A condo declaration is a document that creates the condominium corporation. It defines what each unit is physically, establishes the common elements, and assigns responsibility for repair and maintenance of each unit and the common areas. It also sets out each owner’s proportionate interest in the common elements and share of the common expenses, and specifies what the common expenses are.
Condo by-laws are rules that exist to govern a condominium corporation’s internal operations. They exist as a more flexible option in conjunction with the condo’s declaration, which sometimes requires the consent of all condo owners and mortgagees to change. They are a bit like the government creating a new law rather than changing the constitution.
There are many different types of by-laws that exist for the various types of condos. Generally, they promote the safety, security and welfare of owners and the property and assets of the corporation, and will deal with items such as pets, tenants, and renovations. They will fill in the blanks left by the declaration, making it more complete and specific.
Going back to the government, rules are like regulations – they are the easiest to pass, and therefore the least restrictive. That doesn’t make them unimportant, however: as Chris Jaglowitz noted in a recent post at the Ontario Condo Law Blog, failing to obey the rules doesn’t make you immune to them, and breaching them could result in financial liability if repairs are necessary because of your actions.