A Court in Arizona recently provided one more reason for your association to have a fine schedule and late fee policy (Turtle Rock III Homeowners’ Association v. Fisher, 2017 WL4837821 and 2017 Ariz. App. LEXIS 187). This particular Homeowners’ Association (“HOA”) required their owners to maintain their property in various ways relative to cleanliness and attractiveness, via the HOA’s declaration. The declaration allowed the HOA to assess daily fines if the violations were not corrected. The HOA sent a particular owner 90 separate notices but started fining the owner less than 30 days from the relevant notice.
Continue Reading Does Your Association Need a Fine Schedule and Late Fee Policy? Yes!

In a recent case out of New York (Board of Mgrs. Of 325 Fifth Ave. Condominium v. Continental Residential Holdings LLC, 139 A.D.3rd 472 (2017)) a condominium board signed a broadly worded document, releasing the developer and multiple other developer-related entities and their “heirs, executors, administrators, successor and assigns” from claims associated with the construction and design of balconies and their related structures.  The Board then sued some of the developer-related entities and individual members of the entities under “alter ego” and “pierce the veil” theories.
Continue Reading Thinking of Signing a Release? Do Your Homework

This issue arises more than one might suspect. Because of association apathy, many committees go unfilled and often even boards don’t have members.  The results of this apathy could be much different than you would expect.

Facts.  In a 2017 case, the relevant property “was subject to a 1996 restrictive covenant that required the approval by an architectural control committee [‘ACC’] before any building … could be erected.”  The ACC consisted of two named persons within the documents, one of which was dead and the other refused to act.  The owner of the property filed a declaratory judgment action seeking to have the court declare the covenant unenforceable based on impossibility of performance.  Other property owners objected, claiming the covenant could be made enforceable by modification.  The documents did not provide a means by which new members could be added to the ACC.
Continue Reading What Happens When All Committee Members Resign, Refuse to Act or Move?

Facts. The documents required the consent of the first floor unit owner if the second floor unit owner wanted to erect a terrace above a first floor unit.  When the first floor unit owner refused to give consent, the Board waived the consent requirement and allowed the second floor unit owner to construct a terrace, after determining that it would have no impact on the value of the first floor unit.  The first floor unit owner sued to annul the board’s decision.
Continue Reading Who Says the Board Can’t Favor Resident Owners?

A Milwaukee association took possession of a unit through foreclosure, but could not rent out the unit because of its condition and could not sell it because of a large mortgage. After the property is vacant for several months and the lender did not start a foreclosure, The Husch Blackwell Condominium & HOA Law Team brought a quiet title action against the lender. The purpose of this is to either get the lender to take a deed for the property or have the court order the mortgage to be quieted (wiped out) on the title.
Continue Reading Quiet Title Actions

Condominium associations and homeowner associations are sued every day. These suits can arise based on construction claims, contract claims, negligence claims and various alleged statutory violations – We all know about the Fair House Act!  Or the Wisconsin (or whatever state you are in) Consumer Act!  Associations seem to attract people who feel that they are entitled to something because they now live in an association.  Of course they are entitled to what the law and documents allow them, but for some that never seems to be enough.  Often these types of owners or residents make up stuff or read the internet until they find some article or statement that supports their point of view and then cite it as fact. Yes, we have all dealt with those people. However, despite the validity (or lack of validity) of any lawsuit, there are some basic steps that every association should follow once served or notified of a suit.
Continue Reading Sued! What Should Our Wisconsin Condominium or Homeowners Association Do NOW?

An association in southeast Wisconsin consists of plots of land upon which the various unit owners can park a mobile home or trailer. Under the association documents, unit owners cannot be in the trailer more than 60 days between October and April or a $10,000 monthly fine will be assessed.  A unit owner owed more than $13,000 in fines in addition to unpaid monthly assessments.  When the unit owner continued to refuse to pay, the association started foreclosure on its lien. 
Continue Reading Collecting Large Fines

Water leaked through a bedroom ceiling in a downstairs condominium unit causing a small amount of damage and a significant amount of inconvenience for the owner. Approximately one year earlier, a similar event took place as a result of a frozen condensate line in the upstairs unit owner’s air conditioner, which caused water to back up and drip down through the floor into a common area between the floors and then through the ceiling of the lower unit, causing some of the ceiling drywall to fall. When part of the ceiling fell a second time, the association installed a drip pan that would automatically shut off the air conditioner if the pan filled. The total cost was less than $300. When the association sought to recover the $300 from the upstairs unit owner, he denied liability and claimed that the problem did not arise from his air conditioner, but from the duct work that ran between the floor of the upper unit and the ceiling of the lower unit, and that responsibility for the problem fell on the association.
Continue Reading Association Successfully Recovers From Unit Owner Who Refused to Fix Leaking Air Conditioner

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

A condominium association in Milwaukee has historically faced heavy delinquency issues. Through The Husch Blackwell Condominium & HOA Law Team’s assertive collection methods, the firm collected more than $290,000 in assessments, interest and legal fees for the association since 2013. A substantial portion of the $290,000 resulted from the sale and/or rental of 10 units that became owned by the association.
Continue Reading When an Association Owns a Unit – Recouping Delinquent Assessments Through Unit Rental/Sales