Q & A

Determining Liability to Handicapped Member under Fair Housing Law

Q: I manage a condominium building that was previously owned before the current association took it over. A handicapped unit owner claims that some elements of the building—namely, some doors—are difficult, but not impossible, for him to use as a result of his disability. He is suing the association under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and asking that the association spend what would be a considerable amount of time and money redoing the design and construction of the building to accommodate him.

Shielding Board Members from Individual Liability

Q: A weather disaster has severely damaged many of the homes in the planned community I manage. The local government is determining whether the community should be demolished. Several board members want to do this, but homeowners are protesting. The board members are worried that if they take action, they’ll be held legally responsible. What are the chances of this, and are there any recent cases that address this issue?

Using Management Staff to Uncover Drug Operations

Q: One of my management staff members suspects that a homeowner in our planned community is manufacturing illegal drugs. I’m concerned about the implications of illegal drugs of any kind in our community, and that the association could somehow be in trouble for this activity. What can I do going forward to get a handle on this type of situation?

Ridding Community of Graffiti

Q: Unfortunately, since the presidential election, there have been several incidences of graffiti in our community, referring to some of the politically charged campaign messages. We’ve never had a problem with any kind of vandalism in the past. What steps should we take now?

Collecting Rent from Delinquent Members’ Tenants

Q Some of the economically distressed members in the community I manage have decided to lease their homes to tenants to help cover their expenses. At the same time, the landlord-members seem to have made paying assessments a low priority and may have become delinquent. Can an association collect rent directly from a tenant to pay any delinquent assessments? If so, what is the best way to do this?

Banning Outspoken Board Member from Executive Sessions

Q: The president of the board of directors for the association I manage complained that the board was threatening to exclude her from sessions because she had talked about confidential information to nonboard members and had stated that she would continue to do so. She asked me whether it was permissible for the board to do that. I’ve never encountered this problem in my association management career so far. Could the board ban a board member from attending meetings because of what it regards as inappropriate behavior?

Determining Whether Condo Resident Is Protected by Debt Collection Law

Q: A resident in one of the units in the condominium building I manage denies that she caused damage to the hallway outside of her unit. A family member of the resident is the actual owner of the unit, but she has been permitted by the association to live there. Under the governing documents, the unit’s owner is obligated to pay for this type of damage. I sent the owner several letters notifying him that he must pay for repairs.

Determining Proper Party to Be Liable for Common Area Accident

Q: An elevator repair person injured himself while working on one of the elevators in the common area of the condo building I manage. He’s threatening to sue our board of managers, as well as the company that previously owned the building before it was recorded as a condominium, and 200 individual unit owners. What are some factors that could determine which defendant is held liable for the accident?

Is Required Use of Less Convenient, but Accessible Elevator Discriminatory?

Q: A unit owner at the condominium building I manage hasn’t paid assessments in several months. Under our governing documents, the association may revoke her right to use amenities like the pool, sports courts, and common areas. The member typically uses an elevator that’s located in a common area to access her unit, but there are other elevators that also lead to her unit and aren’t part of a common area that she’s restricted from using.

Ambivalence Toward Smoking Going Up in Flames

Q: Several unit owners in the condominium building I manage are longtime cigarette smokers. I’ve fielded an increasing number of complaints from nonsmoker unit owners, some of whom are claiming the cigarette smoke is affecting their health. The board has been working with our attorney on whether and how to create a smoking ban inside the building. In the meantime, one of the unit owners has moved out and is planning to sue the association because she can’t live in her unit while it’s filled with secondhand smoke.