If you live in an apartment block, or another type of multi-unit development, there will usually be ‘house rules’ for the development. House rules usually seek to regulate issues such as noise, whether you can keep pets, whether you can hang laundry from balconies or if you can install a satellite dish. When you buy your property and sign the contract, you are in effect legally agreeing to obey these rules. Before you buy, you should talk to your solicitor about the terms and conditions of the house rules.
Who sets the house rules?
The Owners’ Management Company (OMC) has ultimate responsibility for setting and enforcing the house rules. The Directors of the OMC should communicate the house rules to all owners and residents and explain how complaints about the house rules will be handled, including where tenants ae involved. Section 23 of the Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011 deals with the details of setting house rules.
House rules may be changed by a vote at the company’s AGM. You should make any complaint about house rules in writing to the OMC and ask for it to be raised with the property management agent, or at the AGM.
If you are a landlord, you should make sure that your tenants are familiar with the house rules by including a copy of the rules in the tenancy agreement. It is important both you and your tenants know what the house rules are, who is responsible for enforcing them, and what steps to take if disputes arise.
If you are a tenant and you have a complaint about the house rules, you should complain in writing to your landlord and ask them to send on your complaint to the management agent, acting for the OMC. Your landlord should also send to you any reply from the agent. The agent or OMC should not ignore your complaint. But if you are a tenant and you have a complaint about a resident breaking the house rules, you should contact the agent directly. If a satisfactory response is not forthcoming from the agent, you should contact the OMC directors.
In cases of dispute, tenants or landlords may need to seek legal assistance. But good communication and co-operation between tenants, landlords and the OMC should ensure that house rule disputes are resolved without taking legal action.