Q&A: Unit Owners Who Have Taken on Roommates

Q. I live in a community of only 36 units. They are very unique in that they include a church, school and rectory converted to condos, and then there are 11 brand-new townhomes. There is a ‘no rentals’ clause in our master deed, but some people have taken on roommates. Are we allowed to know exactly who these roommates are? They are not listed as unit owners.

                                 —Worried Tenant

A. “A reader has asked a very interesting and unique question,” says Stuart J. Lieberman, an attorney and partner at the Princeton-based firm Lieberman & Blecher, P.C. “But it touches on a larger issue of what to do when you believe that a unit owner quietly and secretly is ignoring association rules.

“According to the reader, the community association in which he/she lives once had a very different prior use and was converted into a small number of living units. The master deed contains a clause that precludes any unit owner from renting a unit to a third party.

 “Somewhat interestingly, and maybe not coincidentally, some of the unit owners are taking on roommates. The reader wants to know whether or not the association can find out who these roommates are because they are not listed as unit owners. Of course, there is an implied suspicion that these roommates may actually be secret rent-paying tenants. So implicit in the question is the extent to which the association can determine if the prohibition against rentals is being violated.

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