Year: 2008

December 20, 2008

By Stephen Marcus Inertia and disinterest are common problems in common interest ownership communities, which are often hard-pressed to find owners willing to serve on boards, volunteer for committee assignments, or even vote in association elections. So it is interesting and somewhat  surprising to find that some homeowner associations are facing pressure to become more involved in local, state, and even national political affairs. That pressure comes in the form of requests from owners and [Read More...]

November 20, 2008

When Indy-Mac, the California bank giant, failed in July, an estimated $600 million of its $19 billion in deposits were not insured. Based on historical patterns, the consumers, businesses (and homeowner associations, if any) holding those uninsured deposits could expect to recover about 72 cents of every dollar. Think about that. Would you want to be a member of an HOA board that had to inform owners that the association’s reserves or operating funds had [Read More...]

October 22, 2008

It is not hard to understand why military veterans who have seen action in war are likely to be among the strongest advocates of diplomacy. For similar reasons, also easy to understand, the Community Associations Institute (CAI), which has seen decades of litigation involving homeowner associations and owners, encourages the use of alternative dispute resolution “whenever possible and wherever appropriate.” The advantages of avoiding litigation are obvious, even to litigators. Non-judicial solutions can be achieved [Read More...]

September 20, 2008

The English politician, Tony Benn, described war as “a failure of diplomacy.” The same might be said of legal battles between condominium owners and community association boards; a bit more diplomacy and a lot more common sense on both sides could probably avoid most of these encounters and community associations would be better off as a result. A recent decision by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, resolving a dispute over the placement of religious [Read More...]

August 20, 2008

Condominium insurance coverage questions are notoriously complicated and often confusing for industry professionals as well as condominium owners and their governing boards. But for owners and insurers in Maryland, this admittedly confusing issue has become bewildering and more than a little unsettling following a state appeals court ruling that homeowner associations are not required to cover casualty losses for individual units under the association’s master policy. As the headline in one newspaper report noted, the [Read More...]

July 20, 2008

True or False: 1) Owner-occupants have more invested in the property and will be more concerned about maintaining it. 2) A large concentration of tenants in a common interest ownership community can threaten the value not only of the units they occupy but of the community as a whole. You won’t find many owners or professionals in the common interest ownership world who would challenge either assertion. The assumption that owner-occupants are preferable to tenants [Read More...]

June 20, 2008

An already difficult condominium market is likely to become more challenging for buyers, sellers, and especially for lenders as a result of new underwriting guidelines adopted recently by Fannie Mae and mirrored, in key respects, by Freddie Mac. The revised rules respond to the mounting loan delinquencies and defaults that have bruised the bottom lines of Fannie, Freddie, and just about everyone else involved in financing residential mortgages. But the new policies also reflect concerns [Read More...]

April 20, 2008

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Justice have issued new joint guidance explaining the obligations of rental property owners and homeowner associations to allow the “reasonable modification” of individual residences and common areas when those modifications are requested by disabled residents. These obligations stem from the Fair Housing Act, which forbids discrimination in the sale or rental of housing and specifies that disabled individuals are entitled to the reasonable [Read More...]

March 20, 2008

Foreclosures are setting new records nationally and locally, and common interest ownership communities are feeling the impact. As foreclosures and mortgage delinquency rates have increased, so have association accounts payable as more owners fall behind in the payment of their common area fees. There was a time when a foreclosure wave like the one we are witnessing today (2 percent of all mortgages were in foreclosure in the fourth quarter of last year) would have [Read More...]

January 20, 2008

Community associations will no longer be able to play favorites, at least when it comes to the selection of companies providing cable services. In a decision that has infuriated cable companies and unsettled common interest ownership communities , the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has decided to prohibit contracts giving large cable companies the exclusive right to provide services to multi-unit properties. The order, published in November and approved unanimously by the five-member commission, applies to [Read More...]