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What the house rules should contain

One of the key documents in the house is the house rules. It sets out the rules of conduct for owners and their tenants and determines their individual rights and obligations. What should it properly contain and how is it enforceable?

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The establishment of rules for behaviour in the house is in no way an obligation, the housing association or the community of owners of housing units does not have to draw it up, in which case any conflicts and other matters are dealt with only according to the law. But it is certainly better to have one. Firstly, because the law only deals with the more fundamental offences and not with the normal rules of operation of the building, and also because this will better establish a consensus on what rules the unit owners consider fundamental and what they insist on. They can highlight or prohibit certain aspects that the cooperative or the HOA has had to deal with so far (disturbance of the night, barbecues on balconies, problems with waste sorting, behaviour and walking of animals, security of the building, etc.).

Which form to choose?

As there is no obligation to approve and have a house code, there is also no binding form or universal model. For this reason, it is not even recommended to use templates downloaded from the internet, but to write it to suit the circumstances of the house. While some of the principles can be applied anywhere, many things may be specific to your house – for example, because of the many thefts, there is an emphasis on security in the house, mentioning the presence of cameras on the house and in the common areas, or regulating the use of the common bike or pram room.

The procedure is that usually the JCC committee prepares a draft of the rules it considers important for the functioning of the house. Ideally, it will send them to the owners in advance for comments, which they can then incorporate or deal with. Subsequently, the agreement of a majority of the JVU members present at the meeting is assumed. Once approved, the rules are usually posted downstairs in the lobby or in one of the common areas of the building.

The house rules may also formally form part of the statutes of the HOA or cooperative. While the HOA bylaws govern the most important principles, the HOA house rules can go into detail and specifics, including how to enforce them. However, in such a case, even a change to the details relating to waste segregation must be approved under the bylaws amendment regime, which may not always be practical.

Of course, the house rules must not conflict with public order, good morals and the law, in particular the new Civil Code.

Hint: We have written in our separate article what all is contained in a well-written statute of an HOA or housing cooperative.

The House Rules do not apply only to the owners of flats

As we indicated at the outset, the House Rules do not only address the relationships or conduct of the owners of residential units, but also of their tenants and, in general, of anyone who is in the house for any reason, whether they are visitors of permanent residents or persons who carry out specified activities in the house, such as maintenance of the house, cleaning of common areas, repair or revision of equipment, etc.

If the building has a house code, the unit owners’ association should urge its members to incorporate the rules as part of the lease agreements that the unit owners enter into with their tenants, otherwise there may be a question as to whether the rules are binding on the tenants. It can then be a major problem if there is a rule in the lease that contradicts the house rules.

Are you dealing with the creation or amendment of the statutes of your JVU or cooperative?

We will review your bylaws and ensure that they meet the legislation and the needs of the residents. We will also set up an HOA or BD, or prepare a bespoke house rules tailored to the needs of your house. We do everything quickly, flawlessly and at upfront prices.

What should be regulated by the house rules?

The general principles that can be mentioned in the house rules are:

  • theuse of the common areas and facilities of the house – such as corridors, laundry rooms, carriage rooms, ski rooms, laundry rooms – you can regulate, for example, who has the keys to certain areas, what rules apply regarding the number and storage of bicycles or other items, the prohibition of placing items in other common areas of the house, the frequency and rules for using the common laundry room, etc.
  • cleanliness of the house – for example, rotation of cleaning services, prohibition of throwing or spilling things out of windows, cleaning provided individually by owners or tenants in case of emergencies (renovation, moving, etc.)
  • security of the house – notification of the CCTV system in the house and the areas it scans, rules for locking the house at certain hours, use of the code or chip system, rules for reporting the loss of keys or chips, etc.
  • noise in the house – for example, limiting home improvements that cause excessive noise (drilling, demolition) to certain hours only, the obligation to observe a night-time quiet period during which there is no loud singing, playing of musical instruments or loud TV or radio.
  • waste disposal and sorting – use of common bins, prohibition to throw in items belonging to the sorted waste, prohibition to put unnecessary items around bins, etc.
  • keeping pets – emphasising responsibility for keeping one’s own animals so that they do not unduly annoy other neighbours with smells or dirt.

Enforcement of house rules through fines

The house rules can also regulate the procedure for breaching them – for example, by providing for fines that can be used to enforce compliance with the house rules. The fine must be set at a reasonable amount according to the specific offence. Often, however, the house rules are set up in such a way that after the second breach of the rules, the owner receives a written warning of a possible penalty and only after the third breach does the fine come.

However, the issue of enforcing fines for violations of the house rules or bylaws is not entirely clear. In any case, the owner (or tenant) can try to defend himself in court or simply ignore the fines. Then, it probably depends on the extent of the violation and the amount of the fines assessed whether the unit owners’ assembly, on the other hand, will want to enforce payment of the fines in court.

However, the HOA would have to prove that a violation of the rules occurred and that it was caused by a particular owner or his visitor. Photographs, security camera footage, or a neighbor’s testimony could serve as evidence. If the court decides that the fine is justified, it would be possible to enforce the fine in the event of non-payment. The offender will then also have to pay the costs of enforcement and the amount finally paid will be much higher than the original fine.

What does not belong in the house rules

The house rules must not prohibit what everyone has the right to do under the law. For example, it is not possible to prohibit tenants or owners from keeping animals unless such keeping causes undue hardship to others. For example, if the animal soils the common areas, the owner may be required to pay the costs incurred for cleaning. It is also not possible, for example, to smoke in the flat, restrict visitors and their hours, or restrict the ability to rent and sublet the flat, for example as a shared accommodation. Nor can it prohibit the operation of short-term rentals via Airbnb.

However, other obligations can be established in this context and then enforced. For example, in the case of short-term rentals , an obligation can be added to the statutes to notify the owner of the apartment within a very short period of time when the occupants of his apartment change. He must report every “visit” and if he fails to do so, he may face sanctions. The unit owners’ association can therefore make renting a little more difficult, while keeping an eye on what is happening in the building.

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Statutes for HOA or housing cooperatives

We will review your HOA or housing cooperative bylaws or we will write them up for you from scratch. We will always ensure that they comply with current legislation. Our bylaws are always tailored to the needs of the residents of the building. We can also set up your HOA or housing association on a turnkey basis. We will arrange everything quickly, flawlessly and at pre-determined prices. You can pay only after the service has been provided.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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