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House rules

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 include 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 are involved.

Depending on the lease or the OMC’s articles of association, house rules may be changed by the Directors or by a vote at the company’s AGM. You should make any complaints about house rules in writing to the OMC and ask for it to be raised at the AGM.

If you are a landlord, you should make sure that your tenants are familiar with the house rules by including them 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 OMC. Your landlord should also send on any reply from the OMC to you. The 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 OMC directly.

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.

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