Many associations are seeing an increase in the number of members defaulting on their mortgages and not paying their association fees. This is a problem for many communities because if even a few members do not pay their assessments on time, an association can face serious financial problems. Reserves can become depleted, and the community might have to make trade-offs about which bills to pay and which services to forgo.
Facts: A member sued a condo association for discrimination under the Fair Housing Act. The dispute started when the member challenged an amendment to the community's governing documents limiting the number of times a member could lease a unit to three times. The member asked the trial court to prevent the association from implementing the amendment before the actual trial begins. The member argued that this amendment would have a racially discriminatory impact on potential renters.
Ruling: An Indiana district court denied the member's request.
Facts: An association sued a member for violating community building restrictions. The member converted his garage to a recreation room without board approval and in violation of the governing documents. The governing documents provide that all homes are to be used for “none other than single family residential purposes with usual and appropriate outbuildings and a private garage.”
To encourage member participation in community affairs, many associations have open meetings that permit members to attend and speak about their concerns. Allowing this exchange fosters trust between the board and the community and gives members a chance to voice their opinions and concerns.
As winter approaches and erratic weather patterns become more frequent, managers and condo association boards may want to be proactive in keeping their condo building roofs in the best shape possible. Harsh weather conditions, such as heavy rain or snow, strong winds, and extreme temperatures, can cause substantial damage to a building's roof, says Robert W. Lyons, executive vice president of a roofing company and member of the roofing industry for over 25 years.
Facts: A member submitted a building plan to the association's architectural review committee. The committee denied approval of the building plan because it did not comply with the setback requirements. After numerous attempts to amend the community's setback requirements, the member filed a discrimination claim, alleging that the association had discriminated against him on the basis of his race. The association hired a defense attorney, incurring $4,331.99 in legal bills.
High energy costs and environmental concerns aren't the only reasons community associations should undertake energy-saving measures. Already, various state legislatures have taken steps to spur associations in a “greener” direction.
Some states have passed laws making it easier for members to use more energy-saving devices. For example, Florida, Hawaii, and Utah have laws that specifically safeguard clothesline-drying rights. And states such as Nevada and Alaska don't allow associations to prohibit solar panels and other power generators.
Facts: A condo association sued an insurer for failing to compensate the association for windstorm damage caused by a hurricane. The association had purchased a commercial residential insurance policy that provided coverage for loss or damage to the condominium building.
Facts: An association member constructed a shed on his property. The shed was approved by the town's building inspector and received a certificate of compliance. The association sent the member a notice stating that the shed violated certain provisions of the governing documents. The member sued the association, claiming that the board lacked the authority to issue him a violation notice.
Ruling: A New York court ruled for the member.
Facts: Worried about short-term rentals in the community, an association's board decided to amend the governing documents to restrict rentals to 30 days or more. The board sent out ballots, and 132 of the 168 ballots were returned. The proposed amendment failed because 36 owners abstained from voting, and of those who voted, the amendment received only 59 percent of the vote.