November 2017 Condo Association News Roundup


Happy Belated Thanksgiving!  2017 is fast coming to a close.  In the November 2017 Condo Association news, you’ve got some interesting stories about Condo Association life.  One examples is what happens when a Condo resists a Special Assessment – and it’s not all good news.  Eviction of a habitual rulemaker and of course an Airbnb story round out the rest.  Enjoy the November 2017 Condo Association news!

Phoenix Landmark condo owners fight $15,000-plus HOA assessments — and win

Now you have to pay a Special Assessment AND legal fee from suing yourself #winning.

Catherine Reagor and Jessica Boehm, The Republic, 11/13/17

Special Assessments are always bad news for Condo Owners.  The biggest challenge with a Special Assessment is that they fund repair work which is necessary and critical.  When an Assessment comes, an Owner needs to figure out if it is legitimate or not.  While unfortunate, most Special Assessments are in fact legitimate.

This article talks about an assessment at a large Condo building in Arizona.  The building needed millions of dollars of repairs to their HVAC systems.  Owners, however, repeatedly rejected the vote, and a lawsuit against the Association from Owners ensued.  Ultimately the Board and Management who tried to bring the assessment forward resigned following the failed votes and the lawsuit.

The story is complex and the article doesn’t capture many necessary nuances.  For example, it does not explain if there was a peer review on the work, or why the Special Assessment was urgent.  The article also ends on the note that the work still needs to be completed.  This highlights as significant challenge of a Special Assessment.  The work usually needs to be done, so any lawsuits are ultimately delaying actions that end up costing Owners more.  This story is unfortunate as it almost certainly spells continued trouble for the Owners in this community.

Board Recoups Big Legal Costs After Evicting Smoker

Follow the sign!

Bill Morris, Habitat Magazine, 11/21/17

Condo Rules are meant to be followed.  When someone ignores them, an Association, or in this case, a Co-Op, must act.  There are many powers available to dealing with rule breakers.  In this case, however, the Co-Op decided to escalate to a legal solution for an Owner who repeatedly violated a Co-Op’s smoking ban and attempt to evict the Owner in question.  This is a big move for any community.

The net result of legal costs was a staggering $56,000 dollars to the Co-Op. The court ruled that the rule breaker be evicted and also pay restitution in fees to the community.  This is a big win for the Co-Op community.

This story has several lessons.  First, follow your rules and don’t be a jerk if you’re an Owner.  Second, if you’re an Association, be ready to enforce your rules, and try to do so in a cost effective manner – like fining as a first approach.  Finally, understand that any legal action is going to be lengthy and costly.  This case ended up with legal fee reimbursement, but not all cases are so lucky.  Further, there’s no guarantee the Owner will pay.  Still, this is a somewhat happy ending for this community.

Court Refuses to Amend Condo Declaration to Ban Short-Term Rentals

Denise Lash, Lash Condo Law, 11/28/17

Airbnb is always a controversial and hot topic within Condo Associations.  For some, it is a source of disruption and nuisance as short term renters come through.  For others, it is a way to generate revenue from their home.  Perhaps the most important factor related to Condo Associations is what the bylaws say.  Some bylaws explicitly ban short term or “transient” uses, including Airbnb.  Others do not.

Changing the bylaws in Canada requires an 80% vote of all Owners, and is a tough bar.  So one Condo Association sought to use a legal route to change their bylaws.  Their argument was that although short term rentals were allowed under their bylaws, there were a host of other legal factors that should render short term rentals banned anyway.  

As outlined by Denise Lash in this article, the court disagreed, and told the Condo community they would need to amend their bylaws the old fashioned way.  This ruling highlights the challenge that communities will face regarding short term rentals and bylaws amendments.  If you cannot amend the bylaws, you may consider comprehensive policies instead.

That’s all for the November 2017 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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