The courts have upheld restrictions on short-term and transient leases. Some rules require leases to be at least 6 or 12 months in length. Others have a shorter period, such as 2 weeks or 3 months. The appropriate length will depend upon the community.
- Drones. A drone is an unmanned aircraft. It is often controlled by a person from the ground. It can have a wide range of kilometers, or a few hundred metres. The concerns for condominiums are generally noise, privacy, and security, especially where the drone has a camera. This is an untested area, but a properly drafted rule should be enforceable.
- Weapons. I recently spoke with a property manager dealing with an occupant who liked to target shoot in his yard, which was in a townhouse complex in the city. In some instances it may not be illegal for the occupant to possess a weapon, but given the possible injuries or property damage that could result from the occupant’s use of a weapon the board may want to pass a rule prohibiting weapons or placing restrictions on them. A rule may not be necessary in some instances (i.e. illegal weapons, dangerous use of them) as this would be covered by provisions within other pieces of legislation or the Condominium Act, like s.117.
- Smoking. People have known that smoking is harmful for decades, but it is only in the past 10-20 years that we have restricted smoking in public locations. Some condominiums are even going “smoke-free” with new rules prohibiting smoking within the units. The new twist is the Federal government’s recent announcement that marijuana will be legalized within the next 18 months. This means that condominiums will need to ensure that any rules that they have passed are general enough to cover marijuana in addition to tobacco if they want to be truly “smoke-free”.
- Websites/Social Media. Sometimes an owner will start an unauthorized group on Facebook, or a website, about the condominium. There may be other legal avenues that may be available to the condominium to demand its removal, but I have seen rules created to prohibit owners from creating these types of public groups.
- Commercial Uses of Units. With technology (i.e. work from home opportunities) and legal changes (i.e. striking down prostitution laws) in recent years, many commercial uses that are widely considered as “undesirable” may become more common. A restriction on the types of commercial uses might be worthwhile if you want to maintain a quiet residential complex.
There are so many other novel issues that could be the subject of a rule or two, but I’ll leave it at that for now. Let me know if you have any interesting rule ideas.