Departments

FHA Spot Approval for Condos Expires After Feb. 1, 2010

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Meeting Federal Housing Administration (FHA) requirements is important for your condominium association because doing so dramatically increases your condominiums' marketability. An increasing number of first-time homebuyers are pursuing FHA-insured mortgages for purchasing condominium units. And for communities that meet FHA requirements and obtain approval, these potential buyers can get loans that require down payments of only 3.5 percent and qualify for loans under less burdensome terms.

Survey Members, Investigate Options Before Acting on Secondhand Smoke Complaints

Many condo associations face an increased number of complaints from nonsmokers about their smoking neighbors and are being asked to take action. Oftentimes, associations are put in the awkward position of resolving the conflict between smoking and nonsmoking members. The emotions involved are heightened due to the fact that smokers believe that they have a right to smoke in their own homes, while nonsmokers believe that they have a right not to be exposed to harmful secondhand smoke.

Member’s Architectural Improvements May Be Allowed

Facts: A member obtained association approval for an addition to his home and for substantial outdoor improvements to his property. The approval specified that an outdoor structure could not exceed 10 feet 6 inches in height. However, over the course of construction, the member concluded that he had to increase the height of the structure. He increased it by a foot and a half without first obtaining a variance from the association.

Condo Association Not Liable for Member’s Slip-and-Fall Injury

Facts: While walking from her home to retrieve mail from a common mailbox, a member slipped on what was claimed to be black ice, a frozen combination of snow and slush that is hard to detect because it is transparent and takes on the color of the material upon which it lays. The elderly member fractured her hip and femur.

Association Didn’t Violate Member’s Free Speech Rights

Facts: A member who served on the association's board submitted a letter of resignation after the member became disillusioned with the board's public statements concerning a snow cleanup. A severe snowstorm had caused distress within the condominium complex due to what was perceived to be an inappropriate cleanup response by members.

Neighbors in NYC Condo Sue Over Secondhand Smoke

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A family recently sued a neighbor over his secondhand cigarette smoke, which they claimed was wafting into their condo unit and causing various health problems. The $25,000 suit was filed in July, but a New York judge recently dismissed the neighbor's motion to dismiss the case.

Governing Documents Amendment Requires Unanimous Approval

Facts: An association sought to amend its governing documents to reclassify the roofs of the condominium units as limited common areas. In its governing documents, limited common areas are defined as those common areas serving exclusively one unit or more than one unit but less than all units. Reclassifying the roofs in this manner would make individual members, rather than the association, responsible for roof repair and maintenance.

Five Tips for Passing Proposed Amendments to Governing Documents

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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.

Association May Be Liable for City’s Property Management Fee

Facts: A condominium is located in a business district where a city ordinance imposes a property management license fee on property managers for the privilege of engaging in property management services there. According to the ordinance, the license fee does not apply to a dwelling unit that is owner occupied and has its own separate water service. The city has imposed the fee on the condominium association for its “property management activities.”

FHA Issues Revised Lending Guidelines for Condominiums

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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.