Q&A: Unnecessary Rule?

Q Our condo has prohibited the use of doormats. They say they are a hazard. Is this legal? How can we fight this nit-picking rule?

—Tracking Dirt in New Construction

A “The New Jersey Condominium Act grants the governing board of a condominium association the affirmative obligation to adopt, distribute, amend and enforce rules and regulations governing the use and operation of the condominium and the condominium property and the use of the common elements. (N.J.S.A. 46:8B-14 9(c)). Further, typical condominium bylaws also specifically empower the board to adopt and enforce reasonable rules and regulations,” says Judith A. Fallat, Esq. in Denville. “Accordingly, it is likely that the association which is the subject of this question, does have the authority to adopt the prohibition against doormats.

“A restriction which a board otherwise has the authority to adopt could be found invalid if it was adopted without the due process required by the Condominium Act or the governing documents of the association. Also, the provision of the Condominium Act noted above specifies that the power of a board to adopt rules and regulations is subject to the right of a majority of unit owners to change any such rules. Therefore, if a majority of unit owners object to the restriction on doormats, the rule can be overturned.

“Even a restriction which a board has the authority to adopt and has adopted in accordance with due process procedures must be reasonable. Typically, rules and regulations may be enforced in a manner ‘not inconsistent with the health, safety and general welfare of the residents of the community.’ (N.J.S.A.46:8B-14(j)).

“Although the unit owner who has posed this question characterizes the prohibition against the use of doormats as ‘nit-picking,’ if the association governing board can demonstrate that the adoption of the restriction protects and furthers the health, safety and general welfare of the residents of the community, the restriction may very well be upheld as reasonable. For example, the association may be able to establish that doormats on the common elements create a tripping hazard or other safety issue which endangers residents and their guests, and/or exposes the association to liability.

“Ultimately, the question of whether a rule is reasonable and valid within the scope of the association’s authority may involve a subjective determination by a fact finder.”

Related Articles

Q&A: Who Can Be on the Board?

Q&A: Who Can Be on the Board?

Q&A: Transparency at Board Meetings

Q&A: Transparency at Board Meetings

Q&A: Common Property and the Board

Q&A: Common Property and the Board