Month: October 2008

Governing Documents Allow Assessments for Legal Fees

Facts: A member submitted a building plan to the association's architectural review committee. The committee denied approval of the building plan because it did not comply with the setback requirements. After numerous attempts to amend the community's setback requirements, the member filed a discrimination claim, alleging that the association had discriminated against him on the basis of his race. The association hired a defense attorney, incurring $4,331.99 in legal bills.

Five Tips for a ‘Greener’ Association

High energy costs and environmental concerns aren't the only reasons community associations should undertake energy-saving measures. Already, various state legislatures have taken steps to spur associations in a “greener” direction.

Some states have passed laws making it easier for members to use more energy-saving devices. For example, Florida, Hawaii, and Utah have laws that specifically safeguard clothesline-drying rights. And states such as Nevada and Alaska don't allow associations to prohibit solar panels and other power generators.

Insurer Must Cover Association’s Claim

Facts: A condo association sued an insurer for failing to compensate the association for windstorm damage caused by a hurricane. The association had purchased a commercial residential insurance policy that provided coverage for loss or damage to the condominium building.

Member Can Build Shed on Property

Facts: An association member constructed a shed on his property. The shed was approved by the town's building inspector and received a certificate of compliance. The association sent the member a notice stating that the shed violated certain provisions of the governing documents. The member sued the association, claiming that the board lacked the authority to issue him a violation notice.

Ruling: A New York court ruled for the member.

Association Can Amend Governing Documents

Facts: Worried about short-term rentals in the community, an association's board decided to amend the governing documents to restrict rentals to 30 days or more. The board sent out ballots, and 132 of the 168 ballots were returned. The proposed amendment failed because 36 owners abstained from voting, and of those who voted, the amendment received only 59 percent of the vote.

Developer May Be Liable for Community Defects

Facts: An association sued the builder of the condominium building for breaching its implied warranty of habitability—that is, its guarantee that the building is fit to be lived in. The association presented evidence of leaks into the units, inadequately sloped decks, loose railings, improperly installed windows, and other structural problems.

Verifying Member’s Military Service for SCRA

Q In some cases, I have heard that the law limits our association's collection rights against members who are serving in the military. If this is true, can you please explain the limitations and how our association can verify whether a defaulting member is indeed serving in the military?