Month: February 2013

Change Bylaw that Includes Annual Cap on Assessments

Q: Some homeowners associations have an assessment bylaw that includes an annual cap on the amount that monthly assessments can increase without a vote of the members. Is this advisable?



Q: Your community allows pets, but limits their weight to no more than 20 pounds. If a disabled resident says she needs a larger dog as an assistance animal, must you consider making an exception to the weight restriction as a reasonable accommodation?

Proposed Bill: Speedy Foreclosures for Unpaid HOA Dues


Proposed Florida legislation would speed up community associations’ ability to foreclose on houses or condo units with unpaid dues in the Sunshine State. Homeowners behind on their community-association dues would have to make good on the full amount before fighting the charges, under a bill filed by Sen. Alan Hays (R-Umatilla). The bill would also bring state oversight to Florida’s homeowner associations.

Prepare Board of Directors for Association’s FHA Certification

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) provides mortgage insurance on loans made by FHA-approved lenders throughout the United States. It insures mortgages on single-family and multifamily homes--including condominiums and homes in planned communities. Since late 2008, the FHA has issued regulatory guidance to set standards associations must meet in order for a prospective member to qualify for FHA financing. The FHA has said that it conducts thorough appraisals to protect both lenders and borrowers.

Tell Members How to Interact Appropriately with Service Animals

Last month’s feature touched on the changing face of service animals—that is, nontraditional breeds being used as service dogs, and the ways that associations should handle responsibility and liability if a service dog of any kind happens to bite somebody (see “Keep Restricted Breed Dogs on Short Leash in Community,” February 2013).Although it’s important to speak with your association’s attorney as soon as there’s a request for a service dog that raises safety concerns, you should make sure that members generally understand how to interact with all

Using Two-Envelope System for Mail-In Votes

Q: I’ve heard about some associations using a “two-envelope” system for mail-in votes. I’m considering proposing it in our community. What are the advantages of a two-envelope system and how does it work?

Ban on Renters Applied Retroactively to Tenant

Facts: A townhome owner and her tenant challenged an amendment adopted by the association prohibiting her from leasing her unit to tenants. The owner purchased the unit before there were any restrictions on leasing individual units. The amendment was adopted in accordance with local laws and in accordance with the documents governing the units in the community.

Association Can Enforce Community Traffic Rules

Facts: An association’s bylaws provided that unless otherwise posted, the speed limit on all community roads will be 25 miles per hour and that speed limits “shall be strictly enforced.” Driving 16 mph or more over the posted limit was a “Class A violation.” Class A violations carried a $200 fine for a first offense. The association rules and regulations also contain provisions empowering the board to enforce the rules and regulations of the association, including through the use of private security guards.

Member Lacked Standing to Sue Association

Facts: A former member in a condominium sued the association, board of directors, and property manager for allegedly failing to maintain the complex’s common areas. In particular, they supposedly didn’t adequately address pipe problems and termite infestations. The defendants asked the trial court for a judgment in their favor without a trial. The trial court granted the request. The member appealed.

Decision: A California appeals court upheld the trial court’s ruling.