Month: May 2015
Many members decide to buy into an association because much of the work that goes into typical homeownership is taken care of by the association manager and board, which can save time, effort, and money for members. Membership dues and assessments are used to keep up the community—from amenities to security measures to home improvements, like new roofs. So expect requests from time to time by members who want to know exactly where their money is going—and that it’s being used effectively and for what the association's budget states.
Preparing community association meeting minutes may seem like it’s just a matter of “taking notes.” But don’t be fooled into thinking that minutes are merely a record of what has happened at meetings. Meeting minutes are not only a way to refer back to decisions that affect the way you manage the community now, they could also have serious legal significance for the association later.
Internet access is now a must-have for most people, including the members in your community. But as ubiquitous as the Internet is these days, some communities still require members to arrange for and pay for Internet access in their own units. If your association has decided that it wants to provide wireless connectivity (Wi-Fi) to the entire community, you’ll have to find a way to pay for it, most likely by adding the cost to the monthly assessment.
If a member comes to the management office requesting an accessible parking space because he’s disabled, and you see no obvious signs of disability, like use of a mobility device, you might have to ask for the appropriate documentation to support the request, such as a government-issued license plate. But beware of members who ask for more than they need—for example, a member who asks you to reserve an entire section of the parking lot for his exclusive use, rather than one spot.
If your community includes mixed-use space, your association may be afraid that members will have to battle customers who are visiting retail stores or entertainment venues for parking spaces. But worse than that is the increased risk of crimes happening at the community if nonmembers have access to parking lots or garages. This can be commonplace if a member regularly rents out his space, creating a steady stream of strangers using that spot. To prevent unwanted visitors’ access to the community, many associations restrict the use of parking spaces to members only.
When enforcing your community association’s house rules, you’ve probably heard members claim they weren’t aware that they were in violation because they never received a copy of the house rules in the first place. This could lead to a sticky situation if a member’s violation has damaged common areas or other members’ units, but the member claims that he’s not liable because, without a copy of the house rules, he had no way of knowing that his behavior was prohibited.
Facts: Several members in a condo association posted flyers in common areas, claiming that the property manager was stealing and mismanaging association funds.
The manager sued the members for defamation. The members asked a trial court to dismiss her claims. The trial court denied the request. The members appealed.
Decision: A Texas appeals court affirmed in part and reversed in part.
Facts: A condominium member signed a rent-to-own contract. The purpose of the contract was for the renter to eventually own the unit. The member asserted that the renter was entirely responsible for paying condo assessments and fees. Under the governing documents, a member with a rent-to-own contract was, in fact, a “co-owner” with the renter and, therefore, jointly and severally liable for costs.
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.
At some point, it may become necessary or just desirable to change how a common area is used. Changes in the demographics of the members or the fact that an amenity isn't used often may facilitate a change. But don't expect all members to get on board with a new use. In some cases, it could be difficult when it comes time to vote on the issue. Whether a majority vote versus a unanimous vote is needed to implement the change is of key importance.