A Condominium Association's Right of Entry
As lawyers representing Condominium Associations, we are often tasked with asserting a Condominium Association’s right of entry into a unit or limited common element. Reasons for the Association’s entry may vary but usually are related to performing common element repairs which must be completed within the interior of the unit, immediate repairs to a component of a unit when the owner fails to address the immediate problem and, safety inspections for items such as fire alarms, sprinkler systems, or inspections related to potential code violations that could affect the health, safety, and well-being of other residents in the community.
The Ohio Condominium Act provides for a Condominium Association’s right of entry into a Unit. Ohio Revised Code §5311.03(F) provides each unit is subject to a right of access for the purpose of maintenance, repair, or service of any common element located within the boundaries or of any portion of the unit itself by persons authorized by the board, provided the maintenance, repair, or service of any portion of the unit is needed in the opinion of the board for public safety or to prevent damage to or destruction of any other portion of the condominium property.
In addition to this statutory right, most Condominium Declarations contain a provision which provides the Association with a right of entry not only to the unit, but also to the limited common elements located throughout the condominium property. Typically, the Association must provide advance notice to the unit owner of at least twenty-four hours unless access is needed in an emergency. In the case of an emergency, there is no advance notice required. Board members and managers should be sure to review the governing documents for a provision allowing a right of access to the unit or limited common elements to be sure the provisions are being followed correctly.
Ohio Revised Code 5311.081(B)(16) defers to the provisions of the Declaration and Bylaws. This portion of the statute provides that unless otherwise provided in the Declaration or Bylaws, the unit owners association, through the board may enter a unit for bona fide purposes when conditions exist that involve an imminent risk of damage or harm to common elements, another unit, or to the health of safety of the occupants of that unit or another unit. Again, the statute refers to a risk of damage to property or the safety of others within the community.
There is an interesting case in Ohio which upheld an Association’s right of entry into a Unit when an owner disputed this entry (River Terrace Condominium Association v. Lewis (Hamilton 1986) 33 Ohio App.3d 52, 514 N.E.2d 732) for treatment of cock roaches. The owner disputed the Association’s right to enter the unit to conduct a treatment of spraying for cock roaches as a part of the Association’s maintenance program. The court held in favor of the Association and granted the Association its right of entry into the unit to conduct spraying and treatment of cock roaches within the unit.
A condominium association in Ohio has a right of entry to a unit and potentially the limited common elements, but a board must use caution in asserting that right as that right is limited to public safety, imminent risk of harm, or potential damages or harm to condominium property or other persons.
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Ms. Strohm has been practicing law since 2004 and is a principal of the firm Williams & Strohm, LLC. As a member of the Ohio and Columbus Bar Associations, she is admitted to practice in all Ohio courts and the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Read Robin Strohm's full bio.