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Changing the By-Laws

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By-laws and house rules can be amended to fit the needs of your community. Building boards have very important responsibilities when it comes to keeping order in the building. They are responsible for making the decisions that affect every day operations, and long term outcomes for the residents. Changes to the by-laws and rules become necessary as time goes on, and different residents’ needs come along. Of course “an association’s bylaws are superseded by the municipal, state and federal laws of the land, so sometimes forces outside of an association’s control will dictate changes that need be made to its policies.”[1] There are decade long policies that are now coming into light. Some of them include smoking, animals, and community use issues. As a generational change comes along, there needs to be an update to the rules to reflect it.

“Smoking is one issue that has caused a great deal of debate in multifamily communities for decades now.”[2] A couple of decades ago, it was completely normal for people to smoke wherever they wanted, whether that meant in airplanes or restaurants. Times have clearly changed. People are no longer allowed to smoke in most private and public areas. However, the legalization of marijuana is starting to bring up these issues again. Community associations need to address the issue before it becomes a problem to non-smokers.

Another large topic that has come up, is the ownership of pets. “Increasing cultural acceptance of animals that provide either physical service or emotional support makes it much harder for an association to advocate for an outright ban on pets–as exceptions will almost certainly need to be made that can then cause headaches for a board attempting to juggle the conflicting demands of individual owners.”[3] A person can go to their doctor and request a document that would require them to have a pet companion. The board can’t turn down this request, as it is a medical condition. More and more community associations are opening their doors to pet ownership.

The board needs to be open to the changing times. A new generation requires new rules, and if the board is not open to suggestions, they will quickly be replaced. Of course boards want to maintain their control and assert their power, but the progressive mindedness of the future might lead to a clash. It is best for the board to assess their community’s needs and take the appropriate actions to follow along.


[1] Odenthal, M. (January 2019), Amending Rules, Retrieved from The Cooperator https://cooperator.com/article/amending-rules/full#cut Accessed on March 12, 2019

[2] Ib.

[3] Ib.

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