Month: May 2017
Homeowners who have paid a premium for housing that boasts sunset or city skyline views, or are situated in areas noted for their scenic beauty, feel they should be entitled to enjoy them—unfettered by other structures or foliage that might later get in the way. To this end, some of the most notable community association litigation cases have dealt with view protection bylaws. Those cases involved owners who have paid for a specific view that they can no longer enjoy, or that previously made their unit more valuable and unique than others, suing the association.
Although serving on the board of an association is a voluntary duty, unfortunately it can result in board members being sued. An association should do its best to shield board members from individual liability, though. A recent Texas appeals court ruling is an example of a situation where things ended well for board members who were being sued. There, a court determined that the board members, who were being sued by homeowners in a community that had been demolished, weren’t liable.
Short-term condo rentals can help members in an association bring in extra cash. This is especially true when a condo is located in a vacation hotspot, like beach or winter sport towns. But short-term condo rentals have been argued over by many associations and members, with associations that are displeased with rentals claiming that they are a business that violates the covenants.
Whether they’re sunset or city skyline views, homes in areas noted for their scenic beauty are a hot commodity. Homeowners who have paid a premium for housing that boasts those views feel they should be entitled to enjoy them—unfettered by other structures or foliage that might later get in the way. To this end, some of the most notable community association litigation cases have dealt with view protection bylaws.
Having the right kind of insurance and enough coverage under an insurance policy is key to operating an association. After all, insurance can protect the association from liability that might financially sink the community if costs for repairs, lawsuits, and accidents had to come out of pocket. But community association insurance is specialized. And not all insurance agents and brokers are really qualified to recommend insurance products, work with the association to determine its insurance needs, and keep up with changing insurance requirements as time goes on.
The draw to residential communities for most owners is that there are rules that keep homes looking nice, and when their neighbors neglect their properties, it can not only conflict with the community’s aesthetic, but also cause damage. For example, an unresolved plumbing leak can cause damage to adjoining units. The good news is that, typically, associations’ governing documents require members to maintain their properties, and authorize the association to compel compliance.
Q: I manage a condominium building that was previously owned before the current association took it over. A handicapped unit owner claims that some elements of the building—namely, some doors—are difficult, but not impossible, for him to use as a result of his disability. He is suing the association under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and asking that the association spend what would be a considerable amount of time and money redoing the design and construction of the building to accommodate him.
Facts: An association notified some of its members who were renting their units to vacationers that this was in breach of the restrictive covenants because they were essentially running a business out of their units. The members refused to stop renting their units. The association sued the renters. A Florida trial court ruled in favor of the members. The association appealed.
Decision: The appeals court upheld the trial court’s decision.