Important to know
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Usage of building's common areas - one of the problems

One issue that condominium residents frequently face is the usage of building’s common areas as storage places for personal belongings discarded by their owners. Quite often condominium residents use staircase landings as storage points for obsolete pieces of furniture or electrical appliances, which are no longer in use. This practice is not simply unpleasant from hygienic or aesthetic point of view but it might create hazard in case of fire, earthquake or other emergency that might demand urgent evacuation of residents. This is one of the reasons why the Condominium Act prohibits the use of buildings’ common areas for storage purposes. Art. 5 and Art. 6 of the Condominium Act outline owners' rights and obligations with respect to buildings' common areas. Art. 6 Para 3 reads that the owners are obliged "not to occupy spaces of the common areas in the building” where they live. Art. 11 obliges the neighbours to observe the sanitary and hygienic requirements.

In order to adequately settle this issue with your neighbours, it would be best to incorporate these aspects in writing in the In-House Rules at your subsequent General Meeting. According to Art. 6 Para 15 of the Condominium Act, the owners are obliged to “use the building’s common areas in the manner specified in the In-House Rules.” Vote on the proposals and record those in the Minutes of the meeting and in this way you will update your In-House Rules.

If however, your neighbours continue to disregard the In-House Rules and stockpile their discarded belongings in the building’s common areas, then Art. 57 of the Condominium Act provides for a way to tackle this situation. When a violation is established, it is to be documented in a Protocol completed by the Managing Board of the condominium. A copy of this Protocol is to be presented to the municipal- or regional administration, which in its turn will complete an Act for the violation. Then the Mayor issues a Penal Decree. Art. 55 of the Condominium Act specifies the amount of penalty imposed on the misconductors.

It has to be noted that, regretfully, the procedure is sluggish and entails unpleasant disputes. It would be best if neighbours could resolve this issue among themselves without resorting to this procedure. If however, understanding is impossible, it is important for you to know that the law protects the residents and provides an avenue for problem resolving.