Year: 2007

December 20, 2007

 Majority rules. That is the simple but essential concept on which a democracy rests, and it works reasonably well most of the time in common interest communities, where volunteer board members set policies and make rules for their self-governing communities. But some board members don’t understand, or are unwilling to accept, that in order for the majority to rule, the minority must support decisions with which it disagrees. When these board members find themselves on [Read More...]

October 22, 2007

Behavioral scientists differ on whether it is the first three minutes, the first three months, or the first three years that are most important in the development of a child. But they agree that what happens or doesn’t happen during the formative years, however defined, plays a huge role in determining a child’s future well-being and success. A common interest ownership community also goes through a formative period comparable to a child’s early years. And [Read More...]

September 22, 2007

Are homeowner associations governmental or quasi-governmental entities? Until last year, most attorneys who practice community association law would have said the answer was clearly, and appropriately, no. But a New Jersey appeals court called that long-standing assumption into question when it decided that a community association, in fact, plays the role of a municipal government, and its rules and regulations must, therefore, pass constitutional muster. That decision, in Committee for a Better Twin Rivers v. [Read More...]

August 22, 2007

The housing market is still struggling, keeping home sales and new home construction activity in the cellar. But the development of housing for mature (don’t call them old) adults is booming. The National Association of Home Builders predicts that at least 15 percent of this year’s housing starts will be in communities designed for residents who are 55 or older. Although only about 10 percent of older Americans currently live in age-restricted communities, surveys indicate [Read More...]

July 22, 2007

We are often warned that “the devil is in the details”—an admonition to read carefully and understand fully the terms of any agreement before signing it. That is good advice, to be sure. But community associations are as likely to be harmed by their failure to include essential details in the contracts they negotiate as by their failure to heed the details proposed by others.  We know now that it is, in fact, possible (and [Read More...]

May 22, 2007

Judging by the press reports, construction defect litigation seems to have become something of a growth industry. A recent media scan turned up, in fairly short order, a $3 million judgment awarded to a Vermont community association and a $12 million settlement negotiated by a Colorado community to resolve their claims of serious construction flaws, along with a reference to the largest construction defect award to date – a $35 million judgment in favor of [Read More...]

May 22, 2007

Meetings of community association boards are rarely enjoyable; given the option, most people would usually rather be doing something else. But the board meeting I attended recently was particularly unpleasant. The room was crowded, the atmosphere was tense, and the owners, who were shouting, listening, or both, clearly weren’t happy. Neither were the board members, who were targets both of the owners’ anger and of a petition to remove the trustees from office. As recently [Read More...]

April 22, 2007

Anti-smoking activists and some community association attorneys have been predicting that it was only a matter of time before the courts would allow communities to bar smoking entirely – not just in common areas, but inside individual homes. A Colorado District Court recently did just that. The court upheld a by-law amendment enacted by the Heritage Hills Condominium Owners Association prohibiting smoking anywhere within the boundaries of the four-unit community. Owners of two of the [Read More...]

March 22, 2007

Spurred by headlines about hard-hearted, heavy-handed homeowner associations foreclosing on “helpless” homeowners to collect often miniscule unpaid assessments, lawmakers in several states have enacted measures limiting the authority of associations to use foreclosure, or the threat of it, to encourage delinquent owners to pay their fees and to recover unpaid assessments from those who refuse. The negative headlines often obscure two essential points: Homeowners living in common interest ownership communities have an absolute obligation to [Read More...]

January 22, 2007

Every profession has its war stories. For community associations, these stories increasingly involve owners who, because of age, emotional problems, or both, pose a threat to themselves and to others in the community. Like the woman with Alzheimer’s, who wandered regularly from her complex when her son, with whom she lived, was traveling on business. Or the elderly owner whose toilet overflowed, creating a mess in his unit and a stench unbearable to everyone else [Read More...]