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

Associations often struggle to get sufficient members to fill their Board. The common perception is that it is too much work.  It’s not, but there is work involved.  However, if you are organized and willing to share some of your time, you will quickly learn that many of the issues repeat themselves.  If your association has a manager, then your real job is to manage the manager.  If you don’t have a property manager, then the owners define your job as EVERYTHING.  We have put together this list of the issues that commonly arise so that you can see that you won’t be bored:  assessments, banks, contractors, dogs, electricity, fires and feelings, gas, heat, ice, jokesters, kites, leaves, mail, nails, pools, quality issues, roofs, streets, trouble, upset people, voting, water, extra stuff left by the garbage, your neighbor, zoo animals allowed by the FHA as emotion support animals – so essentially the entire alphabet.  Continue Reading Bored – Then Run for the Board

You might think that when a tenant breaks a rule, that you can simply fine him like you would fine an owner-occupant. Or, you might think that you can just notify and fine the owner/landlord for his tenant’s violation, since he’ll ultimately be responsible for the fine anyway, right? These assumptions are intuitive; however, anyone who has been around condominiums and HOAs long enough can tell you that the laws governing them are not always intuitive. In fact, sometimes it seems like the legislators threw common sense right out the window! Continue Reading Fining for Tenant Violations? You Might be Doing it Wrong.

It has been said that insurance is the only product that both the seller and buyer hope is never used. That certainly rings true when it comes to community Associations’ insurance policies, but it does not diminish the need for Associations to protect themselves and their unit owners from an ever-widening array of damages they could suffer. Wis. Stat. § 703.17 requires Condominium Associations to obtain insurance against potential hazards, but only discusses scope by saying that the Association must acquire insurance “for not less than full replacement value of the property insured against.” Continue Reading It’s Never Too Late to Ensure Your Association is Properly Insured

Governing Documents for Condominium and Homeowner Associations don’t age well. They are not like a fine wine.  They are more like cheap cheese.  Remember, they were likely written by a developer who really only cared about them until it had sold all of its units or lots (assume 10 years or less).  So if your documents were written before 2008, it is unlikely that they have anything in them to deal with:

  1. Emotional Support Animals;
  2. Drones;
  3. Short Term Rentals (AirBnB was founded in 2008 in San Francisco);
  4. Medical Marijuana; or
  5. Unit or Lot Owners buying insurance to cover a large insurance deductibles that could be assessed against them if their actions cause an insured loss.

Continue Reading Our Governing Documents Have Aged Nicely