Most declarations have guidelines and approval processes for unit modifications. These are typically called architectural control restrictions that are administered by the board or the architectural control committee (“ACC”).
If the new floor was not approved in accordance with the architectural control regulations, then the ACC or the board could take action to require the owner to remove it or make other modifications.
David G. Hellmuth, Esq.
Hellmuth & Johnson
8050 West 78th Street
Edina, MN 55439
Phone: (952) 941-4005
Fax: (952) 941-2337
Condominium bylaws typically provide that “no nuisances shall be allowed on the property nor shall any use or practice be allowed which is a source of annoyance to its residents or occupants or which interferes with the peaceful possession or proper use of the property by its residents or occupants.” Your board may enforce this provision against the offending unit owner to the extent permitted under your bylaws. For instance, the board may require the offending unit owner to “fix” the ceramic floor in order to abate the nuisance. In the event that the offending unit owner fails to do so, then the bylaws typically permit the board (i) to peacefully enter the unit to summarily abate and remove, at the expense of the offending unit owner, the condition, or (ii) to enjoin, abate or remedy the condition by appropriate legal proceedings. If your bylaws permit, the board may also impose fines against the offending unit owner which may continue until such time that the condition is abated by the offending unit owner.
John H. Gettinger, Esq.
Shapiro Gettinger Waldinger & Monteleone, LLP
118 North Bedford Road
Mount Kisco, New York 10549
What the board can do is set forth within the declaration or rules/regulations. What I mean is that if there is a noise prohibition or limit, and the noise from movement on the ceramic floor exceeds the limit, then the board can (and should) act. If there is nothing that prohibits installation of a ceramic floor and either there is no noise limit/prohibition or it is not exceeded, then the board can (and should) do nothing.
While boards want to solve every issue that arises to make life easier for owners, it is not always appropriate – or within the board’s powers – for it to do so.
Sara A. Austin, Esq.
Austin Law Firm LLC
226 E. Market St.
York, PA 17403
Phone: (717) 846-2246
Fax: (717) 846-2248
The association’s authority is limited to the provisions in the covenants. Unless there are applicable restrictions on hard surfaced floors or noise, the association has no authority to intervene. Many neighbor to neighbor disputes are simply matters they have to resolve between themselves.
Stephen R. Buschmann, Esq.
Thrasher Buschmann & Voelkel
Market Square Center
151 N. Delaware St., Suite 1900
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2505
Phone: (317) 686-4773
Fax: (317) 686-4777
This is an interesting question. Generally, mid and high-rise condos have rules regarding the type of permitted flooring materials for this very reason. The board should consider adopting such a rule going forward.
Assuming that the unit owner did not need board approval to install the floors, I would suggest a review of the condo rules and regulations pertaining to noise. If the noise/vibration created by the ceramic floors is excessive, the board may consider sending a warning letter to the unit owner located above. If the noise should persist, then the board may consider issuing a fine. In the alternative, the board may consider seeking a court order prohibiting the excessive noise. I would be very surprised if the association did not have noise rules. Keep in mind that some level of noise must be tolerated during non-sleeping hours.
Lastly, some associations have alternative dispute resolution procedures (ADR) in which the parties are required to meet in an informal setting to attempt to reach a compromise. This would be a good case for ADR if that exists.
Ultimately, the board does have a fiduciary duty to enforce the rules and regulations of the condominium.
Eric J. Phillips, Esq.
Hladik, Onorato & Federman, LLP
298 Wissahickon Avenue
North Wales, PA 19454