Can a building eject or evict a condo owner?

On Behalf of | Oct 31, 2023 | Co-ops and condominiums, Real estate law |

It’s the law of averages that putting large numbers of people in a condominium building can lead to situations where the rules are not being followed and and the board needs to do something to enforce the by-laws or house rules. Many times these disputes end up in lawsuits with the condominium seeking to stop the violation and recover the legal fees it has incurred.  Sometimes, it finds itself defending a lawsuit filed by the unit owner. Many board members may think that a violator of the rules can be evicted like in a rental building or a cooperative but in a condominium that is not likely the case.

No right to evict

Since there is no landlord tenant relationship between the condominium and the unit owner, there will not be an eviction.   In a foreclosure of common charges, the unit owner may be removed from the property in the event of a successful foreclosure.  That eviction action may be brought by the entity who purchased at auction or could be brought by the foreclosing lender or foreclosing condominium (in event of a common charge foreclosure).  Sometimes, the condominium or the lender will be entitled to an appointment of a receiver to collect use and occupancy from the unit owner during the foreclosure process.  If the court grants that request, the receiver may have the right to evict the condominium owner who is not paying the court ordered use and occupancy.

In a situation where the unit owner is engaged in a non-monetary default (like unauthorized leasing or unapproved alterations), the unit owner also will not be evicted.  The basic remedy that a condominium has to deal with these type of violations is to obtain an injunction preventing the unit owner from engaging in the unauthorized conduct.  While it is possible that a unit owner who violates multiple court orders enjoining the conduct may be subject to the contempt power of the court and removed, it’s a long road before the court will exercise its contempt power to remove the owner.

What about occupants who lease?

This analysis does not apply to a unit owner who leases his apartment to a tenant.  That unit owner certainly has the right to evict their tenant .  In a case where the tenant is violating condominium rules, some  leases and condominium by-laws give the condominium the right to bring an eviction proceeding against the tenant in the unit owner’s name and at the unit owner’s expense, That is controlled by the lease and condominium documents.

Before exercising any remedy to enforce condominium rules, the board should consult with experienced counsel to ascertain what rights it has under the circumstances.