Q & A

Getting Disorganized Meetings Under Control

Q: The board of the association I manage has been conducting meetings that aren’t very effective and are unnecessarily long. The president has served on the board for several years and has become frustrated with the situation. How can I help her to streamline meetings and get control over the board members who drag out the agenda?

Recovering Attorneys’ Fees for Case Against Law Firm

Q: The homeowners association I manage is in a dispute with our prior law firm regarding the payment of legal fees. We haven’t been able to come to a settlement and are currently scheduled to go to trial later this year. If we win, can we recover attorneys’ fees and costs for such a dispute?

Understanding Dangers of Proposed HAM Radio Legislation

Q: The association I manage prohibits the installation of HAM radio towers and antennae. I’ve read about the movement to allow members in planned communities to install this equipment despite these rules. Why—and when—could members be able to simply disregard the architectural rules and guidelines? Could this damage the association?

Purchasing Property at Foreclosure Sales

Q: A home in our community has been foreclosed on by the association after the owner failed to pay assessments for a long period of time. The association wants to buy the foreclosed lot. Is there a rule regarding how much money an association is allowed to spend buying a foreclosed lot? There also are past-due real estate taxes on this lot. How much can an association spend paying the past-due real estate taxes owed on a lot if obtained in its own foreclosure action?

Following Declaration Precisely to Preserve Board’s Authority

Q: The board of directors of the association I manage has determined that we need to make extensive repairs in the community. Members were informed that this will be paid for through a special assessment. Now, one member is asserting that this isn’t valid because we didn’t announce it as required by our declaration. He’s refusing to pay, and other members are following suit. But the repairs are badly needed. Does it really matter how we announce special assessments and other charges if they are completely necessary?

Using Reserve Account Funds Appropriately

Q: I’m a new board member on my community association’s board of directors, and I’m getting up to speed on association issues. There has been some discussion about whether it’s appropriate to borrow from our reserve account. What is a reserve account, and what are some guidelines for using its funds?

Determining Whether Home Business Ban Includes Day Care

Q: As the manager of a condominium building, I recently discovered that one of the members who lives in the building has been operating a day care for profit in her unit. There have been a few complaints from other members about noise and an increased number of visitors to the building—mostly from pick-ups and drop-offs of children. I checked our governing documents and home businesses are banned.

Preventing Defamation Claims Arising from Newsletter, Website

Q: My association publishes a community newsletter and hosts a community website. I’m worried that at some point there will be a situation in which a disgruntled member or someone outside the community falsely accuses the board of defamation for something that may be published in the newsletter or on the website. What are the defenses against defamation lawsuits?

Enforcing Condo’s Minimum Lease Term Restriction

Q: Our condominium’s documents state that members can rent their units for a one-month minimum. Some members believe if they rent for one or two weeks in a month, and they don’t rent for the rest of the month, they’re complying with the documents. But the board and I feel that this is “cheating” the system and renders the restriction—which was put into place because short-term renters seemed to be less serious about respecting members and our building—useless.

Reducing Traffic Speed on Community Roads

Q: There have been several incidents where cars have been speeding within the community I manage. It poses a real danger to members, especially because we have many children in the community who play in the common areas or on the front lawns of their homes. I’ve heard of other associations installing “traffic calmers” to stop cars from speeding. What exactly are traffic calmers and what should I know about them before installing them?