Year: 2005

December 22, 2005

Although the governing documents of most community associations include nuisance provisions, an increasing number of attorneys are concluding that these provisions themselves may represent a nuisance for the boards responsible for enforcing them. One problem, although not the only one, is simply defining the term. Most documents use language similar to this: “No owners shall engage in noxious or offensive activities, or do anything which may become an annoyance or a nuisance, or in any [Read More...]

November 22, 2005

A homeowner association is really a small business, and like any business, it generates volumes of documents. Invoices, bank statements, minutes of board meetings, contracts, communications with owners and vendors, committee reports — the list is endless and the document management task can be onerous. All of the varied documents associations produce are not equally important, of course, but for trustees wrestling with mounds of paper, the distinctions between what is essential and what is [Read More...]

September 22, 2005

Special assessment. The mere mention of the term infuriates condominium owners and terrifies condominium trustees, who duck and cover instinctively whenever the topic comes up. In an ideal world, special assessments – levied to finance major and unanticipated expenditures – would never be required, because community associations would always have the funds they needed, either in their operating budgets or their reserves, to cover the costs. But the world, as you have no doubt noted, [Read More...]

August 22, 2005

“This land was your land, but now it’s my land….” That cynical rewrite of the popular folk song overstates the case, but it accurately reflects the angry reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Kelo v. New London, Connecticut, affirming the right of a local government to take private property to further an economic development plan. The public outcry notwithstanding, the decision was really a logical extension of existing judicial precedent, highlighting rather [Read More...]

July 22, 2005

The formal ceremony lasted only a few minutes, but it took credit card companies, banks, and large retailers eight years to win Congressional approval of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act President Bush signed into law April 20. “This law will protect those who legitimately need help, stop those who try to commit fraud, and bring greater stability and fairness to the system,” President Bush said of the new law, which mandates the [Read More...]

April 28, 2005

Tenants often withhold their rent as a means of pressuring their landlords to make essential repairs. Following similar, if not identical logic, condominium owners sometimes withhold payment of their common area charges, because they think the fees are too high, inappropriate or unjustified, or because they just don’t like the way the association is being run. But there is a crucial difference between the actions of tenants, who rent their units and the residents of [Read More...]

April 22, 2005

Litigation having become something of a national pastime, the odds of being sued are now, if not quite as high as the likelihood of catching a cold, close enough to make risk reduction a major concern in the community association industry, as it is in virtually every other business sector. It is not surprising then, that community association managers and management companies almost always insist on including indemnification clauses in their contracts. Because my firm [Read More...]

February 22, 2005

Insurance companies hate mold and they aren’t terribly fond of water, either. This will hardly qualify as news to any community association that has purchased an insurance policy recently or tried to renew existing coverage after having filed a claim for mold or water damage. A mold or water claim on your insurance record is the equivalent of a scarlet letter, virtually guaranteeing that your insurer will increase your premium costs and possibly refuse to [Read More...]

January 22, 2005

Eminent domain – the governmental authority to take private property for public purposes – and the right of property owners to be compensated for those “takings,” are well-established legal principles, grounded firmly in Constitutional law and reflected in the policies and practices of state and local governments. These legal concepts are not new, nor is the dynamic tension that has long existed between them. But it appears that attitudes about how and where to strike [Read More...]