What can and cannot change in the facade of a condominium? Boundaries are unclear, and interpretations of the law are subjective, but it is important to understand what common property is and what is private. Therefore, we explain everything here, in detail, to avoid headaches!

Painting walls, closing the balcony: these changes can be simple, but they can generate several complications in a condominium, if they involve the common areas or the façade. According to the Condominium Law (a 4591/64), “the owner or holder of the right to purchase a unit may carry out works that modify its facade, if he obtains the unanimous consent of the unit owners”. Article 1336 of the new Civil Code, item III, says that “it is the duty of the unit owner not to change the shape and color of the façade, external parts and frames”. In these laws, boundaries are unclear, and interpretations are subjective.

Therefore, it is necessary to follow the rules of the condominium convention, ensuring the harmonious aesthetics of the construction and peace among residents. Time to explain the main details about what can and cannot be renovated in your apartment.

Difference between facade and common area

Know the difference between facade and common area:

Facade

The exterior area that makes up the condominium’s look, be it the front, back or sides.

Common area

The region of the condominium that can be used by residents, without restrictions or with the use of available keys.

what you can’t do

According to the Civil Code, any type and change in the facade or common area is prohibited. And in fact, all the confusion occurs because it is mistakenly understood that the façade would be just the outside of the building facing the street. What is wrong?

Therefore, modifications cannot be carried out on the sides of the building. It is common for roofing owners to make this type of change, saying they are made in a place with poor visibility and access, but even so, it will still be altering the façade. And to be carried out, it is necessary the unanimity of all unit owners, in assembly, to approve it.

What can’t be done on balconies?

Generally, the changes that are usually prohibited in balcony are:

• General prohibitions, which are present in most regulations, and visible area items that cannot be changed:

• Door;

• Color of walls, internal and external;

• Ceiling or ceiling;

• Rail or parapet – maintenance is the responsibility of the resident, however, the color and model are defined in local laws;

• Closing with glass or bars;

• Protection screens: as it is a security item, the installation does not need to be decided by the condominium rules, only the color;

• Protective films on glasses;

• Awnings;

• Air conditioning;

• Mini satellite antennas (cable TV operators, for example);

• Place or install clotheslines;

• Store bicycles;

• Hanging clothes and objects outside;

• Place vases or objects that could fall.

What can’t be done on Facades?

The color change is for the facade as well. However, painting the building as a whole in the same shade is not prohibited, although it must be approved by the assembly. It can be considered an improvement to the building and does not need to be part of the convention.

• Install antennas;

• Changing windows or vitrôs: this maintenance is also up to the resident, and the convention defines the color and the model;

• Close the service area: if you need to use gas for heating, keeping the area open is a safety issue;

• Change the color or texture of the walls outside the apartment.

What cannot be done in common areas?

• Changing the main door: in most condominiums it is prohibited, but some approve changes in assembly;

• Change the entrance opening: the doors open inwards as determined by the Fire Department;

• Change the warehouse door;

• Change the use, purpose or furniture of the deposit;

• Paint or decorate the hall of the apartments: the same as the first item;

• Paint or decorate the condominium entrance;

• Buildings where the gate is part of the architectural design: this would be to change the facade, which occurs in old or historic buildings;

• Exchange of gates in common buildings: does not constitute an alteration.

But why can’t you?

The trend in condominiums today has been standardization. According to surveys, one of the factors that most influence the valuation and sale of an apartment is the condominium’s aesthetics, which attracts buyers, and what detracts from the heritage is that each resident changes the façade and common areas in different ways.

Therefore, keeping the façade and the common area within established standards is essential.

Approving or allowing changes

Ideally, all prohibitions and permissions are made at the convention. Thus, the condominium has strong arguments in lawsuits.

But on a day-to-day basis, frequent changes in laws are inevitable, and many administrators end up opting to approve changes by the assembly: despite not fully exempting the condominium in case of a possible lawsuit.

Anyway, the important thing is always to make the decisions and changes in these areas official with the residents.

In case of infraction

What to do if the resident changes the facade without authorization?

First, the condominium must send a written warning, verifying in the regulations the articles that may stipulate the alteration as an infraction. In this way, the unit owner is subject to a fine, and has a deadline to undo the work.

Condominiums often lose the lawsuit for “negligence”, taking a long time to contest the change. So, if the alert is not complied with, the resident must be fined in accordance with the provisions of the Civil Code. In extreme cases, the judicial measure must be adopted, discussed and voted on in a meeting with the approval of the majority of those present.

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