It’s a time-worn pattern that plays out in workplaces, classrooms, and residential buildings everywhere: rules are set, and enforced strictly for awhile. Over time, enforcement wanes a little; the rules are bent, then broken—until such time as they’re being routinely ignored.
How do house rules originate? How are they modified? What constitutes a good house rule—and a bad one? How can house rules be enforced, and how should they be? Let’s take a look.
House Rules, a Brief Intro
House rules are not necessarily as old as the building, but they are as old as the cooperative or condominium association. When rental apartment buildings are converted to co-ops, when co-ops are converted to condos, and when condos are established from the get-go, the writing of house rules is part of the process, along with the bylaws and other governing documents.
“At the outset, there would be a set of house rules prepared and made part of the building’s governing documents,” says attorney Abbey F. Goldstein, a partner with Goldstein & Greenlaw, LLP in Kew Gardens, Queens.
“House rules are created by the board of directors,” expounds David L. Berkey, a partner with the law firm of Gallet Dreyer & Berkey, LLP, in Manhattan. “And the board of directors—or board of managers in a condo—has the authority to modify them.” Most house rules are pretty cut-and-dried: No loud noise after such-and-such an hour. No children playing in the hallways. No ball playing outside. No bicycles in the hallway. All guests must sign in. And so forth.