One constant in condominium and homeowner association law is the issue of vendors and contractors. At the very least, associations are responsible for the upkeep, maintenance, and repair of the common elements. Often times, there may be pools, patios, and clubhouses that associations must manage as well. This means that there will be vendors, contractors, and suppliers. Most of the time, the relationship runs smoothly; but, every once in a while, there’s a hiccup. Sometimes, it’s more an explosion than a hiccup. In any case, how boards and property managers handle disputes with vendors can either spell long-term pain for the association or it can mean a relatively simple affair.
Many of our clients have asked our office about insurance responsibilities of the Association and individual owners. When a casualty occurs, the first step taken may be to check whether such act is covered. It is important to understand the requirements of your Association to make sure that the property is properly insured before a casualty occurs.
Question: Our governing documents require that owners use gas grills, temporary pools, and patio sets in their backyards and that they not use them in their driveways. For years, there has been one owner that continually sets up shop in their driveway at the beginning of each summer, complete with a patio set, a grill and a blow-up pool.
Never on their back patio, because they like to congregate with the other neighbors! Not only is it unsightly for them to have an outdoor kitchen in the middle of their driveway, but it also violates the rules.
Last year, we started fining them for each week that the grill and patio set were out in violation of the documents. Not a lot, but $25 per week. It still didn’t deter them, and they now have a balance on their account. We have pictures to document each week it was out.
As the Board, were we within our rights to fine them? Can we increase the fines?
Full, printable version of our January-February 2017 Newsletter!
Question: More often, owners in our Association are being told by financial planners or their attorneys to “walk away” from their properties because they owe more on the mortgage than the property is worth. Does this mean that they have to continue to pay maintenance fees if their house is foreclosed upon after they walk away?
Because most association unit owners usually pay on time, generally, association accountings are not highly scrutinized on a day-to-day basis. However, when disputes regarding payment arise with an owner, or an account becomes so far behind that litigation is necessary, it becomes increasingly important that unit owner ledgers are without flaws.
Attorneys for debtors are quick to point out any errors in accounting, as this will demonstrate how unreliable the accounting is in its totality. Moreover, errors in accounting or misapplication of payments will often cause a magistrate or judge to become critical of record keeping and the trustworthiness of the Association and its representatives in general.
The Planned Community Act (Ohio Revised Code Chapter 5312) governs homeowners association and requires reserve funds. The Act specifically states:
5312.06. (A) Unless otherwise provided in the declaration or bylaws, the owners association, through its board of directors, shall do both of the following:
(1) Annually adopt and amend an estimated budget for revenues and expenditures. Any budget shall include reserves in an amount adequate to repair and replace major capital items in the normal course of operations without the necessity of special assessments, unless the owners, exercising not less than a majority of the voting power of the owners association, waive the reserve requirement annually.
Question: Our documents require the property manager to obtain a key to each unit. A unit owner recently passed away, and a family member asked if we could let them into the unit to collect some belongings. Should we open the unit for them with our key?
Full, printable version of our November-December Newsletter!
Last month, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments about a little girl and her goldendoodle service dog named Wonder. The question was about the options open to 12-year-old Ehlena Fry and her parents when their Michigan school district denied their request to allow Wonder to go to class with Ehlena.