Month: July 2015

Contain Legal Costs Before They Spiral Out of Control

No matter how well you and the board of directors keep your community operating, you still run the risk of defending the association from a lawsuit, even if it’s a frivolous one brought by a disgruntled member. And legal issues can present themselves in scenarios involving compliance with laws and regulations—including fair housing and claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act—too. At the very least, you’ll want to have an attorney review board policies and governing documents when necessary.

Encourage Employees to Report Sexual Harassment

Unfortunately, sexual harassment can happen in any workplace, including among members of your staff. In addition to wanting to make sure that your employees feel comfortable and not threatened at work, you also need to be concerned about sexual harassment because an employer can be held responsible if one of its supervising employees violates federal or state laws that prohibit sexual harassment—even if the employer was unaware of the violation.

State Statute Didn’t Apply Unless Adopted by Condo Declaration

Facts: An association told the buyer of two foreclosed properties that he was responsible for unpaid association assessments incurred on the properties prior to the sale. The association claimed that a recently passed state statute gave it the right to demand payment from the buyer.

Association’s Resolution Doesn’t Defeat Member’s Statutory Right

Facts: A state statute requires a Kansas condominium association to keep detailed records of receipts and expenditures affecting the operation and administration of the association and other accounting records for five years and to make those records available for examination and copying by a unit owner—subject to some exceptions. The statute allows certain records retained by an association, such as “individual unit files,” to be withheld from inspection and copying by members.

Don’t Delay Board’s Response to FHA Request

It's important for association boards to address members’ requests under the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) as soon as reasonably possible. A board that delays its response could face major consequences, including going to court to defend its actions.

Get Proof that Members Are Aware of Rules

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.

Don’t Rely on Just ‘Broad Power’ to Adopt Rules

Some association members buy their homes with the plan to rent them to tenants. This is especially typical in beach areas or near ski mountains or nature attractions, where members can get top dollar during the "high season." But temporary tenants in the community can cause problems; they might not care about being a nuisance to permanent residents they’ll never see again. Hopefully, your association has set out parameters for rentals in its governing documents.

Set Smoke & CO Detector Maintenance Policy for Condo Members

Operable smoke detectors and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors can go a long way toward saving lives in condominium communities. A fire in one unit can damage other units or endanger lives. And CO poisoning can be fatal. Unfortunately, sometimes members don’t maintain their detectors or may intentionally disable them. Smoke detectors have long been required by law, and currently 29 states have laws regarding CO detectors.

Warn Board About Delaying Response to Fair Housing Request

Ideally, your association’s board would act efficiently regarding every request, activity, and issue it’s faced with in the process of serving the best interest of the community you manage. Sometimes, this isn’t the case. Board members could be overwhelmed, disorganized, or—unfortunately—acting in their own interests instead of members’ interests, leading to disputes with members. There doesn’t need to be a sense of urgency for the board to make decisions immediately on all matters; some things can wait.

Carefully Check What Rights Power of Attorney Bestows on Nonmember

Managing an association can be challenging enough when members are the only parties who can engage in community business like voting, or exercise rights, such as inspecting books and records. Requests for architectural changes to units or homes can get sticky, and so can disputes between members. So imagine dealing with a nonmember who suddenly has a legal right to be involved in the association. You may ask how an outside person or entity can do this; after all, isn’t the point of the association that the community is private—operated and enjoyed by the board and members?