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?”
A defense owners can raise if the Board claims the owner has violated the rules is “selective enforcement,” meaning the Board arbitrarily picks on some violators and not others. In addition, owners oftentimes like to rely on approval given by one board member, taking that as “Board approval” of the owner’s actions. The case below tackles both of these issues, in the context of a dispute over an owner’s installation of hard-surface flooring.
Facts. In a 2017 case, an owner who lived in an upper-level condominium unit replaced her carpeting with laminated flooring. The problem is, the Association’s Declaration prohibited the installation of any flooring other than carpet, without prior Board approval. The owner had not received approval from the Board prior to installation of the flooring, but she did allegedly have an email exchange with the Board president wherein he said it would be ok. Continue Reading Hard-Surface Flooring in Upper Units—A Lesson in Selective Enforcement and Officer’s Authority
Noise coming from adjacent units is a common problem. It can be caused by many things, including music, instruments, appliances, running, jumping, or a myriad of other causes. Our advice has almost always been that if you have a rule, you need to enforce it uniformly against all. However, with noise, it is often difficult to determine what is too loud and what is simply an over-sensitive neighbor. To combat some of the noise issues, many associations require second floor and above units to have carpeted floors. For those who want hardwood or tile, it is sometimes permitted provided the plans are pre-approved by the board. These plans then often require soundproofing to be placed between the two floors. Continue Reading Is Your Upstairs Neighbor Noisy? – Floor Covering Restrictions
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
If your condominium association documents include restrictions on occupancy (how many people can reside in a unit), be aware of what the federal law states on the issue to avoid potentially costly lawsuits brought by disgruntled unit owners.
While it is legal for a condominium association to adopt and enforce occupancy policies, those rules (and enforcement of the rules) must be reasonable and in compliance with state laws and local ordinances. If they are not, the rules run the risk of being found discriminatory based on familial status under the federal Fair Housing Act. The act prohibits discrimination on the basis of (among other things) familial status, which means the presence of children in the family. Continue Reading Enforcing Occupancy Requirements in Your Condominium