Is it Time for a “Live and Let Live” Statute?
If you have lived in a condominium or a homeowner’s association, you know that there are rules that we all must follow. These rules are generally about parking, keeping trash cans in the garage, controlling your pets, planting things in the common elements, and keeping the architectural elements the same, from the paint to the same storm doors. As to enforcement of these rules, the Board of the association must act reasonably under Ohio law, and sometimes that means permitting harmless variations in the rules, enforcing rules that make good common sense to enforce, and letting the rest go at times, because we all have to live together, and we are not all the same. Ohio law requires Boards to act reasonably, and sometimes that means “live and let live.” But what about the owners themselves, especially the one who self-appoints to be the community sheriff and watch dog? Do they have to act reasonably? Many boards are plagued by the owner who writes or emails daily to complain and criticize the board for not enforcing every little rule so that every blade of grass is in its place. This behavior can amount to unreasonable conduct, interfere with board operations, and cause the board to be seriously vexed and perplexed. Is it time to require all condo and lot owners to “act reasonably” much like the board is required to do? Is it time to require these self appointed enforcers to “live and let live?” Would this be as simple as an amendment to the condominium statute and the HOA statute which requires all owners in the community to act reasonably when dealing with the association board; that they must not harass, annoy, or stalk the board with unreasonable demands and communications? Could they be subject to legal restraining orders and pay the legal fees of the board if the board had to sue and was successful? Could the board simply make a rule to this effect and would it be enforceable? These changes may never come to pass, but civil behavior and codes of conduct inside the community will remain issues for future discussions and resolution.
Charles T. Williams
Charles T. Williams is the founder and a principal in the firm. A native of Columbus, Ohio, and a veteran of the Vietnam war, Mr. Williams earned his law degree from Boston College Law School. He is widely recognized as one of Ohio’s foremost attorneys practicing homeowner association law and condominium law. Read Charles T. Williams's full bio.