Month: December 2013

Provide—and Preserve—Handicap-Accessible Parking

It’s crucial for associations to comply with the Fair Housing Act (FHA). It not only makes living in the community easier for members with disabilities, but it also helps you avoid a lawsuit stemming from a member’s accusation that you haven’t accommodated their needs. Parking is an especially hot topic when it comes to reasonable requests for accommodation by members and their renters.

Don’t Put Condition on Reasonable Accommodation Request Approval

When a homeowner in your community makes a reasonable request for accommodation in order to modify their property, consider very carefully how you’ll handle your approval or denial of the request. In a recent Alabama case, a trial court determined that an association’s “conditioned approval” of a disabled owner’s new garage was actually a constructive denial of his reasonable request for an accommodation. 

New York City Gets CAI Chapter

Community Associations Institute (CAI) has established a chapter in New York City. The Big Apple chapter will represent condominiums, cooperatives, and homeowners associations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island. Dozens of community association leaders in New York and neighboring states banded together to lay the groundwork for the Big Apple chapter, which will be “in organization” until it meets CAI certification requirements, a process that generally takes two to three years. CAI has certified more than 60 chapters.

Silent Screening: Should Associations Divulge Details of Denial?

By Donna DiMaggio Berger, Esq.

Making Up for Unexpected Budgetary Shortfall

Q: My association’s board and I have carefully planned for the future of the community I manage, but we’ve run into unexpected budgetary problems in the past despite that. It seems inevitable that it will happen again at some point. How can we effectively respond to unforeseen budgetary challenges in the future?

Don’t Invoke “Good Standing Status” Without Checking Association Rules

If a member violates a rule, you might be tempted to deem him a “member not in good standing,” and use that status to deny him certain privileges in the hopes that he’ll rectify the situation. But in order to do this, the association’s rules must provide for using good standing as a basis for revoking privileges.

Use Plants to Improve Common Area IAQ

Take advantage of interior landscaping to do more than just improve the aesthetic of your community’s common areas. Interior landscaping improves indoor air quality (IAQ) and can even lower your energy costs. Plants filter air by absorbing pollutants and they produce oxygen—which is especially helpful in sealed, energy-efficient buildings that have less exchange of fresh outdoor air for stale indoor air. Plants also maintain an appropriate humidity level, keeping it lower than the level at which it can cause mold and bacteria to grow. You can realize cost savings benefits, too.

D.C. Summit Addresses Critical Association Issues

Community Associations Institute (CAI) members from around the country met in Washington, D.C., recently to address critical community association issues with officials at the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and key Congressional leaders.

Late Fees Must Be Reasonable Under ‘Totality of Circumstances’

Facts: An association sued a member for unpaid common expense assessments, among other fees and charges. The trial court ruled in the association’s favor and awarded damages that were more than what the member owed. After the association informed the court that the member didn’t owe as much, the court reduced the award to several thousand dollars less than the member’s debt. The new award didn’t include late fees the member owed.

Association Had No Fiduciary Duty to Member

Facts: A member noticed a window leak in her two-story penthouse unit. For several years after, the member reported that and other water leakage problems to the association’s board. The association eventually waterproofed the exterior masonry, which resolved the problem. But a dispute arose over the need to replace the unit’s wall of windows and over who should bear the cost of replacement.