Month: September 2015
Associations and their management companies have the same overall goal: Keep the community running smoothly so homeowners enjoy living in it. That’s easier said than done, however. Fulfilling that goal involves numerous coordinated efforts between the manager and association. The first effort is negotiating a management contract that fits the needs of both sides, which means making decisions about what items each side wants to demand or is willing to concede.
In many parts of the country, winter is quickly approaching, and the cold and snowy season brings with it concerns that association managers should take seriously. The winter season creates liability in the form of slip-and-fall accidents and other personal injuries due to ice, snow, and freezing rain. It’s important to set up or renew contracts with snow removal companies and other winter services vendors, and to talk with your staff about winter-specific issues they should be on the lookout for.
A family’s purple playground set gained national attention when their homeowner’s association demanded that it be removed, going so far as threatening jail time for noncompliance, as we reported in last month’s issue (“Purple Playground Leaves Family, HOA Members Seeing Red”).
Facts: A homeowner owed $150 in past-due fees to the association. The association sent her a bill for over $1,000. It then pursued a homeowners’ association foreclosure sale. The homeowner sued the association and its management company for wrongful foreclosure, bid rigging, and unfair debt collection practices, among other claims. The association and the management company each asked the trial court to dismiss the claims.
Facts: After a fire due to clogged dryer vents damaged a member’s unit, the other members in a condominium building were required to provide proof, in the form of a receipt from a cleaning company, that their dryer vents and ductwork had been cleaned. A unit owner had documentation that she had complied with the requirement, but she didn’t submit the receipt to the association before the announced deadline.
Q: The association I manage defended itself against a homeowner’s claims and won. We just became aware that a relative of the same homeowner is attempting to sue us for some of the same claims. I thought that we couldn’t be sued twice for the same claims. Is that true?
Evolving communities must deal with various issues—such as an aging membership, wear and tear on buildings and amenities, changes to the law, and the need to adapt to new technology—that can make managing and living in the community easier, to name just a few. The governing documents that initially served your association well may not work anymore to keep the community operating efficiently or make members happy to live in it.
Litigation with a disgruntled member can set your association back financially. Even if it wins a lawsuit and is awarded attorney’s fees, the time and effort it has had to expend probably took the focus off helping the community as a whole. Many member-association lawsuits stem from differing interpretations of the bylaws, rules, and regulations that govern the community. For example, a member could argue that improvements he or she made to a unit are permitted under the governing documents.