Has someone in your building enclosed their balcony, decided barbie pink is a great exterior colour? Or installed an 18 foot statue of Lenin on their roof balcony.
Is this really a problem? Or are you just being oversensitive and should be happy with your neighbors willingness to express themselves and how dare you crush their creativity?
Well, In this video I discuss unauthorized alterations and if they are a problem you need to deal with. Hint Yes, yes they are?
All joking aside, this is a subject that I get asked about a lot.
Someone will contact me through the advice website with a question like “My neighbor has enclosed their balcony”, or “They have painted their balcony Green”, “Are they allowed to do this?”.
When someone buys an apartment, they now have a shared investment with their neighbors. What they do affects others around them and vice versa.
Buildings are built to a particular style and aesthetic, I am all for people being able to make an apartment their home, while people have individual taste or style this should be limited to inside the properties only.
When you drive around and see a building that looks more like a Favela as some balconies are enclosed with different materials and outsides are painted different colours, It not only makes the building look unsightly, it can also damage the value of the property for resale, or rental.
The problem with unauthorised alterations to an apartment building or other communal property.
If someone has made alterations to their property without proper planning approval it can effect the ability of all unit owners getting their title deeds, and could make the buildings unsafe if building codes have not been followed.
To help prevent this there are regulations which are very strict to protect people and their property investment. These are part of the Immovable Property Regulations which govern communal property.
These regulations state, and excuse the legal speak,
No owner can make any alteration to their property that:
- Shall prejudice the rights of the owner of any other unit or interfere with its enjoyment by the owner of the other unit;
- Shall affect in any way the jointly-owned property, its smooth functioning or its enjoyment; and
- Shall in any way affect the walls supporting the jointly-owned property and its external walls, shall endanger in any way the safety of the jointly-owned property or shall affect its external appearance.
There of course additional regulations regarding building permits, planning approval etc.
How can you prevent unauthorised alterations to your communal property.
The easiest way to avoid this problem, is to keep unit owners and new owners informed. Remind owners of the rules of residence at each AGM and list on your building notice board the important rules along with an important note about altering the exterior of the property along with a notice that any unauthorised alterations will be reported to the local authorities and if required subject to legal action.
This also helps if people go ahead and do it anyway as they cannot argue they were not aware they were not allowed to install that 18-foot statue in dedication to their personal hero.
What you should do if they ignore you and make the alterations anyway.
It’s important to remember yourself, if someone ignores these rules it is a breach of the law, and the owners management committee can and should act to restore the property including legal action for damages/costs involved.
If you need to act, it’s important to act immediately. Have your developments lawyer send a notice to terminate works or restore the property or consider getting an emergency injunction from the court should this be ignored. If you don’t have a lawyer for your development, you should look at getting one to be on hand for situations like these. There are many out their that operate on a fixed price service where you pay an annual or monthly fee which covers all their work for items like this, contacting debtors, sending notices and so on. If this may be of interest you can send me a message through Facebook or via our website and a member of my team can help put you in touch with a firm that offers this.
If it is a case of an unauthorized alteration to the building such as enclosing a balcony, you should also speak to the local municipality and planning office and file a complaint. They have their own legal processes for dealing with this and can save you needing to go to the expense of legal action.
With this information you should be able to keep your building looking the way it should, of course its also important to keep it maintained, as an argument about aesthetics is harder to make if the building is 10 years overdue for a repaint. I have lots of communal management articles and communal management videos about maintenance on this website.
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