?`s and ANNEswers

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Condo Living

We all know one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. This is one reason garage sales proliferate. Why resale shops endure. But when you live in a condo community, this adage becomes problematic.

Usually the master condo documents lay out in detail what the owners can and cannot do to the exteriors of their homes. This is because in such a development the exterior is considered common property.

The thing is that in a single family dwelling, I can claim that inflatable airplanes are yard art; and no neighbors can dispute me. It doesn’t matter if my neighbor likes the planes or not. But in a condo development, the rules and regulations lay out what residents are allowed to do to personalize the outside of their dwellings.

Many condo residents come from single family homes and are not used to the idea that they can do whatever they want on the inside of their living quarters while being restricted on the outside. In addition, sales agents – eager to make a sale – are not always forthcoming about such restrictions. And often condo associations don’t even follow the rules they’ve created, letting homeowners do what they want until the property looks like a carnival of windsocks, bird feeders, artificial flowers, metal sculptures, and strobe lights.

Which is why I am currently on a committee in the condo development where I live to determine what is trash and what is treasure in terms of the outside appearance of the various units. Since we’ve had restrictions in place from the beginning – restrictions that have all but been ignored – we’re in the unenviable position of being persona non grata before this is over.

That’s Latin for “chump.” It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it before our development looks like Coney Island on steroids.

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