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.
With Memorial Day behind us and the Fourth of July just around the corner, we have reached a popular time of year for displaying the American Flag. For many community associations, hanging any type of flag is considered a change in a property's appearance (thus, requiring prior approval from the board and/or appropriate review committee), but the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005 (the "Act") supersedes any restrictive covenant that attempts to restrict or prevent a resident from displaying the flag of the United States on his or her unit/lot.
Many community associations have some type of covenant restricting the number and size of dogs or other animals that may be kept in the community. Some governing documents even prohibit certain types of animals or breeds of dogs. In the event a disabled resident (i.e., an owner or occupant) requests an accommodation from the association for his or her service or emotional-support animal, the association may be required to waive its pet rules to ensure compliance with the federal Fair Housing Act ("FHA"). Failing to recognize the importance of compliance with this law could result in costly legal trouble for the association.
Too often, community associations find themselves being reactive as opposed to proactive when it comes to dealing with disasters. The most common "disaster" for many boards and property managers is the occasional pipe burst; however, disaster can come in many shapes or sizes.
Research suggests that over 3 million drones were sold last year in the United States. Many of these drones were purchased by hobbyists, but a large portion of them are also being used for commercial purposes. For example, in the real estate profession alone, drones are being used to capture images for sales agencies, insurance companies, utility providers, contractors and even reserve study engineers. This increase in popularity is forcing community associations, similar to the many levels of government, to regulate drone usage within their jurisdictions.
When Reserve Funds Are Not Enough—Options and Creative Solutions for Funding Major Repairs to Association Common Property
Whether expected or unexpected, at some point, all associations will need to undertake a major repair to common property. Roofs will inevitably need repair or replacement; elevators will need modernization; parking lots and roadways will need seal-coating; retaining walls will need restoration; and tennis courts will need resurfacing. Hopefully, the association obtained a professional reserve study and started putting aside enough money to cover these capital expenditures. But what if the reserves are insufficient?