In recent years, it seems as though the number of disgruntled members has risen. These members might complain of lack of transparency or failures by association boards to follow basic governance principles, such as: adopting an annual budget with notice to the members, holding fair elections for the board of directors, providing key financial information about the association, and fairly imposing association fines. Oftentimes, these complaints are resolved in court or directed to the offices of the states' attorney generals.
Many condominium associations provide storage rooms or lockers for their members for a fee. This is one way for an association to generate additional monthly income and provide a nice amenity for members living in smaller units.
One of the more difficult issues that an association and its manager deals with is what to do when construction defects are discovered in the community. Construction defect claims can be complex, time consuming, and expensive.
Your community may set reasonable rules to protect the safety of your members' children and respect other members' right to enjoy their property. But your community must be careful that your rules do not unfairly single out children, or your association may be charged with discrimination based on familial status. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, and familial status, which generally refers to minor children.
From time to time, community associations may need to amend their governing documents because of evolving community needs, such as an aging membership or aging buildings. Other times, they may need to do so to eliminate ambiguities in the existing documents or comply with a change in the law. Amending governing documents can be a very difficult and expensive thing to do, and there's no guarantee of success. Many communities invest a great deal of time and expense in the process only to see proposed amendments get voted down by members.
The Special Issue of the Insider (Dec 2009 SI) took a look at some of the specifics of the Federal Housing Administration's (FHA's) originally proposed mortgage insurance rules, their criticisms, and how some of the requirements may change in advance of the Dec. 7, 2009, effective date.
Since then, on Nov. 6, 2009, the FHA has issued two documents concerning FHA mortgage insurance requirements for condominium associations. These documents, though temporary, replace earlier proposals issued by the FHA.
On June 12, 2009, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced a new, stricter approval process for condominiums to be eligible for FHA financing. At the time, the FHA's revised lending guidelines were to be effective Oct. 1, 2009. However, since they were announced, the effective date of the new regulations has been twice postponed. Now, the new regulations governing condominium mortgage insurance will be effective Dec. 7, 2009.
The Community Associations Institute (CAI) formed a working group of industry experts to identify specific areas of the FHA regulations that need to be changed. They have prepared a policy position to advocate the changes that are needed. On Oct. 23, 2009, CAI sent comments to David H. Stevens, commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration, to assist the FHA in addressing the current challenges in the mortgage markets. The following are CAI comments and recommendations relating to the proposed regulations that affect condominium community associations:
In these difficult financial times, more and more members are finding the need to sell their homes through the short-sell process as a result of declining home prices and the present state of the economy. For members who owe a lender more than what their properties are currently worth and can no longer make their mortgage payment due to a job loss, divorce, or resetting of an adjustable-rate mortgage, foreclosure seemed like the only alternative—until relatively recently.
An increasing number of associations are dealing with weakening finances because a percentage of their members are unable to pay their assessments on time. The economic situation is grim. According to data from the Equifax Credit Bureau, high U.S. unemployment keeps pushing up the rate of mortgage delinquencies, which in turn drives personal bankruptcies and home foreclosures. August marked the fourth consecutive monthly increase in delinquencies, and the report showed an accelerating pace.