September 2017 Condo Association News Roundup


Happy Fall!  Hopefully the equinox is bringing good tidings to your Condo Association.  September has seen hurricanes pummeling Florida and Texas, with impacts to Condo Associations.  Our thoughts and prayers go out for a speedy recovery to those communities. Included in the September 2017 Condo Association roundup are articles on the hurricanes, an update on the sinking Millennium Tower, and the issue of transparency for prospective buyers.  Enjoy!

Note that going forward, Better Condo Life will post the news roundup the first Monday after the end of the month.  This will allow for a greater capture if interesting end of month stories.

HOA’s Lack of Transparency Raises Red Flags for Home Buyer

By Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin, Washington Post, September 11, 2017

Warning: Partial Paywall

When you see these, proceed with extreme caution!

This is a great article in the Washington Post’s Q&A section about a prospective Owner in a HOA asking all the right questions before buying.  A couple’s dream home is in a HOA that may be facing a special assessment that would dramatically boost HOA fees.  The couple is trying to find out more about the likelihood and what they should do, because they really want the home.

The Washington Post writers have a very thoughtful response, noting that the prospective buyers are doing exactly the right thing.  They note how potential peer reviewing of proposals could impact things. The only point with which I disagree is that they recommend the prospective ask the HOA President for their take.  Any good HOA or Condo Board member will NEVER speak to a prospective buyer.  Such an act opens up the Association and potentially even the Board member to liability.  A Special Assessment amplifies this concern further.  I would note that if a Board Director reveals any information to an Owner, I would not buy in that community – it means the Board doesn’t know how to do their job!  

This is a great article for any prospective buyer, and a reminder that the HOA has a huge impact on how you live and must be considered prior to any purchase.

Associations Dealing With Unique Problems Post Hurricane Irma

Donna DiMaggio Berger, The Community Association Law Blog, September 12, 2017

Irma has left a path of devastation, and Better Condo Life wishes everyone a speedy recovery.

Florida faced extreme impact from Hurricane Irma, and Better Condo Life wishes a speedy recovery for all of our Florida readers and readers with affected family.  Now that the hurricane has passed, Condo Associations have a leadership role to play in the recovery effort.  This presents several challenges, which the always insightful and eloquent Donna DiMaggio Berger captures.

A key theme in this article is, of course, money.  Disasters like Hurricane Irma will result in costly repairs that will likely not be fully covered by insurance or other assistance.  That means the Association will need to turn to Owners, which can present a number of challenges.  Ms. DiMaggio Berger provides highly actionable advice on how to approach special assessments and delinquency.  She also identifies alternative paths such as FEMA or other grants which can help ease the pain.  

This article is a must-read for anyone affected by a natural disaster or communities who need to proactively plan for disasters.  

A Fix for San Francisco’s Sinking Skyscraper Could Cost Upwards of $100 Million, and No One Wants to Foot the Bill

Melia Robinson, Business Insider, September 22, 2017

Still there, still sinking.

It has been some time since we’ve seen any updates on the incredibly expensive – and sinking – Millennium Tower of San Francisco.  As a refresher, this ultra luxe Condo building is sinking for reasons that are not yet fully determined.  This is resulting in the ultimate construction defect with a pricetag of potentially $100 million or more.  

The latest is that there is an engineering solution of reinforcing the base that will cost $100M-$150M.  While an incredible price tag, the article notes it is less than expected.  The major sticking point remains – who is at fault, and who picks up the bill?  The developer blames a nearby city transit project, and an engineering firm blames the developer.  What is certain is that Owners will likely have to litigate to get any remedy.  In the interim, they will have to foot the initial bill until litigation plays out.  No matter how rich you are or where you buy, construction defects can happen to anyone.  


That’s all for the September 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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