Departments

Fannie Mae Adds Fees for Condo Buyers

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The Federal National Mortgage Association, or Fannie Mae, has taken steps to make the cost of purchasing or refinancing a condo more expensive, unless the purchaser makes a sizable down payment.

With many lenders already wary of condo loans because of their default rate, Fannie Mae has added a fee of .75 percent of the loan amount of a 30-year fixed mortgage, for borrowers who put down 25 percent of the purchase price or less, effective April 1, 2009.

Member Has No Basis for Attorney’s Fees

Facts: When a member bought her home, it was next to a basin that was in good condition, free of debris and algae, and full of fish. Over time, as other homes were constructed in the community, the basin filled with debris, and the fish died. The member was unable to enjoy her property because of the smell and swarms of mosquitoes. The member eventually sued the association for negligence, nuisance, and breach of contract.

Insurer Waived Right to Sue Condo Member

Facts: A “right of subrogation” allows an insurer to choose to take action to recover the amount of a claim paid to a covered insured if the loss was caused by a third party.

How Digital TV Transition May Affect Condo Associations

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Big changes are coming to broadcast television, and some of your members may have been contacting your management office with questions about the upcoming change. Currently, broadcast stations are broadcasting in both analog and digital. But on Feb. 17, 2009, all full-power broadcast television stations are required to stop broadcasting in analog and continue broadcasting in digital only. This is known as the digital television (DTV) transition.

Lease Agreement with Wireless Company Ruled Invalid

Facts: A group of members sued their condo association and a cell phone company to prevent them from installing wireless communication antennas on the roof of the condominium building. The members were concerned that the antennas would cause ill health effects.

The lawsuit challenged a 25-year lease agreement between the board and the company. The members argued that the lease agreement violated the governing documents and asked the court to grant a judgment in their favor without a trial.

Former Management Company Must Follow Settlement Agreement

Facts: A condo association sued its management company and an insurance broker for breach of contract and negligence. After a rainstorm damaged the community and the association made a timely claim with a proof of loss under the insurance policy obtained by the management company, the association discovered that the community was grossly uninsured. Eventually, the association and the management company reached a settlement in which the company was to pay the association $26,000. At the time, the settlement terms were to include a confidentiality and non-disparagement agreement.

Association Entitled to Reasonable Attorney’s Fees

Facts: A planned community of several subdivisions consolidated to form a single community association in 1999. As part of the transition process, the association recorded several amended governing documents with the county clerk. When a member purchased a home in 2000, she did not know that her property was subject to the amended governing documents. Later, the member sued to have the amended documents nullified and to have the court state that she did not have to pay assessments. The association won the case and sued the member for reasonable attorney's fees.

Member Allowed to Keep Her Dog

Facts: An association sued to enforce its governing documents against a member. The member's home is governed by two sets of governing documents: one for a master association and one for a sub-association within the larger community. Both governing documents prevent a member from replacing his permitted dog upon its death. However, the documents differ in that the master association limits ownership to instances where the owner had the dog when he purchased his home.

The Year-End Audit: How to Prepare, What to Expect

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Associations produce audited financial statements so that members, prospective buyers, and lenders can assess an association's financial condition. If an association's finances are mismanaged, prospective buyers may have a difficult time getting loans and may look elsewhere for a home. This ultimately may reduce home values in the community in an already difficult economic climate.

How to Respond to Unforeseen Budgetary Challenges

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There are times when even good planning cannot prevent significant and unforeseen budgetary challenges beyond an association's control. The latter half of this year has seen an increase of foreclosures that are affecting entire communities as members are abandoning homes and leaving dues unpaid. And when associations are short on funds, boards may struggle to juggle costs to prevent members from having to make up all the difference.