Departments

Association Can Amend Governing Documents

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.

Five Tips for a ‘Greener’ Association

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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.

Member Can Build Shed on Property

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.

How Your Older Condominium Can Show Environmental Leadership

More and more first-time condo buyers are seeking environmentally friendly features in units and buildings. Many condominium developers are responding by incorporating various environmentally friendly elements into their buildings' designs.

Final Guidelines for SORNA Released

If someone tells your association that a sex offender is living in your community, confirming the accuracy of the information has been made easier through the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). This law established a new, comprehensive set of minimum standards for sex offender registration and notification throughout the United States.

Association Can Impose Fines

Facts: An association claimed that a member misrepresented his ownership of the condo where he was living. The ownership of the condo had changed hands among a father, his son, and the son's company a few times in five years. The association claimed that as a result of the misrepresentation, the member was improperly elected to the board of directors and appointed president. The association held a hearing to determine whether the member should be assessed fines for violating the association's governing documents.

Don’t Debit Different Amount from Member’s Account Without Advance Notice

If a member pays his regular association assessments using automated electronic payments, don't transfer additional fees from his bank account without giving the member advance notice. Overstepping your bounds on automatic payments violates the Federal Consumer Credit Protection Act (FCRA).

Association Didn’t Knowingly Make False Statement

Facts: A member sued her association and its management company for their handling of property damage caused by several hurricanes in 2004. To fix the damage, the association had obtained a loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Understanding Costs, Hazards of Electronic Document Discovery

While technology has made conducting business more efficient, it has also created the potential for new legal problems. “Unless you're sure that your company will never be in a lawsuit, you should be concerned with the costs and hazards of electronically stored information,” says attorney Robert Machson, an e-discovery strategy expert. Electronically stored information (ESI) includes any data stored electronically, such as email, documents, voice messages, and digital images.

Community’s Tax Assessment Is Too High

Facts: A community's common areas included parcels of land used as a parking lot and a tennis court. A town's assessor valued the common areas in excess of $100,000 by comparing their square footage to other home values in the community. In effect, the tax assessor, assuming the best use of these lands would be to build homes, assessed them at a far higher value than at their previous assessment.