Halloween Party in Community Room Turns Scary… and Expensive!

K.M. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I reserved our community party room for a Halloween party. I sent an email to the Association asking the permission for decorating the room for Halloween. Now I have received a violation letter saying that I am being fined for $250.00 for having “altered” the common grounds of the building. The reason stated is that I covered the security camera in the party room with a spider web. This is ridiculous. The board members have been harassing me since 5 years. They always find something to make problems for me. Please help. What should I do?

Mister Condo replies:

K.M., altering the common grounds is a “no-no” in any community association. The $250 fine sounds excessive and severe to me, especially since you claim the only alteration was an artificial spider web which I am assuming you removed after your party. Covering the security camera was a really bad idea and I hope, at the very least, you’ve learned not to do that again. Let me ask a few questions to help me better help you.

You say you sent an email to the Association asking about decorating the room. Did they email you back with a reply? You don’t say what the reply was or who emailed you back. Generally speaking, decorating and complete clean-up for an event held in a community’s function room is at the expense of the person renting the room. You didn’t mention if the offensive spider web was left behind after the party or if the room had been left exactly as you found it. If the association had to hire someone to clean up after your party, citing the spider web may have just been their way of claiming you altered the room. The “fine” levied against you may have been to pay for a clean-up crew and to get the room back in order.

Regardless, you have the right to appear before the Board and present your side of the story. When a fine is levied you should be given the opportunity to speak to the Board before they pass final judgment. If you feel you left the room exactly as you found it, you should say so. If you left it a mess, spider web over the security camera included, you may be out of luck.

I am concerned over your closing comment that you feel harassed by your community association Board. These folks are your neighbors and fellow condo dwellers who have volunteered their time to serve the best interest of your association. What possible benefit could they derive from harassing you or any of your fellow neighbors? If they are not doing a good job of running the association, why don’t you vote them out of office? Boards are democratically elected volunteers from within your community. Exercise your democratic right to vote at your next election and elect the leaders you deserve. Perhaps you would consider volunteering to serve?