It is that time of year again in Ohio! The warm weather entices everyone to go outside and enjoy all of summer’s possibilities. With the increased activity on your community association’s property, boards should review their rule booklets to help decrease issues from arising during the summer months.
Rules – Don’t Discriminate!
If your community association is not designated as housing for older persons, it may not discriminate against children. As a result, associations may not have adult only swim times as this would violate the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 as it does not allow equal access to the pool. In addition, association rules should not state “Children are not allowed to ride their bikes in the common elements,” but rather the rule should be non-discriminant by stating “Riding bikes in the common elements is prohibited.”
Grilling At your Association – Don’t Violate State Laws!
Ohio Fire Code regulations govern the operation of open-flame cooking devices. The Fire Code bans, with a few exceptions, open-flame cooking anywhere within 10 feet of combustible construction. Combustible construction includes, for example, building structure, furniture, fences, railings, decks, and balconies. All community association properties with three or more homes attached are required to comply with the law. Revised Section 308.1.4 of the Ohio Fire Code does allow for charcoal barbeque grilling if stringent conditions are met, including previous approval from the City Fire Marshall or authorized official, along with several other requirements. For community associations with three or more homes attached, grilling may not be supported under state law.
There is an exception that allows installation of a nature gas fire fueled open flame cooking devices or appliances under specific guidelines. The guidelines for natural gas grills require owners to have the City’s fire chief’s written approval and comprehensive general liability insurance in an amount sufficient to cover any damages to persons or property. In addition, the fuel supply for the natural gas must be connected to the homes’ natural gas supply, the storage of tanks or cylinders is prohibited to be near the area where the cooking is to occur, at least one portable fire extinguisher is nearby, and when the natural gas is on all combustible materials that are not part of the home must be kept at least 5 feet away from the open flame cooking device.
Outdoor Noise– Summer Time Fun or Nuisance?!
For many owners summer brings joyous outdoor noises; bouncing basketballs, splashing of water from pools, or voices of those at outdoor gatherings. For others, however, they view these noises as nuisances and complain about the additional “unnecessary” and “unreasonable” sounds and demand that the Association take action to quell the unwelcomed summertime racket.
A common provision in association documents is a prohibition of noxious or offensive activities that creates a disturbance to other owners. While every owner has the right to a peaceful, uninterrupted enjoyment of their property, this expectation differs for each individual. Under the law, nuisance is defined as an obnoxious annoyance or disruption that prohibits one’s free use, possession, or enjoyment of their property and the harm must be substantial and continuous. It is important to remember, that conduct that may cause inconvenience or mere annoyance to another owner is NOT considered a nuisance in the legal definition. As a result, so long as the basketball is bouncing during reasonable and normal hours of the day, this would not constitute a nuisance, but merely a normal every-day summer activity that every owner should be able to tolerate.
In addition, the association should only be involved in enforcing a nuisance complaint if is a violation of the association’s rules and regulations regarding conduct in the common elements, and not a private dispute between neighbors.