Establishing Member Moving Rules

November 20, 2012
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Q: Why is it important for a community association to have moving rules? What points should moving rules cover?

A: When members or residents move into or out of a community, they can create problems. They may disturb others with the noise they make moving furniture. Or they may damage the community’s elevators and common areas. At some communities, moving companies have removed railings to get couches up and down the stairs. Some managers may believe that moving rules are less necessary in communities made up of homes on individual plots of land than they are in high-rise buildings. But even communities of single-family homes can benefit from having moving rules. Setting moving rules will help to minimize problems and give the association financial protection in certain instances.

Remember these tips when making your moving rules. First, the moving rules should be drafted with the help of the association’s attorney, and will depend on the configuration of the community. Overall, the rules should: (1) limit the moving hours to ensure that others do not get disturbed at inconvenient hours (this is especially important for multifamily buildings), say to between 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays only, and bar anyone from moving on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays; (2) require members and residents to give the association at least 48 hours’ written notice of their moving date; (3) require members and residents to remove crates, boxes, and other packing materials after moving; (4) make members and residents responsible for any damage caused to the common areas during their move; (5) require members and residents to dispose of any large items, such as furniture; and (6) require members and residents either to pay a moving fee or to post a moving deposit (e.g., $100) that they will get back if they move in or out without causing any damage and if they dispose of packing material or large items properly.

Keep in mind that, before charging either a moving fee or deposit, the association should consult its attorney. Some courts have ruled that associations cannot charge a moving fee if the governing documents say that members’ assessments cover all common charges. As to deposits, they’re not subject to the same laws as security deposits, so they don’t have to be put into interest-bearing accounts or follow other relevant security deposit laws. In fact, many associations don’t even deposit these checks unless the member causes some damage during the move. But because the laws may differ from state to state, it’s advisable to check with an attorney.