Month: November 2010

FHA Condo Recertification Due Dec. 7, 2010

On Dec. 7, 2010, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) condominium recertification process must be completed by each individual condominium complex in order to be eligible for homebuyers to receive FHA financing in their building.

Member Allowed to Keep Her Dog

Facts: A condominium association asked a court to declare that a member was in violation of the condominium's governing documents and community rules for having a dog. The house rule, made by the board, states, “Positively no pets are allowed in the building for any reason.”

Four Tips to Minimize Winter Slip-and-Fall Liability

At the beginning of every winter season, many associations begin to worry about the possibility of being hit with slip-and-fall lawsuits filed by members or guests. Although it's inevitable that accidents will occur, the association can try to make the community as safe as possible for members and consequently avoid liability for any slip-and-fall accidents.

Implement Safety Plan to Avoid CO Poisoning, Liability

With colder weather approaching, condominium associations with gas or oil heat need to worry about carbon monoxide (CO), a hazardous gas that's invisible and odorless. At least several hundred people die each year from CO poisoning, and thousands more become ill.

In one recent incident, a 24-year-old woman in Pittsburgh, Pa., was pulled unconscious from her unit after carbon monoxide had been leaking into her condominium building. Crews from the gas company determined the toxic gas was leaking from a faulty furnace.

Bedbug Protection for NY Condo, Co-op Buyers

The New York State Legislature passed a law requiring city landlords to disclose any history of bedbug infestation before leasing an apartment. Real estate lawyers say that even though the law was intended to address rentals, bedbug disclosure has become an issue in the sales market as well.

Investor-Member Required to Pay Special Assessment

Facts: An investor bought eight condominium units within an association, giving him approximately 18 percent ownership of the building. The investor consistently paid maintenance fees for common expenses, and he also paid special assessments as needed for roofing repairs and painting.

At one point, the board met to discuss a special assessment for replacing the siding in the building. The members who attended this meeting did not object to the proposed special assessment, and the board approved the replacement of the siding of all the units in the building.

Association May Be Liable for Disability Discrimination

Facts: A member suffers from a paralyzed diaphragm and a thyroid disorder. These conditions limit her ability to walk significant distances without shortness of breath. The member qualifies for and uses a disabled parking permit. Also, diaphragm paralysis is a disability covered by the protections of the Fair Housing Act because the condition substantially limits one or more of the member's daily life activities.

Association Liable for Sewage Backup Damage

Facts: A member sued a condominium association and its managing agent for negligence for failing to maintain and repair the association's sewer pipes in the common areas. Since 1999, the member experienced repeated plumbing backups in his unit. In 2003, the member wrote a letter to the board complaining of the persistent problem and reported that the plumber who responded to the latest call had recommended annual maintenance of the drain lines serving the building.

Recent Legislative Trends: States Create Ombudsmen and Raise Manager Licensing Requirements

 

In recent years, it seems as though the number of disgruntled members has risen. These members might complain of lack of transparency or failures by association boards to follow basic governance principles, such as: adopting an annual budget with notice to the members, holding fair elections for the board of directors, providing key financial information about the association, and fairly imposing association fines. Oftentimes, these complaints are resolved in court or directed to the offices of the states' attorney generals.

Association Not Liable for Racial Discrimination

Facts: A member sued the association and the management company for racial discrimination. She claimed that the association failed to take action on complaints she filed against neighbors from 2003 to 2007. These were mainly complaints against neighbors for having a home-based welding business and for unsightly conditions, structures, and objects, even though she was cited for having a religious cross displayed on her property.