November 2016 Condo Association News Roundup


While 2016 is starting to wind down, there’s still plenty going on in the Condo Association news.  The November 2016 Condo Association News stories include the latest on FHA, making building more eco-friendly, and dealing with pet allergies.

FHA Pulls Housing Head Fake on Condo Communities

Kenneth R. Harney, Chicago Tribune, November 1, 2016

This is a fantastic op-ed on the recent Federal Housing Administration (FHA) rules which relate to Condominium FHA financing.  FHA loans are targeted at spurring middle class and low-income lending, and typically have lower down payments, lower fees, and are easier to obtain.  A major sticking point has historically been their availability for Condo projects, where FHA has more stringent rules.  Congress recently passed a law to loosen the rules, but the law left open the ability for FHA to make their own rules.

FHA has done just that, and many people are disappointed with them.  One of the biggest issues is something called the “owner occupancy level” – i.e., how many people in the building are owners vs. investors.  It has typically been held at 50%, which can exclude a number of buildings.  The new FHA rules lower the number to 35%, but imposes stringent rules related to reserve funding that many Associations will not be able to meet.  Mr. Harney does a great job describing this in more detail – a must read for anyone interested in the issue.

How to Make Your Old Condo Building More Eco-Friendly

Solar panels can be a big win if you work out the infrastructure costs.
Solar panels can be a big win if you work out the infrastructure costs.

Jill Chodorov, Washington Post, November 7, 2016

The goal of green buildings is one that many communities strive for.  In addition to environmental considerations, many “green” upgrades are also advantageous from a cost perspective.  While new buildings are often constructed with these standards in mind, aging buildings can find it difficult to retrofit.  This article does a nice job giving examples of the types of improvements a Condo Association can look into, although they miss one of my favorites – electric vehicle charging.

Pet Allergies in a Pet-Friendly Building

So cute... unless you're allergic.
So cute… unless you’re allergic.

Ronda Kaysen, New York Times, November 12, 2016

This real estate Q&A caught my eye because of the push for pet-friendly buildings and policies.  While I am a big fan of pets personally, not everyone is, and part of Condo, HOA and co-op governance is making sure you represent all of your Owners, not just your own personal view.  In this case, a co-op Owner is having their allergies triggered by pet dander in the communal laundry room.  The Owner offered a compromise to the Board, suggesting some machines be designated “pet free” for those with allergies, and the Board refused.  The New York Times columnist, Ms. Kaysen, notes that this may be a violation of reasonable accommodation as well as the New York City Human Rights commission.  This is a great article for those who want to learn more about reasonable accommodation limits in New York City.  

That’s all for the November 2016 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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