Month: October 2015
The cold weather is about to arrive in many parts of the country, bringing with it the increased threat of fires due to the improper use of electric space heaters. According to the National Fire Protection Association, space heaters account for one-third of home-heating fires and three-fourths of home-heating fire deaths.
Many associations allow their members to rent out their units, provided they follow association guidelines regarding how this is done. But it’s the association that ends up having the sometimes onerous task of controlling renters’ behavior on a day-to-day basis. You can do this by creating a lease addendum containing protections for you with regard to renters, and passing a rule requiring members to attach the addendum to any lease they sign for their unit.
Q: As the manager of a condo building, I recently discovered that a member has been operating a day care for profit in her unit. There have been a few complaints from other members about noise and an increased number of visitors to the building—mostly from pick-ups and drop-offs of children. I checked our governing documents and home businesses are banned.
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.
Many associations allow their members to rent out their units, provided they follow association guidelines regarding how this is done. Renters can help a community by taking care of units that would otherwise sit empty, and by financially relieving a member who’s having trouble paying her mortgage or assessments and fees. But the transient nature of renters creates risks for the association. It’s hard to make renters have the same vested interest in the well-being of the community that members have.
Safety hazards in the community you manage can result in, at best, minor accidents and, at worst, personal injury lawsuits. You and your staff should have a risk management strategy set up that covers all of the issues that could lead to liability for the association. The common areas in your community or condominium building are rife with risk—especially high-traffic common areas, which are used by not just members, but also visitors, and can get wear and tear or damage that could cause slips, trips, and falls.
Facts: A corporation owned several units in a condominium building governed by an association. After the corporation stopped paying assessments for its units, the association resorted to arbitration, in accordance with its bylaws. A representative of the corporation didn’t attend the arbitration meeting and didn’t contest the decision of the arbitrator in favor of the association. The arbitration award was confirmed by the court. Both after the award and the confirmation of the award, the corporation was sent notices by email and by certified mail.
Facts: Condominium unit owners owed several thousand dollars in unpaid assessments, including their share of the cost of a special assessment. The special assessment could be paid by unit owners in a lump sum or split into a several-year monthly payment plan. The unit owners had opted for the payment plan. The unit went into foreclosure and a board member bought it. Under the bylaws, outstanding amounts for unpaid assessments were transferable to new unit owners. The member refused to pay the monthly special assessment amounts. The association sued her.
Facts: The management company for a homeowners association sent a letter to a homeowner who was delinquent after failing to make several monthly payments to the association. The letter was a notice that the association, pursuant to its governing documents, held a lien on the homeowner’s property in the amount of the past-due payments. The notice was written on association letterhead, and had the association’s name printed above the signature line.