It is officially campaign season in Georgia. Community associations may be wondering whether homeowners can place political signs in their yards or on common areas to support a particular candidate. Boards may also be questioning how best to address door-to-door solicitors that are canvassing for candidates and/or seeking contributions.
In the past, community association covenant enforcement was often limited to what boards and/or managers could personally document. For example, the documentation could might include a photo of the violating property taken from the street. Nowadays, with the widespread use of social media community associations may have access to another layer of property owners' actions. This begs the question: should community associations use social media to investigate potential covenant violations?
There is a common misconception that their property ownership rights are absolute. The truth is, however, that the government can take away any private property right without the owner's consent. This is called eminent domain, also known as condemnation, and it occurs when the federal or state government—or even a non-governmental entity, such as a public utility—takes over private property for the public good or public use, without consent.
The Federal Housing Administration ("FHA") is a government agency that insures home loans for buyers who may not qualify for a conventional loan. By obtaining an FHA-insured loan, these buyers can more easily qualify for a home loan, make a smaller down payment, and pay less in closing costs. These types of loans are attractive to many first-time home buyers and other buyers who may choose to hold onto available funds, rather than making a sizeable down payment.
Community association annual meeting season is well under way. The notices have gone out and most included a proxy should owners be unable to attend. Despite their frequent use, proxies can be confusing.
During the holidays, residents often decorate their properties with wreathes, lights and/or other seasonal décor. This can be a pleasant way to spread cheer, and it can even add a fun, communal vibe throughout the neighborhood. But what happens when the decorations go too far? Almost inevitably, there is at least one resident that goes overboard, causing management and the board of directors to revisit the association's guidelines on this specific topic.
Most homeowner associations and condominiums have parking rules in their governing documents. These will often include limitations or complete bans on parking on the community streets or certain portions of the common elements. For violations of these provisions, many associations will be able to (1) fine the violating owner, or (2) boot/tow the violating vehicle. Before proceeding with these options, however, boards and property managers should make sure to follow the procedures outlined by their governing documents and local law.
Residents in heavily wooded communities often express concern about potential damage from trees that extend over their homes and vehicles. The question is always the same--if a tree or limb falls on the resident's property, who is responsible for the damage?
Sooner or later, every community association is faced with an issue that was never contemplated by its declaration, articles of incorporation, bylaws or rules and regulations. This may be the result of new statutes or case law, or it could be a new property trend that no one saw coming (e.g., solar panels, Airbnb, etc.). Whatever the issue, it is important for community associations to stay on top of the changes.
Protective covenants governing the number and type of occupants per dwelling have been subject to much scrutiny over the years. This has a lot to do with the Federal Fair Housing Act ("FHA"), by which community associations are bound. When dealing with a potential overcrowding or occupancy issue, it is important to remember that the FHA prohibits many types of discrimination, including discrimination based on familial status.