Many condominium and homeowners associations (HOAs) have an architectural control committee (ACC).  Oftentimes, the Board of Directors assumes the role of the ACC rather than having a separate committee.  Where the governing documents give the Board/ACC discretion over proposed architectural/exterior changes within the association, what are the limits to that discretionary power?

Facts

In a recent court of appeals case from the fall of 2021, intervening homeowners who were neighbors to a home subject to years-long litigation with the HOA appealed a trial court’s dismissal of their attempt to intervene.  These homeowners were disgruntled because they did not like the settlement that was ultimately reached between their neighboring homeowners and the HOA.
Continue Reading Architectural Control and your Community Association—Limits on the Discretion of the Board

Thank you to all who attended the Husch Blackwell Condominium & HOA Law Team virtual Association Academy on March 25, 2022.  We covered what’s new with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), collections and the new mortgage underwriting requirements..  No need to worry if you missed it, we recorded it for you, and you

Facts

The Spagenskis (“the Homeowners”) lived in a community in San Diego County with their German shepherd Kato.  The community was governed by Sunset Greens Homeowners Association (the “Association”) in accordance with a declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions (“CC&R’s”). From February 2019 to May 2019, Kato attacked three dogs in the community.  In the first incident, Kato injured a resident and her dog, and after the incident, Kato was placed in home quarantine by the Humane Society.  The Association ordered the Spagenskis to comply with the CC&R’s to ensure that Kato would be kept under control.  Three months later, Kato attacked two other dogs and other residents in the community.  One of the injured dogs died while undergoing surgery.  The Humane Society, once again, placed Kato in-home quarantine for another 10 days.  Following the second incident, the Association directed the Spagenskis to remove Kato from the community and filed suit, seeking injunctive relief for breaching the CC&R’s and nuisance clause.
Continue Reading Association’s Vested Discretion in Declaring an Aggressive Dog a Nuisance

Facts

Association Board adopted a resolution that unit owners in the Association who self-rented but did not join the rental pool would need to pay 20% of their rental income to the Association because the self-renters “did not contribute financially for the extra expense of their leasing activity or for the beneficial services provided by the rental pool.”  The resolution also 1) disallowed future self-rentals; and 2) grandfathered in the current self-renters.

The Suit

Claims

The Association sued the self-renters seeking a declaration that its resolution disallowing future self-rentals and imposing a rental fee was enforceable.  The self-renters counterclaimed alleging: a) breach of contract; b) injunctive relief; c) that the resolution was arbitrary and unenforceable; and d) that the Association was improperly allocating certain fees on the self-renters.
Continue Reading Fees for Self-Renters Who Don’t Enter the Rental Pool are Legal

The Garrett’s purchased their property in the HOA in 2001.  The CCR’s required an owner to obtain the approval of the architectural control committee (“ACC”) before doing any construction on the property.  The Garrett’s submitted plans to build a pool in their backyard, but the original plans were rejected by the ACC because the plans “were too vague and because professional plans are required for such a large project.”  The Garrett’s then resubmitted professional plans for the pool only which the ACC approved.  When the Garret’s built the pool, the pool equipment was on the common element and they built far more than just a pool.  The Board sent the Garrett’s a cease-and-desist letter, and after an executive session advised the Garrett’s to move the pool equipment within their property and return the common element to its original condition (they had lowered the height of a fence).  Although Mr. [Brett] Garrett attempted to engage a board member in a conversation, the board member advised that “he would not meet with the Garretts … [and that he] would discuss the matter only in the company of the board at a proper meeting.”  In reality, the Garret’s project “had blossomed into a complete backyard renovation with retaining walls, stairs, a drainage system, patio pavers, and planter beds,” none of which were part of the approved plan.
Continue Reading Building in HOA Common Area – MUCH More Costly Than Owner Thought (Because of Association Attorney Fees)

Please join Husch Blackwell’s Condominium & HOA Law Team on September 17, 2021 as we outline some frequently encountered legal challenges and issues that can prove time-consuming and costly when mishandled.

Topics

  • Condominium legal document review
  • Collections from a debtor’s perspective
  • Handling disruptive unit owners and residents
  • Arbitration
  • Hoarders and foreclosures
  • Rentals and smoking
  • Construction issues]


Continue Reading Association Academy: If it Weren’t for the People, Association Living Would be Perfect

Many of you may have seen the June 7, 2021, Milwaukee Sentinel story about a Milwaukee area home that was flying two flags: one the US flag and the second a Pride flag.  According to the story, the owners were told to take down the Pride flag because the association only allowed the US flag.  The residents, one of whom was a board member, “decided to adhere to the rules and take the flag down” but then installed “a bright display of rainbow-colored Pride lights to highlight the house.”  The story tells us that the residents had no intent to become adversarial, that they “don’t feel targeted or attacked in [their] community” but rather to illustrate with humor ways to get around rules.
Continue Reading Seeing Injustice is Easy – Solving Problems is HARD

Does your condominium or homeowners association (HOA) have owners who don’t pay their assessments?  Owners are finding more excuses to avoid paying their assessments.  Filing multiple bankruptcies, submitting payments with conditional language, NSF payments, claiming they don’t owe since they don’t use the common elements. . .  The list goes on and on.

So how does your association handle these “Sophisticated Debtors”?  Does your Association have a strong written collection policy?  Are your governing documents updated and in compliance with current law?  If not, your association will spend more than you should be in trying to collect unpaid assessments.

To ease the pain and headache of collecting unpaid assessments, make sure your association has:
Continue Reading Dealing with Sophisticated Debtors

When faced with a request by a homeowner or condominium owner to install solar panels at your association, your Board needs to determine a number of things:

  1. Whether there are restrictive covenants or rules that prevent the installation;
  2. What “solar access rights” if any exist under their state’s laws;
  3. What if any restrictions the Association wants and can place on the installation, maintenance, repair, replacement and removal of the solar panels;
  4. Who is paying for any of the maintenance, repairs or removal of the solar panels.


Continue Reading Solar Panels – What Your Association Should Do When Someone Requests to Install Them

Let’s face it, 2020 was rough and not everyone was nice about it.  Hate crimes have increased dramatically over the last six years.  Heightened political tensions have led to family quarrels and neighbor-to-neighbor feuds.  And to top it all off, the COVID pandemic and corresponding lockdowns has made most of us a little stir crazy.

Where does this leave community associations?  Associations have a duty to protect residents from a hostile environment and can be held responsible for the actions of its board members, employees, and residents.  (To learn more on hostile environment and Association liability, click HERE.)

So what’s a community association to do?  GET EDUCATED AND TAKE ACTION!
Continue Reading Education, Education, Education – Overcoming Harassment, Racism and Hostility in Community Associations