As many of you know, on July 30, 2020, Governor Evers of Wisconsin issued Executive Order #82 declaring a public health emergency to combat COVID-19, and Emergency Order #1 requiring individuals, with certain exceptions, to wear face coverings if:

  1. “The individual is indoors or in an enclosed space, other than at a private residence; and
  2. Another person or persons who are not members of individual’s household or living unit are present in the same room or enclosed space.”

Neither order defines “private residence” and the statutes are of very limited help on whether the common element and/or limited common element of a condominium association is part of a unit owners “private residence.”  The manner of condominium ownership does very little to clarify the issue, since the common elements are owned by the various unit owners.  Hence, each unit owner has a real property ownership interest in the common element. 
Continue Reading Must Wisconsin Condominium Residents Wear a Face Covering (Mask) in Indoor Common Element

Does your Association have rules that target children?  Does your Association have rules that apply differently to children and adult residents within the community?  The following case is a cautionary tale for Condominium Associations and HOAs—repeal those rules now, or potentially face a losing battle pursuant to federal law.

Facts

In a federal district court case from early 2020, a homeowner brought suit against his HOA alleging that the Association’s rules with respect to use of the tennis courts, the pool, and clubhouse were discriminatory.  The tennis court rules stated that adults had court privileges over children after 3:00 PM on weekdays and any time on weekends and holidays.  The pool rules stated that residents 14 through 18 years of age were limited to one pool guest per person, while adult residents were permitted to have up to 6 pool guests at a time.  The clubhouse rules stated that it was reserved for adult use only during summer months while the pool was open.  The homeowner claimed that these three rules discriminated against families with children (also known as “familial status”), which is prohibited by the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA).
Continue Reading Rules that Target Children Really Target Your Association (for Discrimination Lawsuits)

Harrison v. Casa de Emdeko, Incorporated, No. SCWC-15-0000744 (Haw. Apr. 26, 2018)

Holding

The Supreme Court of Hawaii held that, under the Hawaii Condominium Property Act, expenses for building components that served only particular units (residential units in this case) in a mixed-use project had to be allocated as limited common expenses to the units served, even though the declaration of the association did not assign the components as limited common elements.

The Facts

Harrison purchased two commercial condominium units out of a mixed use condominium project consisting of both residential and commercial units. The residential units were completely separate from the commercial units. Even though she only owned commercial units, Harrison was assessed expenses for elevators, lanai railings, and drains for the residential buildings. After Harrison brought suit for being improperly charged, alleging that the items were limited common elements, the association responded that Harrison never objected to the costs during her 30 years of ownership or her tenure on the association’s board of directors.
Continue Reading Commercial Units in Mixed-Use Condominium Not Responsible for Residential Unit Costs