Departments

Understanding Federal Energy Tax Credits for Condo Associations

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For co-op and condo boards waiting for the right time to make their buildings more energy efficient, this year may be the time to start taking steps to turn their desires into reality. In February 2009, President Obama signed The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, often referred to as the Stimulus Bill.

Town Not Responsible for Maintaining Water Lines on Private Property

Facts: A condominium association sued a town over who was responsible for repairing and maintaining the water lines from the public right-of-way to the community's shut-off valve. Usually, these shut-off valves are located on a public right-of-way or as close to it as possible. However, for an undetermined reason, the association's developer placed some of these valves well within the property lines of each unit owner. The trial court ruled for the town, and the association appealed.

Ruling: A New Jersey appeals court ruled for the association.

Court Defers to Board’s Judgment Regarding Common Area Maintenance

Facts: A dispute arose between a member and his association regarding maintenance of the common areas. The member claimed that the board breached its duties under the community's governing documents by refusing to maintain some concrete, stairs, and brick areas near the member's home.

Attorney-Member Disqualified from Representing Other Member

Facts: An association member who was also a lawyer filed a lawsuit against the association for alleged improprieties surrounding a special assessment for repairs and maintenance. Under the settlement agreement, the member agreed to write a letter to all members stating that he found no evidence of any self-dealing or any misappropriation of funds. The member refused to sign the letter, and several months later represented another couple living in the community. This lawsuit essentially alleged the same facts and causes of action.

Association Not Liable for Slip-and-Fall Injury

Facts: A member's housecleaner filed a personal injury lawsuit against the association. While cleaning one of the condominium units, the housecleaner slipped and fell on a wet tiled exterior walkway. The walkway is a common area that leads from the member's condominium down a stairway to the door of his garage. The lawsuit alleged that the association knew about the danger created by the wet tiles on the walkway but failed to make repairs. The trial court granted a judgment without a trial in the association's favor. The housekeeper appealed.

Board of Directors Acted in Association’s Best Interest

Facts: A member sued the association and its board members for allegedly breaching their fiduciary duties by rubber-stamping a neighbor's application to build a home on an adjacent lot of land. The member also alleged that the neighbor's planned development would violate the governing document by interfering with the member's views, outlook, and surroundings. The association asked the trial court for a judgment without a ruling in its favor, and the trial court granted the association's request. The member appealed.

Bulk Cable Contract Pushes Association to Bankruptcy

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A homeowners association in Davenport, Fla., has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, mainly for an unpaid bill of more than $100,000 to the development's cable company.

The bankruptcy petition listed two creditors holding unsecured claims against the association: an outstanding debt of $105,305.45 owed to a cable company and $50,000 for legal services provided by an Orlando law firm.

Curfews for Children

Q There have been problems with children spray painting and otherwise vandalizing buildings at night in the community that I manage. To stop the graffiti and vandalism, I'd like to propose a curfew and prohibit children under the age of 16 from being outside after 10 p.m., unless accompanied by an adult. Is this legal?

Board Members Serving as Committee Chairs

Q Is it true that the vice president of the executive board often chairs the architectural review committee? Could you provide any pros and cons of having a board member serve as a committee chair?

Members Didn’t Violate Community’s Lease Restrictions

Facts: An association asked the court to declare that some of the leases executed by its members were void. The complaint asserted that the leases violated leasing restrictions of the association's bylaws. The members then countersued, asking the court to declare that the restrictions were invalid.

The trial court denied the association's request to dismiss the member's counterclaim and declared that the leases were not void. The association appealed.

Ruling: A New York appeals court agreed with the trial court's ruling.