Month: August 2014

Can New Board Enforce Rules Old Board Overlooked?

Q: Along with several other new members, I’ve recently been elected to my association’s board. We’re hoping to start enforcing community rules that the old board let slide. What’s the best way to go about doing this, or has the association waived its right to enforce these overlooked rules?

Proceed Cautiously When Enforcing Overlooked Rules

Boards should strive to set fair rules and enforce them consistently and effectively. But that’s not always easy to do. Sometimes boards let rules slide because it takes less effort, especially if only minor rules are being disregarded by members. But this creates a huge problem for an incoming board that realizes once it enters office that its predecessors haven’t enforced community rules.

Following Declaration Precisely to Preserve Board’s Authority

Q: The board of directors of the association I manage has determined that we need to make extensive repairs in the community. Members were informed that this will be paid for through a special assessment. Now, one member is asserting that this isn’t valid because we didn’t announce it as required by our declaration. He’s refusing to pay, and other members are following suit. But the repairs are badly needed. Does it really matter how we announce special assessments and other charges if they are completely necessary?

Don’t Start Renovations Without Informing Members

Common area renovation projects can be a nuisance to members. And while most members are usually supportive and tolerant of those projects because they realize they help to make the community a better place to live, not everyone feels that way. Frustration can crop up if members find that they have to unexpectedly put up with noise and construction, especially if it’s near their units.

Train Staff for Elevator Breakdowns

If there’s an elevator in your community, it’s important that your employees know the proper steps to take if it breaks down while passengers are in it. If the employees don’t take the proper steps and passengers get injured during the breakdown, the association could get sued.

Don’t Forget About Bedbug Threat

Getting rid of bedbugs can be extremely difficult; they multiply quickly and can move easily from one location to another. Bedbug problems have been spreading in recent years, particularly in major cities like Boston and New York, sparking much concern among public health and housing officials. Bedbug issues were prominently featured on national and local news for many months at the height of outbreaks. It seems like the issue isn’t talked about as much anymore, but don’t be fooled into thinking that infestations have died down.

Associations Couldn’t Establish ‘Adverse Possession’ of Bike Trails

Facts: A corporation bought undeveloped land adjacent to two planned communities. The communities’ homeowners associations asserted that the company was required to allow members to continue using bike trails on the undeveloped land. The corporation argued that the associations had no claim to the bike trails and that members wouldn’t be allowed to use them. The associations sued the corporation, asking the trial court for a judgment in their favor without a trial. The trial court ruled against them, and they appealed.

Association’s Ban on Rentals Was Unreasonable

Facts: A homeowner had leased her house in a community for 26 years until the association adopted an amendment to its restrictive covenants that prohibited the leasing of units by individual owners. However, the association reserved the right to lease vacant units to renters. The homeowner asked the association for a hardship exception because she was unable to live in her unit herself and needed the rental income it generated. The association denied the request.

Bylaws Required Unit Owners to Comply with Water Valve Installation

Facts: A condominium was mostly residential, with two commercial units. One commercial unit was a parking garage owned by two brothers. A dispute arose over whether the condominium should install a backflow preventer valve in the garage. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) ordered the condominium to install the valve in the garage, in accordance with plans DEP had approved. It announced that it would fine the condominium and possibly terminate water service to the building if the order wasn’t followed.

Trial Court Had Subject Matter Jurisdiction Over Member’s Claim

Facts: An association sued a member for possession of his unit after he refused to pay assessments and common expenses after being served with a demand notice by the association. At a hearing the member acknowledged that he owed the association money, but he disputed the amount of the debt. He asked the court to dismiss the case. The association asked the court for a judgment in its favor without a trial. The court ruled in favor of the association, and the member appealed.