Month: June 2016
Community association boards occasionally want to make an exception to an association rule or restrictive covenant for a member whose unusual circumstance the board feels warrants an exception. Other times, a board may want to make a community-wide exception. Boards worry, though, that if they make an exception to a rule or restrictive covenant, they might be prevented from enforcing it at some time in the future. That’s because some courts have ruled that associations had forfeited their right to enforce certain rules or restrictive covenants by allowing violations.
Amenities have always played a big part in homeowners’ attraction to planned communities and condominiums. After all, being able to enjoy a pool, workout room, or clubhouse without the hassle of personally maintaining it is worth the cost of association fees to many people. Ideally, members would have to pay only for the amenities they use, but that’s not the case in traditionally run associations.
Unfortunately, sometimes annoying behavior by a member in your community can provoke a violent reaction from another member. Badly behaved pets, loud music, or acting inappropriately in common areas can lead to arguments that escalate. You and your staff should act quickly to avoid liability for violent disputes between members. If members take matters into their own hands because you did nothing and someone is injured, you could be held liable. A court might rule that your failure to intervene in the dispute created a dangerous condition.
Facts: A homeowner became treasurer of an association board. After looking at the association’s finances, he wanted to conduct an independent audit of the association’s books and records. The homeowner sent an email with the request for certain documents to the board’s president and the association’s management company. He claimed that the association refused to give him the documents he needed. The homeowner sued the association and the management company.
A San Diego Superior Court ruling has untangled a messy dispute for a California community association, ruling in favor of the association by confirming that the board’s bylaws and covenants, conditions, restrictions, and reservations must be followed for current and future HOA elections.
Although negative or controversial items about homeowners associations tend to make their way into the news more than glowing reviews of planned community living, associations and their managers earned high marks according to recent Community Association Institute polls. The organization’s national survey has revealed that homeowners remain overwhelmingly satisfied with their communities, their homeowner leaders, and professional managers.
Q: Our association has a no-pets policy. We think that a member is trying to pass off his pet as an assistance animal. He’s provided us with paperwork to document his claim, but it appears to be something he’s gotten online, not from his own healthcare provider. What should we do?
Association boards are filled with people from all walks of life. And although the volunteer position offers no financial compensation, board members have considerable responsibilities. They are basically in charge of running a “business” with all the same attention paid to revenues, expenses, and assets. On top of carrying out the association's administrative duties, board members have to be concerned with exposing themselves to one of the perils of their position—the potential for conflicts of interest.
HUD recently announced that it has won an important appeal in a fair housing case against a Puerto Rico condominium association for discriminating against a resident with disabilities by refusing to allow him to keep an emotional support animal.
Disability discrimination claims account for more than half of all fair housing complaints, often based on disputes over requests by members and other residents with disabilities to have assistance animals.
There’s a lot of confusion over assistance animals, which can go by so many names—service animals, therapy animals, companion animals, emotional support animals—and there are different sets of rules on when, where, and what types of animals may be used by individuals with disabilities in various settings.