Condo, Strata and HOA News

Tag Archives: unit

Tenants Must Allow Access Through Their Units to Common Property (Balconies)

There is a substantial amount of condominium homeowners that have balconies as part of their unit. If they check their bylaws, with a few exceptions, that balcony doesn’t constitute part of their unit, even though the only way on – forgiving the idea of a hook, rope, and a nimble climber – is through their unit.

Balconies tend to be part of the common property – owned and directly controlled by the corporation. Just like hallways, elevators, parking lots, and the grounds, balconies are under the jurisdiction of the corporation, not the owner.

In the case of balconies where the only natural access is through the unit, most bylaws indicate that balconies, through common property, have been assigned as exclusive use to the attached unit. That means your neighbour, envious of your pine tree view of the local skid row (as example) couldn’t just come over and have a seat on the attached balcony. The balcony has been assigned as exclusive use for you. You could still invite your neighbour over, but it would be at your discretion.

As common property, the board has the right to access the balcony upon request, and make any changes to the structure or the building around it.

Two owners recently found this fact out. Bernadette Rosenstadt and Brenda Bishop of the Queens Towers condominium in North Carolina filed motion to block the corporation from accessing their units and to prevent the installation of awnings. The original case and the appeal both found the condominium has the right to access the balcony through the unit, and install awnings.

The appeals review is a really good read and the judge does a very fine job going through why the action against the condominium was denied – going through many points which are applicable if you live in North Carolina, the USA, Canada or abroad.

At the heart of the argument is the definition of the owners unit (which doesn’t include balconies), the definition of common property (which includes balconies) and therefore the right of the condominium to access and modify, as also supported by the bylaws and founding documents.

So in the end, if your corporation wants access to your balcony, you’ll need to grant them access through your unit.

Ms. Rosenstadt had been previously involved with action against her condominium (and here) corporation, and there too wasn’t all that successful in her demands.