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?
When enforcing your community association’s house rules, you’ve probably heard members claim they weren’t aware that they were in violation because they never received a copy of the house rules in the first place. This could lead to a sticky situation if a member’s violation has damaged common areas or other members’ units, but the member claims that he’s not liable because, without a copy of the house rules, he had no way of knowing that his behavior was prohibited.
For an association, its board of directors, or manager, there is never a good time for a lawsuit. If the association has been forced to sue a member due to chronic rule violations or unpaid assessments, it can lead to expensive and protracted litigation. And if the association is being sued, it faces those same problems. But in the case of a discrimination claim by a member, statutory fines and governmental involvement also pile on. A discrimination lawsuit additionally carries with it the potential to damage your community’s reputation.
If community members are allowed to rent their units without any restrictions it can create a huge problem for other members, whose privacy and right to enjoy their homes might be affected. That's because some renters are inconsiderate; they don't have a vested interest in the community. And if your community is near the beach or an attraction like a ski resort, the so-called "peak" season could bring a large influx of renters.
Facts: A homeowner had leased her house in a community for 26 years until the association adopted an amendment to its restrictive covenants that prohibited the leasing of units by individual owners. However, the association reserved the right to lease vacant units to renters. The homeowner asked the association for a hardship exception because she was unable to live in her unit herself and needed the rental income it generated. The association denied the request.
Facts: Homeowners sought to invalidate a covenant adopted by their community association prohibiting the rental of their homes for less than 30 days. A trial court ruled in favor of the homeowners without a trial.
At some point, you may have considered providing storage rooms or lockers for members. It can work in your favor in two ways because it gives members a great amenity, especially those who are living in smaller units, while providing an opportunity to generate income for the association—if you charge a fee. Using common space storage to generate income also shows members that the association is being proactive in investigating any and all means to generate income without having to unnecessarily raise common charges or impose assessments on its members.
Facts: A luxury recreational vehicle (RV) park association allowed the owners of lots in the park to rent them to non-owners. To regulate lot renting, the association's board of directors enacted three resolutions that imposed requirements for owners to meet before renting their lots, such as identification requirements and ensuring available liability insurance. The resolutions also imposed rental fees to be paid by owners and penalties for nonpayment of the fees.
Members at a Florida condominium community violated federal housing law by refusing to rent units to tenants with children, according to a lawsuit filed by Fair Housing Center of the Greater Palm Beaches.
The nonprofit group sued the association, the former president of the association, and a member. The member had placed an ad on craigslist offering her two-bedroom unit for rent. “Sorry no kids,” the ad read.
Facts: An Ohio condominium association adopted an amendment to its governing documents that reduced the number of rental units allowed in the community. A group of owners filed for a court declaration, alleging that the amendment was invalid because it affected the fundamental purpose of the owner's unit. They argued that according to the governing documents, 100 percent of the members had to approve it rather than the 75 percent who did, because the amendment affected a fundamental purpose of a condominium unit.