On a classic episode of the TV show The Simpsons, the town read its founding charter only to discover that the mayor of Springfield was supposed to get two pigs every year.
While there are probably no co-op or condo documents in effect today that deal with pigs, the point is that if bylaws and house rules aren't read and updated, sometimes, silly things can slip through the cracks.
It's important for any co-op or condo to have a clear set of rules and bylaws to help govern the building, and because times change, as do community standards, attitudes and populations, bylaws do get out of date. This means that rules and regulations that once made sense, or that reflected the morals and standards of their day, can become antiquated, irrelevant or just plain silly as the years pass.
"By taking a gander at the bylaws and house rules in older co-ops and condos you really get a great spectrum of history in New York City over the last 100 years," says Luigi Rosabianca, principal attorney and founder of Rosabianca & Associates in Manhattan. "I guess, if we look at it historically, the rules and bylaws were set by whoever built the building, unless they were amended. They would always reflect the…traditions of the time. If a building was built in 1920, obviously the rules will be a lot different than one built in 1990. Through the years I have seen or heard about some funny or unique things that were written."
Times They Are a Changing
One of the reasons that bylaws become archaic is that society changes through the decades. Back when some of these prewar buildings were built, some didn't allow certain ethnicities to live there, some didn't allow unmarried women to entertain past a certain hour. Still others wouldn't allow servants to use the front door. Things like that seem ridiculous today.