Writing an Elegant Condo Association Request Denial Letter

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Owner requests are one of the many issues that a Board needs to deal with.  These can range from simple things like parking policy exemptions to more challenging requests like substantial unit modifications.  Unfortunately, as a Board must look out for the Association’s fiduciary duty and other considerations, sometimes the answer is no.  While “no” isn’t an Owner’s ideal outcome, you can avoid outrage by writing an elegant Condo Association request denial letter.  There are several elements that can help inform Owners and keep them from becoming enemies .  

Answer in a Timely Fashion – Or At Least Manage Expectations

Learn to blend the two together effectively.

First and foremost, answer in a timely fashion.  There are legitimate reasons a Condo Board moves slowly.  That does not mean, however, your response has to be slow.  At a minimum, quickly acknowledge the letter, and try to set expectations.  If the request is routine, offer a response date that factors that in.  For exceedingly complex requests, make sure the Owner understands their request is not simple.  If the Owner has set an arbitrary deadline, reconcile that deadline with reality.  Owners do not set deadlines, the Association does.

Explain the Reason Behind the Condo Association Request Denial

Perhaps the most important part of an effective Condo Association request denial is explaining why the request was denied.  Simply saying “Your request is denied” is a great way to legitimately piss off an Owner.  At a high level, walk the Owner through your thought process.  If their request would create undue cost, explain the undue cost.  If it violates the Bylaws, point to the bylaw.  On the other hand, if the Board can’t come up with a good reason for why you denied the request, it may be time for a little self-reflection.  Perhaps there is a way to get to yes.  

Offer Meaningful and Actionable Alternatives

No, not that kind of alternative! Although it is pretty good.

If you have to say no, there may be a way to get to yes.  Evaluate the factors at hand, and look to past accommodations or precedent.  There may be a way to turn your Condo Association request denial into a compromise.  The important factor here is to make sure your alternatives are, in fact, somewhat reasonable.  If, for example, an Owner is requesting a free long-term parking permit for a visitor (say, three months), your rules allow for two weeks, and you offer three weeks – that’s not a great alternative, because the Owner clearly needs three months.  Instead you might offer a paid parking space or a paid parking space at a discount (assuming the Association has access to such resources).  

Treat Owners With Respect

Request exemptions are the bread and butter of Condo Association Board work.  Many of these requests will result in denials.  No matter how crazy the request, treat your Owners with respect.  It helps keep your Board professional and prevents you from sinking into apathy – which are keys to a better Condo life.  


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