Month: December 2012
Q: There are a lot of children in the community I manage who frequently use our playground. Most are with a parent or babysitter, but some of the older kids stay by themselves without supervision. Is my association required by law to make sure children are supervised in our playground?
An Edina, Minn., condominium association is facing discrimination charges from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), after allegations that it refused to allow children under 18 to live at the property. According to charges from HUD, the association, its management company, and its off-site manager all violated the Fair Housing Act by prohibiting children who are minors from living in the building, despite the fact that the property didn’t meet federal qualifications to be senior housing.
Community associations often face difficulties when members lease their units to renters. Many renters who come to live at an association have lived only in rental buildings before, so they don’t really understand how associations operate. For example, they don’t understand that members in community associations own their own units, and therefore rely on each other to cooperate and follow the association’s rules. Or they don’t understand that they too are required to follow the association’s rules, bylaws, and restrictive covenants.
Major storms like Hurricane Sandy–the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, as well as the second-costliest Atlantic hurricane in history–reveal one of the biggest public-perception gaps with energy: You don’t notice it until it’s gone. As a result of Hurricane Sandy, many residents of New York and New Jersey still didn’t have power a week after the storm hit.
Before sponsoring an athletic event like a basketball game at your community, read your liability policy to see if athletic events are covered and speak to your insurance broker also. Why? Insurers often exclude injuries resulting from athletic events from an association’s liability coverage, which could leave the community open to liability for any injuries that occur during the game. If athletic events aren’t covered, ask your broker if you can buy an “endorsement,” which adds the excluded risk to your coverage.
If you have a continuing maintenance and repair contract with your elevator contractor, don’t let your staff do any work on your community’s elevators, except for routine cleaning and light bulb replacement. At most, when your staff members learn of an elevator problem, they should shut it down and call the contractor immediately. If an elevator malfunctions because of something the contractor did or didn’t do, you’ll probably be protected by your standard elevator contractor’s indemnification clause.
If a member sends an assessment check on which the number written in digits in the small box on the right side of the check is correct, but the amount written on the line is incorrect, return the check to the member. Otherwise, the bank will pay the check in the incorrect amount that’s written on the line. For example, if the monthly assessment is $222, and the member accidentally writes “Twenty-two dollars” on the line, the bank will pay you $22.
Group “re-lamping”—that is, replacing the bulbs, or “lamps,” in a certain area, such as common areas, according to a set schedule—is more efficient and less expensive than replacing them separately as they burn out. That’s because group re-lamping saves labor costs and improves lighting for members. Most managers replace bulbs as they burn out, but this approach wastes employees’ time. Every time a bulb burns out on your property, your maintenance staff must fill out a work order and replace the bulb.
Facts: A member of a condo association sued the association’s board of directors for breach of fiduciary duty and intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) and negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED) after its delay in repairing common areas damaged her individual unit. The board asked a trial court to dismiss the member’s claims, which it did. The member appealed.
Decision: An Illinois appeals court upheld in part and reversed in part the decision of the trial court.
Facts: A townhome owner refused to pay assessments for four years. The owner claimed that the only entity that had the power to enforce the assessments—the homeowners association formed as a nonprofit corporation in 1981 (1981 Association) when the community was developed—had been dissolved years ago and hadn’t been reinstated, effectively meaning that no assessments on her home could be enforced by any other individual or entity. The current association put a lien on the property and sued the owner.