Month: December 2009

Condo Association Not Liable for Member’s Slip-and-Fall Injury

Facts: While walking from her home to retrieve mail from a common mailbox, a member slipped on what was claimed to be black ice, a frozen combination of snow and slush that is hard to detect because it is transparent and takes on the color of the material upon which it lays. The elderly member fractured her hip and femur.

Governing Documents Amendment Requires Unanimous Approval

Facts: An association sought to amend its governing documents to reclassify the roofs of the condominium units as limited common areas. In its governing documents, limited common areas are defined as those common areas serving exclusively one unit or more than one unit but less than all units. Reclassifying the roofs in this manner would make individual members, rather than the association, responsible for roof repair and maintenance.

Association Didn’t Violate Member’s Free Speech Rights

Facts: A member who served on the association's board submitted a letter of resignation after the member became disillusioned with the board's public statements concerning a snow cleanup. A severe snowstorm had caused distress within the condominium complex due to what was perceived to be an inappropriate cleanup response by members.

Neighbors in NYC Condo Sue Over Secondhand Smoke

A family recently sued a neighbor over his secondhand cigarette smoke, which they claimed was wafting into their condo unit and causing various health problems. The $25,000 suit was filed in July, but a New York judge recently dismissed the neighbor's motion to dismiss the case.

Five Tips for Passing Proposed Amendments to Governing Documents

From time to time, community associations may need to amend their governing documents because of evolving community needs, such as an aging membership or aging buildings. Other times, they may need to do so to eliminate ambiguities in the existing documents or comply with a change in the law. Amending governing documents can be a very difficult and expensive thing to do, and there's no guarantee of success. Many communities invest a great deal of time and expense in the process only to see proposed amendments get voted down by members.

Association May Be Liable for City’s Property Management Fee

Facts: A condominium is located in a business district where a city ordinance imposes a property management license fee on property managers for the privilege of engaging in property management services there. According to the ordinance, the license fee does not apply to a dwelling unit that is owner occupied and has its own separate water service. The city has imposed the fee on the condominium association for its “property management activities.”

Member Required to Pay Assessment Fees

Facts: A member sued his association for negligence because the condominium was damaged when the association's subcontractor replaced his roof. The member stopped paying his assessment fees because the association failed to repair his condominium. The association filed a counterclaim against the member. It sought to collect the amount owed by the member or to foreclose on the condominium.

Association Not Liable for Disability Discrimination

Facts: An association maintains and exercises control over a series of recreational trails on portions of its “common area.” The association's trails connect to a larger system of trails maintained by other associations or by government entities. After citing safety concerns for horseback riders and trail hikers as well as damage to trail fencing, the association installed barriers on its trail entry points to prevent vehicles from using the trails.

Starting a Neighborhood Watch Program

Q  I am a member of a community association, and I would like to organize a neighborhood watch program to help prevent crime in the community. My husband is the president of the board of directors. I am worried about liability issues the association might incur as a result of my husband's relationship with the board. Will there be a conflict of interest with my husband's role as board president? Can I organize a neighborhood watch program without the association incurring any additional liability?

Association Must Arbitrate Construction Defect Claims

Facts: A condo association sued the developer of the condominium for negligent construction and negligent failure to establish an adequate reserve budget for replacement of common elements in the community. There are 102 units in the condominium, and upon the initial sale of 96 of those units, the members signed written agreements with the developer in which they agreed to submit to binding arbitration for claims arising out of the agreements.