Marisa, an owner, sent us a desperate email asking whether community storage rooms can be used for non-storage purposes. One resident was using the storage room as a personal workshop, disturbing her and her family with the noise. Can I demand that the workshop be closed? Can the storage room be used for other purposes? This article tries to answer this and other questions about the use of community of property owners’ storage rooms.
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What is a community storage room?
It is a non-habitable space for storing belongings that are not being used. However, far from limiting themselves to using these rooms as storage spaces, we often find that some unwitting residents convert such spaces into gyms, workshops, cold rooms or even makeshift living spaces. We’ve heard it all. Allocating a storage room for these purposes disturbs and inconveniences residents and is an improper use of the room. Naturally, residents can keep whatever they want in their storage room, but they must adhere to certain standards and refrain from annoying others.
Therefore, a storage room is not:
- A smoking club
- A rock band rehearsal room
- A gym
- A bedroom or office
- A place for pets
What the Horizontal Property Law says about the use of common areas
Without it referring expressly to storage rooms, we already know that Article 7.2 of the LPH prohibits the owners or occupants of flats or premises from engaging in activities that are harmful to the property, or that may be classified as annoying, unhealthy, harmful, dangerous or illegal. This article provides more information about the use of common areas.
Can an owner use a storage room for non-storage purposes?
No, unless the by laws state that storage rooms can be used for non-standard purposes.
We recommend that the community regulate the use of storage rooms through internal regulations to prevent the rooms being used for anything other than the storage of belongings.
However, if your neighbour is using the storage room improperly or breaching community rules, the first thing you could do is tell them calmly that they are not using the space appropriately. The aim is that they stop what they are doing.
However, if you don’t get anywhere, we encourage you to take up the issue with the community President. The President will decide whether to talk with the resident and can then share all the information with the property manager if legal action is required. Usually, residents are unaware that they are using the room improperly and will stop once they are informed.
We recommend: Advice for getting on with your neighbours in your community of property owners
Who pays the electricity for storage rooms?
The community usually pays the electricity for storage rooms because the rooms are connected to the main supply and don’t have individual electricity meters. So the continual misuse of storage rooms can increase electricity usage—which is charged to common funds—and to other situations that can negatively impact owners, such as:
- Electricity supply overloads
- Claims that are not covered by the building’s insurance