Condominiums are unique and must adopt rules, regulations and operating procedures that meet their individual needs and match their personalities. But condominium communities also confront similar problems and can benefit from solutions other communities have applied successfully. That is the idea behind our Condominium Resolution Library, a collection of association resolutions we have developed (with input from property managers, homeowners, and industry professionals) addressing evolving issues, concerns, emerging threats and new laws broadly affecting the condominium world. We offer these resolutions to clients and non-clients for a fee, much lower than the cost of drafting the documents from scratch. The library currently includes seven resolutions covering:
- Display of Flags
- Insurance Coverage
- Owners’ Maintenance Responsibilities
- Marijuana Amendment
- Satellite Installations
- Snow Removal/Treatment
This resolution targets the “derivative” lawsuits owners file against boards, accusing them of failing to execute their responsibilities. Two years ago, the Massachusetts Legislature adopted the Uniform Corporations Business Act to protect businesses from costly frivolous litigation. The statue includes a provision specifying that a derivative suit can be filed against a corporate board only if it is in the best interests of the corporation. This resolution applies that principle to the condominium association, specifying that a derivative suit can be brought against the board only if more than 50 percent of the condominium owners approve it. One insurance company, Travelers Bond, has decided to give any condominium it insures that adopts this resolution a 10 percent discount on its next directors’ and officers’ policy premium.
This resolution responds to the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005, which Congress enacted after a spate of widely publicized law suits challenging condominium association rules prohibiting owners from displaying flags. The law prohibits associations from barring the display of U.S. flags on exclusive use common areas, but it allows communities to adopt “reasonable restrictions” governing the time, place and manner of those displays. The resolution details restrictions that address the community’s reasonable concerns without interfering with the statutory rights of owners.
This Resolution is a response to the increasing popularity of the private use of unmanned aircraft systems (commonly called drones). The resolution sets limits and restrictions on residents’ use of drones on common area and protects the Condominium from the potential for liability caused by drones. This package includes the recordable Resolution but does not include out of pocket expenses.
Few questions are as confusing or as likely to trigger disputes between owners and condominium boards as those involving insurance claims. This resolution outlines the steps the board will take to reduce claims and control insurance premium costs and describes the standard operating procedures the board will follow to manage claims that arise. The resolution includes an owner’s release form for settled insurance claims and it clarifies the critical question of who is responsible for paying the association’s deductible.
The explosion of mold-related litigation and the refusal of most insurance companies to cover mold-related damages have heightened awareness of the need to avoid the water damage that can create mold. This resolution is designed to educate owners about this concern and to clarify their responsibility to maintain their units to minimize mold risks. The resolution specifies measures owners are required to take (e.g. regulating the moisture, humidity and temperature in their units, reporting or repairing leaks immediately, keeping the heat on during winter vacations) and attempts to shift liability for mold damage to owners who fail to meet their maintenance obligations.
This Amendment responds to the legalization of recreational marijuana, which became legal in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, after voters on Election Day approved Ballot Question 4 The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act. This law, which became effective on December 15, 2016, permits Massachusetts residents (including condominium unit owners) to: (1) smoke and consume marijuana in their units, (2) to grow between 6-12 marijuana plants at a time in their units, and (3) to open recreational marijuana retail stores, a/k/a “pot shops” subject to certain licensing and regulations. The Marijuana Amendment provides for the prohibition of smoking, growing and/or sale of marijuana at a condominium (some condominiums want to just ban growing and retail sales). The Marijuana Amendment must be accomplished by Master Deed Amendment, typically by unit owner consent or vote between (67 to 75%). This package includes the Amendment, together with proposed consent forms. This Amendment package does not include out of pocket expenses.
Like the Flag Resolution, this one responds to a federal law – the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 — which allows condominium owners to install satellite dishes and antennas on exclusive use common areas, but also allows associations to reasonably regulate the installations. The Federal Communications Commission regulations implementing the law specify that associations must enact a resolution outlining the restrictions they intend to impose in order to exercise this authority. In addition to detailing the installation restrictions and requirements, the resolution package includes a letter to owners, an instruction letter to the board, and a notification form to be distributed in connection with installations.
SNOW REMOVAL/TREATMENT RESOLUTION
This resolution is designed to help associations trim their snow removal and treatment budgets and reduce exposure to liability for snow and ice related claims at the same time. Many jurisdictions (including Massachusetts), have recently expanded the standard for determining liability in snow related injury cases and are simply more plaintiff friendly, making it much easier for an aggrieved party to allege their injuries were the result of an association’s negligence. When it comes to snow and ice removal, associations are being asked to do more, quicker, and without regard to the realistic budget constraints they face. Within the frame- work of individual condominium documents and applicable state condominium statutes, this resolution allocates responsibility for snow and ice removal between the association and individual unit owners, defines areas to be treated by each party, and communicates the level of snow and ice treatment, and the timing for such, which is right for individual communities.