Please join Husch Blackwell’s Condominium & HOA Law Team as we reveal the 10 commandments of what association management “Shalt Not” do while governing. Together, we’ll cover the basics of what homeowner associations (HOAs), condo boards and managers need to know. We’ll also dive into the nitty gritty of assessment collections.

Presenters
Lydia Chartre, Partner, CCAL
Dan Miske, Partner, CCAL
Ketajh Brown, Attorney
Sandra Chapman, Senior Paralegal
Billie Fatheree, Paralegal
Continue Reading Association Academy: The 10 Commandments of Association Management – September 25, 2020

Does your homeowners association have a written collection policy?  What duties does the property manager and/or Board have under the policy?  Learn what role the property manager and/or the Board of Directors should have in the assessment collection process.

Want to learn more about Wisconsin condominium and HOA law from experienced condo and HOA

First, I want to thank Julie Howard and her firm NowackHoward in Atlanta, Georgia for much of this Blog (adjusted for Wisconsin Law and my commentary).  She is the former president of the College of Community Association Lawyers (“CCAL”), an excellent association attorney, and has been kind enough to allow Husch Blackwell to use much of their article.

The law does NOT require a Board to extend additional time to owners to pay assessments just because of the COVID 19 pandemic.  While such policies may show a concern for members of a community, probably without realizing it, those policies may also have significant adverse effects on the Association, especially in 2020.

With this background, Associations should first look to see which of their expenses are variable (those that can be cut or reduced because of the pandemic).  Secondly, the Board must ask can the Association really afford to extend the payment of assessments for some or all of its owners?  Associations faced this same challenge during the last financial crisis.  In an editorial published on February 5, 2008 in The Atlanta Constitution, George Nowack (another former president of the CCAL) explained that because many Associations had allowed members to not pay and suspended collection actions, the balances on unpaid accounts reached levels that members gave up trying to pay.  The lesson learned from that past is that a Board is not doing any member a favor if it allows an Association’s accounts receivable to go unaddressed.  That advice is equally true today.
Continue Reading Assessment Collections and COVID-19

Yesterday, Governor Ever’s signed Emergency Order #15 which reiterated the public health emergency relating to COVID 19.  It’s title: “Temporary Ban on Evictions and Foreclosures” also implies that foreclosure actions can not be filed or advance.  That is not the case.  Here is what the Order states relative to Foreclosures:

“7. Mortgagees are prohibited from commencing a civil action to foreclose upon real estate.

8. Mortgagees are prohibited from requesting or scheduling a sheriff’s sale of the mortgaged premises.

9, Sheriffs may not conduct sheriff’s sales of mortgaged premises nor may sheriffs act on any order of foreclosure or execute any writ of assistance related to foreclosure.

10. Nothing in this Order shall be construed to affect the ability to commence a civil action to foreclose upon real estate under Section 846.102 [abandoned premises] of the Wisconsin Statutes.

11. No provision in this order should be construed as relieving an individual of their obligations to pay rent, make mortgage payments, or any other obligation an individual may have under a tenancy or mortgage.”

The Order expires on May 26, 2020.
Continue Reading Wisconsin Governor Ever’s Emergency Order and Foreclosures

The Board of Directors always has the power to make and amend Rules and Regulations on its own, without owner approval…right? Wrong.  The Board’s rule-making power and authority completely depends upon what authority is given by the Declaration and Bylaws, and as we know, all associations’ Declarations and Bylaws are different!  This is true in Wisconsin and in many other States.  Knowing what is in your governing documents will keep you out of troubling lawsuits.
Continue Reading Know What is in Your Documents—The Board Might Not Have the Authority You Think it Does…

Castilian Hills Homeowners Association v. Chaffins, (Wash. Ct. App. Oct. 22, 2018)

The Facts

Homeowner bought home in 2004. In 2016, the homeowner failed to pay his $147 assessment.  The homeowners association (“HOA”) assessed a $20 late fee. The homeowner still did not pay, despite the normal language in the HOA governing documents about interest, the right to lien and reasonable attorney fees. After more notices, the HOA filed a lien for $525.52 and then a complaint against the homeowner seeking the $525, plus interest and attorney fees.   The homeowner argued to the court that the HOA was “required by statute to provide notice and an opportunity to be heard” prior to filing a foreclosable lien.
Continue Reading How to Turn $147 into $10,000 – the WRONG Way

Some states have statutes that require that Associations provide a notice and opportunity to be heard to a resident before the Association can fine them for a violation of the governing documents. Even though Wisconsin does not have such a statute, providing residents a notice of the alleged violation and opportunity to give their side of the story is an important component of providing due process—which will help make your fines ultimately enforceable.
Continue Reading The Importance of Due Process—What is a “Notice and Opportunity to be Heard?”

IMPRESSION: A recent Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling served as a stiff reminder to investor-purchasers of condominium units: request of association resale disclosure certificates should be undertaken as a matter of course (in Wisconsin this is essentially the Section 703.165(4) Wis. Stat. statement of the amount of unpaid assessments).

DETAILS: In Bridge Investments, LLC v. Lowry Ridge Townhomes Assoc., LLP, A17-1221 (Minn. Ct. App. 2018) the owner of a condo unit in the Lowry Ridge Townhomes community defaulted on association payments owing over $3,500.00 in assessments.  After foreclosure proceedings, the condo was purchased by the owner’s bank at a sheriff’s sale.  Later, the defaulting owner reacquired the condo via redemption and on the same day sold the unit to Bridge Investments (“Bridge”)—a venture capital and private equity firm.  Bridge recorded its purchase with no knowledge of Lowry Ridge’s assessment lien; which was junior to the bank’s mortgage, but not eliminated by the redemption, and remained attached to the condo when sold. By this time, the outstanding balance reached over $9,000.00 prompting Lowry Ridge to record a lien for the unpaid balance, late fees, attorney’s fees, and costs.  Lowry Ridge attempted to amicably collect its debt rather than foreclose on the unit; however, Bridge felt it was not responsible for payment since it had no notice of the preexisting lien prior to purchasing the condo.
Continue Reading Request Resale Certificates Rather than Roll the Dice

The Condominium Statutes are written such that associations can collect their actual attorneys’ fees if they proceed in a lien enforcement action for unpaid assessments. But, as in many things law-related, there are traps for the unwary, and if your attorney is not savvy, you may miss out on collecting everything you are owed…

Facts.  In a 2017 case, a unit owner was delinquent in paying assessments and the Association hired an attorney to file a lawsuit against the owner seeking collection of the assessments.  The attorney filed suit, seeking a “breach of contract” cause of action against the owner, since he violated the portion of the condominium documents that says owners must timely pay assessments. The attorney was successful in getting a judgment in favor of the association for the unpaid assessments, but when he asked the court for an award of his attorneys’ fees, the Court’s answer was no.
Continue Reading Think You Will Get Your Attorneys’ Fees Paid in a Successful Collection Action? That May Depend on Your Attorney…