Banning Natural Christmas TreesPosted by Jonathan Klein on July 19, 2023 at 1:24 pm
Myself and the other board members for our condominium are considering banning natural Christmas trees from the building for fire safety reasons. I have a few questions for the forum about this:
Is this a common safety precaution in condominiums and apartments?
Is it only recommended for specific types of buildings?
Do you know of any information on this topic that is available on the internet?
MemberJuly 25, 2023 at 1:09 pm
It sounds to me like your condo board is trying to reduce the chance of fire, which is a good risk management strategy!
Here are some thoughts for you to consider!
I’m assuming in my reply that your bylaws do not explicitly state that wood christmas trees are banned.
Note that condo legislation does not allow the condo board to make a ‘rule’ that restricts the owners’ use of their units. So if the wood christmas trees that you are worried about are within residential units, you will have to rely on your bylaws to ban the wood christmas trees. This kind of initiative can likely be enforced through your bylaws if you have a clause similar to: “owners shall not use their unit in a manner that causes a hazard or causes the corporation insurance premium rates to increase.” This is a fairly common clause in condo bylaws, but not universal. If you do not have this clause in your bylaws then look to see if there is another clause that could support the condo board’s initiative.
However, if the wood christmas trees you are worried about are installed on common property, including a balcony or patio or front/back yard, then the condo board can make a rule banning wood christmas trees. But note that rules created by the condo board cannot easily be enforced (you cannot fine a unit for not complying with a rule)… so when you send out the notice to owners about the new rule really emphasize that you are trying to reduce the chance of fire to promote safety and to keep insurance rates as low as possible.
I tried to cover all possible bases in my response, but let me know if I am missing an important component of your condo rules or bylaws that would assist you.
MemberJuly 26, 2023 at 12:22 pm
Thank you for your detailed reply.
Our bylaws have a section titled “Rules and Regulations” which is part of the registered document. Within this section there are a couple clauses that might be considered applicable to natural Christmas trees:
1. An owner shall not:
(j) store any coal or any combustible, inflammable or offensive goods, provisions or materials in his unit or on the common property;
(k) do anything or permit anything to be done in his unit or the common property which will or would tend to increase the risk of fire or the rate of fire insurance premiums with respect thereto;
Since these clauses are part of the registered document, can they be enforced the same as a bylaw, even though they are in a section for “Rules and Regulations”?
I suppose it would be difficult to argue that these clauses apply to natural Christmas trees because they are not flammable if they are fresh, watered properly and discarded before they dry out, but what do you think?
MemberAugust 24, 2023 at 9:10 am
Apologies for the late reply as I didn’t see your response until now!
I would say it’s going to be tough to enforce the bylaws in the way you intend with the wording you have… But I think that most people out there are reasonable if you are kind and logical about how you present information. If you present this ‘rule’ to ban natural christmas trees as a way to reduce risk to the entire complex many people are probably going to comply. Really lean into the fact that this is to benefit all the residents and you’ll probably get pretty good results. Good luck!
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