Q. Our rules state barbecues are not permitted on our balconies. Some people are ignoring the rule and cooking three times a day on their balconies. I can’t even open my windows or sit on my own balcony because of all the smoke. What can I do to resolve this problem?
A. Potential fire hazard and environmental are two reasons why barbecuing on a balcony may be prohibited. Strong odours along with thick smoke will definitely drift into a neighbour’s window where smoke detectors will be activated.
There also are laws concerning the transporting of propane through a highrise building that only complicates matters further. Propane tanks and cylinders must be stored in a safe place away from dwellings. Propane cylinders must be transported in a service elevator, or when there is no service elevator, the person must use the passenger elevator alone to transport the cylinder.
Certain condo corporations restrict the use of barbecues on the balcony because their insurance policies will not permit transporting a propane cylinder through the common elements or the elevator. Restrictions are in place to protect the residents.
Some newer condominium projects allow barbecues by having them hooked into the natural gas supply for the building that have balconies designed to prevent the accumulation of gas from any leakage. In this case, there will likely be restrictions of what can be stored on the balcony where a barbecue is located.
The writer should contact the board of directors as soon as the smoke from the barbecue begins so the board member can witness the infraction. Immediate steps should be taken by the board to rectify this violation and avoid additional barbecues on balconies.
Maybe there is a common area that can be set up for those who enjoy barbecuing. Allowing owners a choice is the key to a happy, healthy condominium community.
Q. I just moved into our first condo highrise and the declaration states only white or off-white blinds are permitted. Isthis the rule in all condominiums and why can’t I choose my own decor?
A. In most cases, condominiums choose to remain uniform from the outside in order to maintain an attractive appearance. Highrise buildings are stricter regarding their policies for window coverings then townhouse condos.
Your declaration is valid and enforceable. Unfortunately, you don’t have a choice in this matter and must comply in order to avoid enforcement procedures or letters of warning from the board of directors.
This is why it is so important that anyone choosing to purchase a condo thoroughly research bylaws, declarations, rules and regulations prior to their purchase, not after.
Marilyn Lincoln is a condo owner, director and author of The Condominium Self Management Guide, 2nd ed.