Breaking Bad Dealing with Rule Breakers

 As the old adage goes, one bad apple can upset the apple cart. The same theory  holds true for residents who choose to ignore bylaws or house rules, even if  they are well-intended and in place to serve the greater good of the community.  In the end, it’s the board that must take the pulse of the community and determine what rules  are appropriate and instruct the managing agent to enforce them as necessary.  

 Setting the Rules

 “The board has the task of setting the rules and policies and the management  company has the responsibility of implementing and following through with those  decided upon by the board,” says Mark Levine, the vice president of business development for New York-based  property management firm Excel Bradshaw Management Group, LLC. “The board often has an idea of where they would like to go with the policies  that they will set in place and being that managing agents manage multiple  properties and have a wider-view of how such rules are actually implements and  enforced, we can lend guidance to the whole process based on other experiences.”  

 Actually bylaws and house rules are not one in the same. Bylaws usually conform  to how the board or the association operates as a corporate entity and the  specific powers and duties therein. House rules and regulations usually relate  to use restrictions on the part of residents.  

 And there are numerous “experiences” that call into question that validity of a rule or a resident’s or tenant’s willingness to adhere to said rules. These include pet policies, noise  complaints and issues such as whether smoking is allowed in common areas, or  not at all. “The goal of any rule is to allow a great number of people living in close  quarters to live peaceably together. Good rules also make or save the building  money at the same time and the best rules allow for all of this and for  amenities that benefit the lives of the residents,” says Adam Leitman Bailey, founder and partner of the real estate law firm Adam  Leitman Bailey, P.C., with offices in Manhattan and Rockland County.  

 “Setting rules for smoking and noise have been quite effective,” he says. “Banning smoking in common areas such as hallways and requiring measures to be  put in apartments to stop the spread of smoking has been beneficial to many  buildings.”  


Related Articles

Q&A: Smoking and Shared Terraces

Q&A: Smoking and Shared Terraces

Q&A: My Rights Are Up in Smoke

Q&A: My Rights Are Up in Smoke

New Citywide Smoking Policy for Residential Buildings to Go Into Effect This August

What the Law Means for Condos and Co-ops



  • What about Boards and their counsels that constantly break the Law, Make things up and not follow the By-Laws of corporation? Most people don't even know their rights are being violated because they never read the By-Laws.
  • Yep, I see wayward association governance thriving on apathy which is abundant. The winners of board elections simply make friends or gain the trust of owners to look out for them. Voters will look the other way if stuff doesn't directly affect them significantly. They are busy. If challengers are too ugly in their criticism even when justified it seems to backfire. Politics is the lion's share of achieving a seat, not who is correct. This is bound to be frustrating to many of the good guys out there trying to do right but our governance in a free country is still better than most of the world.