March 2018 Condo Association News Roundup


March has gone out like a lamb, and spring is in the air.  As we shake off winter, there’s lots to cover in the March 2018 Condo Association news roundup.  An article from Donna DiMaggio Berger talks about how community Associations can handle the construction of neighboring buildings.  An article from Canada talks about the impacts of widespread marijuana legalization on Condo communities and options for banning marijuana smoke.  And finally, a legal analysis of a big case in Michigan from Kevin Hirzel discusses what Associations are and are not responsible for with regards to maintenance of major elements such as roadways.  Enjoy the March 2018 Condo Association News!

When construction occurs next door, your Board needs to get involved early!

Donna DiMaggio Berger, March 12 2018, Community Association Law Blog

New neighbors can bring new friends – or overcrowding.

Associations rarely have a positive response to the news of construction of a new community next door.  The possibility of additional noise, traffic, and unwanted neighbors can bring out the worst in a community. In addition, it can often feel as if your small Association is up against a well-funded Developer with the government in its pocket.

While elements of this can be true, you still have the ability to mitigate the construction and protect your community’s equities.  Donna DiMaggio Berger, a well-known Florida lawyer, discusses the sorts of issues you need to be on the lookout for and how you can work cooperatively with the neighboring Developer.  While you can’t expect to stop the construction, you can, with diligence, mitigate the impact. Board members who are facing the potential for neighboring construction should read this article. You never know when you’ll get new neighbors.

Condo boards can legally ban cannabis use Staff, 3/28/18,

Legalized marijuana – is it a good thing?

Canada is expected to fully legalize marijuana in the summer of 2018.  This legislative push has been long in the making and appears to have significant support.  Many Condo Owners probably are terrified of the expansion of the pungent smell of weed in their homes.

According to this article, there may be hope for communities.  Per Deborah Howden, a Toronto lawyer who specializes in Condo Associations, banning marijuana for the welfare of other Owners should be allowed within the Condominium Act in Canada.  However, she cautions that medical marijuana users would likely be exempt.

In many jurisdictions, cigarette smoke is a major issue.  It will be interesting to see if marijuana smoke creates the same response following legalization.  Will the public ultimately push back on marijuana odors the way they have cigarettes? Time will tell.

Michigan Court Rules That Association Is Not Required to Maintain Road to Township Standards

Kevin Hirzel, 3/19/18, The Michigan Community Association Law Blog

HOAs and Condo Associations have the responsibility to maintain what is often significant infrastructure for their communities.  This ranges from amenities – i.e., pools and basketball courts – to major systems in a Condo, like fire alarms and elevators. In some communities, infrastructure such as streetlamps and roads are part of the deal.  

An Owner has sued an HOA in Michigan related to maintenance issues.  The Owner alleged the HOA’s roads were not up to the Township’s standards.  The Owner felt the roads were unsafe, and as a result, sued. The roads in question were never built to the Township’s standards. Furthermore, improving those roads to meet the code was estimated to cost more then half a million dollars.

The court ultimately found that the HOA was only bound to the standards defined in their own Bylaws and CC&Rs, as opposed to Township ordinances.  There are several key takeaways for Michigan community Associations that Mr. Hirzel outlines, such as how CC&Rs interact with local ordinances, and what latitude communities have for maintenance standards as a result.  This is a helpful document for Michigan communities that maintain roads or other major infrastructure.

That’s all for the March 2018 Condo Association news! Did you know that you can get even more news articles by signing up for our mailing list?  Mailing list subscribers get monthly bonus news stories and analysis.  Join the list today!

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