When is a Good Time? It's Always Time to Update the Rules

Maybe it starts with complaints about guest parking, or too much noise from next door, or neighbors smoking. Whatever the reason, the condominium rules and regulations— also known as the CR&Rs—in your community probably need updating.

CR&Rs Are Part of the Bylaws

"Condo bylaws define the powers given to the trustees. They spell out who is responsible for what," says Frank Flynn, principal in the law firm Downing & Flynn in Boston. "The CR&Rs are then defined within the bylaw and may further describe the conduct and responsibilities of board members and tenants. In a typical model, the documents may state, 'The Rules and Regulations and Standards may be modified, repealed, or amended at any time by a resolution of the Board of Directors when deemed necessary in the best interest of unit owners/residents and the community.'"

Flynn explains that procedures for making any changes to the bylaw are contained within that bylaw. "The process for changing bylaws may require official notification of all parties, including trustees and unit owners, and voting by a specific percentage of unit owners. When the change is adopted," he advises, "it must be recorded at the Registry of Deeds—at least in Massachusetts."

"The rules and regs should always be recorded as part of the bylaws," states Flynn. "Even though a majority of trustees [alone] can change the rules and regs, these rules are not enforceable if they are not recorded." His recommendation stems from a 1975 Massachusetts court decision in the case of Johnson v. Keith.

New or Old, They All Need Updates

Things would be a lot easier for everyone if CR&Rs, like the Ten Commandments, were actually set in stone, but the reality is, "Regulations get changed constantly," says Robert Marcus, principal of the management firm Robert Marcus Real Estate in Newton, Massachusetts. The genesis of the change may be lifestyle trends, or economic factors such as insurance premiums, or turnover on the board of directors, but "you have to change [CR&Rs] as issues come up."


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  • we have a owner in one of our units (these a re condos) that always has execessive noise. Some new older couple just moved into the unit behind them and have not have a peaceful nights sleep since moving in. Last night @ 3am the police were finally called. He and his roomate have been told to keep the noise level down but to no avail. They are like vampires, party all night and sleep all day. What if anything can we do as a condo association? Also he has been fined but we all know that he does not have to pay it until he decides to sell the unit. Then he would not be able to sell until all fees due to us are paid. Any suggestions????