In Welsh v. McNeil, 162 A.3d 135 (2017) a board member and unit owner (“Board Member”) sued another unit owner (“Landlord Unit Owner”) for violation of the Association documents claiming that the Landlord Unit Owner violated the leasing provisions by allowing someone (the “Tenant”) to occupy the premises who was not on the lease. The lease was only to an unincorporated entity, and did not name who would be occupying the premises. Before suit was filed the Landlord Unit Owner and Tenant asked the Board to waive the bylaw provision as a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Administration (“FHA”) to afford recovering alcoholics an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a single family dwelling of their choice. Continue Reading Can Your Association End a Unit Owner’s Suit by Post-Suit Filing Actions?
In a 2017 New York case, a dispute arose over what authority the Association had to perform landscaping maintenance on an individual homeowner’s lot (Minkin v. Board of Directors of Cortlandt Ridge Homeowners’ Association, Inc., 149 A. D.3d 723 (2017)). When the owner refused to pay the assessment for the landscaping services, the Board started assessing fines. The owner sued the Board. The New York Supreme Court (the lowest level court in New York) decided that the Board did have the authority to perform the landscaping services on the front lawn and the homeowner was required pay the assessment as well as the fines. Unfortunately for the Association, there was also a larger issue dealing with the work performed and assessed on the side and rear of the house. The problem was that the Board and managing agent could not provide backup or evidence for exactly what work was done in each area, and accordingly, the assessments and fines were not upheld in those areas. Continue Reading Know Your Governing Documents
A recent New York Court dealt with an issue on leasing (Olszewski v. Cannon Point Association, Inc., 148 A.D.3d 1306 (2017)). The Board adopted rules and regulations that placed restrictions on leasing that contradicted relevant portions of the Association’s Bylaws. The Association then fined the owner for violating these restrictions and the owner sued. The owner won at the circuit court level and the Association appealed. On appeal, the Court again ruled in favor of the owner, upholding the trial court’s decision. Why? Continue Reading Can the Association’s Documents be Contradictory and Still Enforceable?
A Court in Colorado recently dealt with a developer who placed a provision in the declaration of a condominium association prohibiting amendment of the declaration – ever – without the declarant’s written consent, and requiring that all construction defect claims be resolved through arbitration (Vallagio at Inverness Residential Condominium Association, Inc. v. Metropolitan Homes, Inc. (395 P.3d 788)). Continue Reading Developers Sometimes Draft Documents for Their Own Benefit
A Court in Louisiana recently tackled the issue of short-term rentals (New Jax Condominium Association, Inc. v. Vanderbilt New Orleans, LLC, 219 So.3d 471). A Condominium Association adopted an amendment to its bylaws during its annual meeting prohibiting short term rentals. When a Unit Owner continued to engage in short-term rentals, the Association sued and received a permanent injunction, preventing the Unit Owner from continuing to engage in short-term rentals. The Unit Owner appealed, alleging that the amendment to the bylaws was invalid because certain board members had conflicts of interest, and because one board member changed his vote during the voting. Continue Reading Banning Short-Term Rentals
A Maryland Court recently ruled on the extent of powers a Condominium Board had in dealing with a unit owner who was delinquent in assessments (Elvation Towne Condominium Regime II, Inc. v. Rose, 162 A.3d 1027). The Association at issue adopted a policy by which delinquent unit owners would be deprived of their right to enjoy certain common elements – namely the pool and parking of the Association. When they suspended those rights for the delinquent unit owner, the unit owner filed suit alleging the policy was unlawful, since the Association’s declaration did not provide for the Board to withhold common element use rights. Continue Reading Delinquent Owners – Withholding Access to Common Elements
In a recent case out of North Carolina, Rash v. Waterway Landing Homeowners Association, Inc. 801 S.E.2d 375 (2017), a unit owner in a condominium complex sued the Association for negligence after she slipped and fell on a moldy wooden walkway in the complex after a night of rain. The unit owner stated that she had no knowledge that it had rained or of the slippery condition of the walkway when it was wet. She also admitted that she did not look down at the walkway as she was walking. As the unit owner admitted that she did not look down at the walkway, the trial court found she did not exercise reasonable/ordinary care or a “common sense duty” and was contributory negligent, granting summary judgment in favor of the Association.
The appellate court reversed, ruling that there was a “genuine issue of material fact as to whether the [unit owner] exercised ordinary care to protect herself from injury.” Continue Reading Negligence and the Association
A Court in Arizona recently provided one more reason for your association to have a fine schedule and late fee policy (Turtle Rock III Homeowners’ Association v. Fisher, 2017 WL4837821 and 2017 Ariz. App. LEXIS 187). This particular Homeowners’ Association (“HOA”) required their owners to maintain their property in various ways relative to cleanliness and attractiveness, via the HOA’s declaration. The declaration allowed the HOA to assess daily fines if the violations were not corrected. The HOA sent a particular owner 90 separate notices but started fining the owner less than 30 days from the relevant notice. Continue Reading Does Your Association Need a Fine Schedule and Late Fee Policy? Yes!
A Court in Louisiana recently took up the issue of what to award in interest, late fees, attorneys’ fees and costs when a Unit Owner paid the underlying assessments, but refused to pay anything more. (English Turn Property Owners Association v. Contogouris, 228 So.3d 793 (2017)). In this case, a Unit Owner and its Homeowners’ Association (“HOA”) were embroiled in litigation concerning four years of unpaid assessments, along with interest, late fees, attorneys’ fees and costs, the latter being authorized by the Association’s governing documents. The parties agreed to a payoff concerning the regular assessments, and that a trial would decide what other amounts were owed as a result of the Unit Owner’s failure to regularly and timely pay assessments. Continue Reading Delinquent Owner Pays Assessments, But Refuses to Pay Interest, Late Fees or Attorney Fees. NOW WHAT?
In Illinois, a Court recently ruled on a Condominium Association’s attempt to charge back an insurance deductible to one of its members (Gelinas v. Barry Quadrangle Condominium Association, 74 N.E.3d 49 (2017)). This particular association had a fire originate in an owner’s unit resulting in damage to not only the specific unit, but the entire building. The Association made a claim with its insurance company and received reimbursement for the necessary repairs to be made. The Association then held a hearing and levied an assessment against the Unit Owner in whose unit the fire originated. Continue Reading Special Assessing an Insurance Deductible Back to a Unit Owner