My condo board managers voted to cap the number of apartments in the building that can be rented out at two. When I bought my apartment as an investment, the bylaws said that I could rent it out. Is there any way to get around the two-unit limit? I'm concerned that other people may want to rent, and since we've never lived in the apartment, it would be their turn to get to do so.
First, you should carefully re-read those bylaws to find out whether your board really has the authority to impose a restriction on rentals, according to our experts.
A condo board may move to limit rentals because some traditional banks are reluctant to approve buildings for mortgages when there aren’t enough primary residents living there, says Deanna Kory, a broker with Corcoran.
Other boards, meanwhile, will include in their bylaws language that allows them to weigh in on rentals on a case-by-case basis.
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"Most condominium bylaws simply provide the board with a right of first refusal with respect to the leasing of the units," says Jeffrey Reich, partner at the law firm Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas LLP.
If renting out a condo requires the board's consent, or if the board has the authority to limit the number of units that can leased out, those restrictions will be laid out in the bylaws, or in an amendment, which Reich explains also would have to be implemented in accordance with those bylaws.
Amending the bylaws isn't easy. Many condos require the approval of two thirds of owners for an amendment to take effect, according to the New York Times, while others only require the board's okay. An amendment like the one you're facing can mean a conflict between condo owners and the board.
"My building, which is a condo, did put a restriction on rentals at one point," Kory says. And when a prospective buyer was turned down over the question of leasing their apartment, the buyer hired an attorney and the board's decision was overruled.
"Ultimately, since it’s a condo and people want to be able to rent out their apartments, the board that put these restrictions in place was eventually thrown out mid-term," Kory says. "The vast majority of owners were against the concept of restricting rentals and non-primary usage. I have to say, it was quite a battle."
As in this example, if your condo's bylaws don't prevent the board from putting a strict cap on rentals, you may still be able to push back by banding together with fellow condo owners who object to the new policy.
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