Don't let enterprising resident turn the condo into a fleabag

MAILBAG

March 19, 2000

Dear Mr. Azrael,

Is it appropriate for a condominium owner who resides in a mid-rise condominium to use the common areas for transporting via the lobby elevator her sizable amount of flea market merchandise each day?

What are the condominium residents' rights in regard to her use of the common areas and her apartment for storage as well as the impression this makes on visitors seeing this occur?

Cynthia Gold Baltimore

Dear Ms. Gold:

You and your neighbors don't have to sit there and take it while the flea market entrepreneur turns your condominium into a fleabag.

No doubt, your condominium is governed by recorded covenants and restrictions, which may specifically prohibit owners from using their units for storage. These restrictions may also limit the use of common areas for specific purposes or prevent certain unsightly or offensive activities.

Condominium associations, acting through their boards, also have the power to adopt reasonable rules and regulations governing use of common areas and even the units themselves. If the existing rules don't cover an offensive condition, the rules can be changed by the board, provided a majority of the unit owners go along.

So, first you should read the existing condo declaration and rules to determine if they require residents to use a freight elevator or stairs to transport their belongings, or whether there are other restrictions that may apply. If so, the condominium board should be requested to enforce the rules. That's its job.

If the current rules don't restrict the offensive activities, you can request the board to amend the rules to deal with the problem. A petition signed by yourself and other residents, asking the board to deal with the situation, might help persuade the board to act.

Condominium owners do have the right to keep their buildings as pleasant and attractive places to live.

Mailbag

Questions?

Real estate questions are answered by Jonathan A. Azrael of Azrael, Gann and Franz of Towson. Questions, with name, address and daytime telephone number, may be faxed to 410-783-2517, e-mailed to real.estate@baltsun.com or mailed to: Real Estate Mailbag, Fifth Floor, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278-0001.

They can also be recorded at our Sundial audio-response number, 410-783-1800, code 6170.

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