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Maine Condo
Keeping Maine Homeowner Associations Informed

Rights of Individual Owners

Unit Owners are subject to restrictions not found in other living arrangements.

For this reason, condominium living is not for everyone.  Condominium acts necessarily restrict the freedom that many regular homeowners take for granted.  While unit owners have substantial freedom to do what they wish within their unit, the condominium association, acting through its board of directors (sometimes called the executive board) controls the common areas, creates the budget and enforces conditions, restrictions and rules found in the condominium documents.

Rights of unit owners.

Some rights for unit owners are guaranteed by the condominium Acts:

1. The right to elect directors at the annual meeting of unit owners in accordance with the bylaws.  Owners have the right to remove directors as well, but this is very difficult to do.  Electing new directors often is the sole remedy for a unit owner who doesn't like decisions of the board.

2. The right to reasonable notice of meetings of the board of directors and the right to attend board meetings (Maine Condominium Act only).  However, owners do not have the absolute right to speak at meetings of the board unless invited to do so. 

3.  The right to view and copy certain association records, as set out here.   

4.  In condominiums governed by the Maine Condominium Act, the right to approve the annual association budget adopted by the board of directors.   This approval process is called a "ratification."   This vote can occur at the annual meeting of owners  or at some other date.  Generally, unless a certain percentage of all votes in the association turn down a budget, it is automatically adopted.  The required percentage is set out in the declaration (it is usually more than 50% and sometimes two thirds).  This reverse approval means that if an owner does not vote on the budget, it is treated as a "yes" vote. Because of this, unit owners rarely get enough "no" votes to turn down a budget.   Budget ratification is not available in condominiums formed before 1983 under the Unit Ownership Act because under that law, only the board of directors has the power to approve the annual budget.

5.  The right to a "opportunity to be heard" before the board may fine an owner for violation of the rules.

6.  The right to approve amendments to the declaration.  The vote required to do this varies.    Unit owners may also have the right to approve or to repeal bylaws and rules, depending on what the documents say. 

Owners of condominium units necessarily have less freedom to do as they wish than owners of a home on a subdivision lot.  Some people are poorly suited for condominium life and should consider other options.

Unit owners:

      -are subject to restrictions on conduct within their unit.  These restrictions, which may include pet restrictions and restrictions on occupancy and rental, must be specifically set out in the Declaration

      -can use the common elements in common with other owners, subject to restrictions in the declaration or in rules, but cannot make changes to them without permission.

      -must pay their condominium assessments, no matter what.  They cannot withhold payment of their condominium fees because they disagree with decisions of the board. 

      -have very limited power over personal conduct on the common elements, maintenance decisions and general governance and management of the property.  This power is generally reserved to the board of directors.

     

      

 

Maine Condo is an affiliate of Jensen Baird Gardner & Henry.