Under the law in most states, and certainly in Wisconsin, the Board of your condominium association controls any changes to the exterior appearance.  This is generally based on a statute that can’t be changed even by the governing documents.  However, things are changing.  Across the country many laws are being passed that require the Board of Directors of various condominium associations to approve certain changes to the exterior.  This can range from artificial turf to solar panels.  In addition, the world is changing relative to emotional support animals, sexual harassment and security.  Continue Reading 2018 Condo & HOA Issues

There are some new HUD (Housing and Urban Development) Rules that went into effect October 2016 which may have a significant impact on Condominium and Homeowners Associations, and although we very much dislike these new Rules for the reasons set forth below, it is important for Associations to be aware of these new liability traps.

The new HUD Rules state that there are two types of harassment (Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Environment) that are now recognized and identified by the FHA (Fair Housing Act). Continue Reading You Can’t Simply Look the Other Way—New HUD/FHA Rules that Affect Your Associations

Husch Blackwell’s Condominium & HOA Law and Construction & Design teams defended a condominium association in a mold and water intrusion jury trial in Milwaukee County.  The plaintiffs consisted of a family of four who alleged that they had to move out of their condominium unit because of significant health injuries caused by the water and mold to the father and one of the children.  The plaintiffs’ complaint asserted claims of negligence and breach of contract.   Continue Reading HB Aids Association in Successful Defense of Mold & Water Intrusion Suit

At the start of 2012, a condominium association in Waukesha, Wisconsin faced serious collection issues as a result of mismanaged files and accounts by its former property manager and attorney. More than 35 individual unit owners (40% of the owners) were delinquent and the association was owed more than $50,000 in delinquent assessments. Continue Reading Aggressive Collections – A Method that Works

Those of us involved in condominium management, whether as board members, officers, property managers or attorneys, know that VRBO and AirBnB have changed the way units are rented. Short term rentals are viewed by many associations as a problem that should be solved.  Specifically, these associations and managers would prefer that short rentals (most often defined as less than six months or one year, but I have seen it defined as less than 30 days) be prohibited.  The problem is getting enough people to agree on the various issues: Continue Reading Can I Use the Prohibition on “Commercial Activity” to Preclude Short Term Rentals?

A condominium association in the Milwaukee area was owed more than $2,000 in fines by one unit owner. For more than a year, the unit owner had been fined numerous times due to the same violations of the bylaws which the unit owner refused to correct.  While the unit owner paid assessments monthly, the unit owner ignored the fines and the association’s attempts to demand that the unit owner correct the violations. Continue Reading Unit Owner Bad Behavior – When Fines are Ignored

A condominium association had an owner that was uncooperative, didn’t like following rules and paid assessments on her own timeframe for more than 10 years. In the spring of 2009, another law firm started collection against the unit owner for unpaid assessments by filing a lien on the property.  During the next year and a half, the lien was foreclosed and judgment entered.  In November 2011, the property went to sheriff’s sale. At the sheriff’s sale the attorney for the association opened the bidding at $1 and the property was purchased by a third party for $2.  When the third party spoke with the unit owner, he felt sorry for her and sold the property back to her. Although the association’s attorney sought and was granted a deficiency judgment, the judgment was not collectible because the unit owner was retired and had no assets.  As a result, the association’s debt had increased to more than $22,000, which the association lost due to the purchase of the unit by the third party for $2.  Continue Reading Why Hire an Attorney Who Specializes in Condominium & HOA Law

Yes! Thankfully, if the association has not been doing so, there is a way to reduce your back-tax liability, interest and penalties.

  • Do you have parking that is rented out by the Association?
  • Do you charge different monthly assessments for those with a parking spot?
  • Do you charge a fee for a boat dock or storage of a boat, canoe or similar water craft?

Of course you do. No worries, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, like most states, would be happy to perform an audit for you.  Unfortunately, they will then also seek to collect all of the taxes due.  Continue Reading Parking Spaces – Should Your Association be Charging and Collecting Sales Tax?

This is an all too common phrase uttered by members of associations. It is most uttered when the Board is enforcing its condominium documents, including its rules.  The chant increases in volume when the violating owner is able to find some other violation of some other rule that they believe the Board is not enforcing.  Frequently it has this ring to it: “this is discrimination.”  For many reasons that argument fails to hold water.  However, courts do listen to owners who can show that an association is only enforcing or selectively enforcing its rules.  Continue Reading You Can’t Do That

From years of experience, unit owners and board members can justify anything. Board members who take compensation for serving on the board or who make sure that their building is always first in line for repairs can find relatively legitimate reasons for everything they do – e.g. they are saving the association money by doing the job that a property manager would do but for only ½ of the pay.  Of course, these same board member who complain about all of the work they do on the board also fight like hell when someone runs against them.  If your association has such a board member, and you don’t believe that you can have them removed before the election, then they must be defeated at the annual meeting.  It will be a battle, so prepare: have the short sentences that explain why you are running (the theme of your election), say what you will do, not what the current volunteers are doing wrong, and go get proxies and enlist others to help you get proxies from everyone.  Continue Reading Elections from Hell