Q&A: Can Condo Control Stuck Garage Door?

Q My condo association wants to make it a rule that all garage doors must be closed at all times and cars cannot be left in the driveway. My garage door does not close or open properly in the winter time so I am forced to leave it open and my second garage is too small for my car. Since when is this part of the condo association's right to rule, when this is not a common area? What should I do?

— Frustrated in Maine

A Frustrating is the right word forrules at times, especially if they are aimed at you. Nevertheless, in a community association they are sometimes necessary for the common good. Maine condominium laws generally give the association the right to adopt rules, especially concerning the common elements. Make sure your garage door is part of your unit and not part of the common elements (if the latter, they may have to repair the door!). Sometimes windows and doors are treated differently in the condominium documents; be sure to double check on that.

Check to make sure the proposed rule doesn’t contradict the declaration or bylaws and check on the procedures for enactment. Sometimes rules require unit owner approval.

Finally, you might want to ask why the association wants to enact the rule in the first place. Is it a security issue? Do open garage doors cause heat loss and frozen pipes? Is it a matter of maintaining an attractive appearance? Perhaps the board’s concerns can be addressed in a different way. Perhaps their expressed concerns don’t make sense. But be aware that if there is a plausible rationale for a rule there is probably not much you can do about it.

— Joseph Carleton, Esq.

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