Month: April 2015
Safety for members and staff in a planned community or condominium is one of the most important items on a manager’s or management company’s agenda. Tight security provides a sense of safety so that members can enjoy day-to-day life in the community without worrying about being victimized. And staff members feel that they are working in a secure environment. Plus, preventing certain types of crimes, like graffiti, saves the association time and money on repairs.
If you’re like many association managers, you’ve been getting ready for a busy summer at the community you manage. Many members invite guests into the community and host seasonal parties or activities. There may even be association-sponsored summer fun. But it’s important during this time to keep the community operating smoothly by avoiding accidents and liability for the association during the months where there is extra usage of amenities.
A seven-year-old Florida law is forcing condo owners out of their units in favor of investors who want to convert the buildings to rentals. Previously, the Florida Condominium Act required agreement from all owners in a condominium association before a “condominium pact” could be dissolved. Then, in 2007, state lawmakers lowered the requirement to 80 percent of unit owners, despite objections by prominent lawmakers, including the former governor, Jeb Bush.
Facts: Several planned community absentee members who rented their homes to short-term vacationers sued the association over an annual fee imposed on owners who rented their homes and a mandatory garbage collection fee adopted by the board of directors. The association filed a cross-claim against the owners. A trial court ruled in favor of the association. The owners appealed.
Decision: A California appeals court upheld the trial court’s decision in favor of the association.
Facts: A homeowner who served on her community association’s board of directors sued the association for civil rights violations and violations of the Fair Housing Act Amendments (FHAA) and state laws. The homeowner was legally blind and had requested that the board provide her with versions of the documents that other members received, but in a readable format for blind individuals. The board refused to reasonably accommodate her disability. Eventually, the homeowner resigned from the board.
Facts: A neighbor of a renter in a condominium building complained about excessive noise coming from the renter’s unit. The association neither sided with nor against the renter, but it did attempt to mediate the dispute by informing the renter of the building’s noise standards several times.
If community members are allowed to rent their units without any restrictions it can create a huge problem for other members, whose privacy and right to enjoy their homes might be affected. That's because some renters are inconsiderate; they don't have a vested interest in the community. And if your community is near the beach or an attraction like a ski resort, the so-called "peak" season could bring a large influx of renters.
With the proliferation of social media, YouTube, and photo-sharing websites, it may seem like personal information is everywhere—and easy to get. But in an era of what some people call “oversharing,” association managers need to remember that members still are entitled to some measure of personal privacy. You could be faced at some point with a member’s request for a membership list. Prepare yourself for this request by having a plan for protecting the association when it divulges that information.