As association attorneys we are in need of the governing documents in order to answer questions posed by the board or the manager. Frequently we have those documents in that association’s file if we regularly represent that association. We do need to keep up to date on any changes in the rules and regulations or architectural guidelines which may be made without our input or review. Of course, we do believe it is a good investment for associations to allow us to review proposed rule or guideline changes before implementing to insure enforceability.
[This article is an excerpt from an article written by Mike Hunter for the
Charlotte Observer. We believe it contains some very helpful information and suggestions]
“Most swimming pools have a list of rules posted somewhere on the premises. We’ve all seen them. The rules contain common sense prohibitions against dangerous pool activities, such as having glass in the pool area and diving into the shallow end.
And almost every set of pool rules contains a statement similar to this: ‘No one under the age of 18 may use the pool unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.’ It makes sense, right?
According to a 2012 federal court opinion from California (Iniestra v. Cliff Warren Investments), a pool rule requiring adult supervision of children violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) because it discriminated against families with children.
In explaining its opinion, the federal court found the rule requiring adult supervision to not make perfect sense if its goal was to ensure the safety of all swimmers. The court noted that the Iniestra children, who were competent swimmers, were not allowed in the pool facility without a parent, but yet adults who never swam a day in their life could use the pool facility without supervision. Also illogical was that a certified lifeguard who was under 18 could not use the pool without the presence of a parent or guardian.
March 2015 – The U.S. Department of Justice announced settlement of a Fair Housing violation case against a Community Association and its Management. In addition to requiring a revamped set of Rules, the offenders must pay a $10,000 penalty to the United States and pay $100,000 to six families that suffered as a result of the discrimination.
The Complaint filed in 2013 alleged that the enactment and enforcement of a facially neutral Common Areas Rule was discriminatory. The rule provided that:
In the past two months we have been consulted on two situations involving emotional support animals. Be it known that this is a topic addressed by the Fair Housing Act. In order to qualify the resident must satisfy certain requirements. They are as follows:
Documentation from a physician, psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental health professional that the animal provides emotional support that alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of an existing disability. Such documentation is sufficient if it establishes that an individual has a disability and that the animal in question will provide some type of disability-related assistance or emotional support.
We have found that managers and board members who have not had any experience with the process of obtaining FHA project approval have unrealistic expectations about the processing time.In this edition we let you know the “ins and outs” of the application for such approval. We handle both initial applications and recertifications and there is a significant difference.
Due to some shepherding of this bill by CAI’s Virginia Legislative Action Committee, as of July 1 you can get help from the Circuit Court if you have made a good faith attempt (3 times) to get a critical amendment passed without success. The statute details exactly what must be done to achieve the amendment. We hate to say it but you really need to read this statute as it lays out exactly how and when it works. Here it is:
Just because new owners have received a disclosure packet when they signed a purchase contract doesn’t mean they read it. A welcome packet is a way to be sure your new owners are educated about their Association, especially amenities, benefits and rules. An owner who is educated is one who will most likely comply. If an owner does not understand a rule he has a chance to inquire before becoming a violator. Here are some suggestions for the content of a welcome packet:
Many local condominiums are not approved or are about to expire. We provide advice and application preparation with respect to FHA project approvals. Condominiums must get certified/approved every two years. There is no fee charged by the FHA. The boards of every condominium in which FHA loans are a likely source of financing owe it…
Recently we received the following question the answer to which could be helpful to many of you.
Q. Our condominium has a serious need for some renovation work on windows, doors and some balconies. It is going to cost around $3,000 a unit as best we can tell right now. One contractor we consulted said it was not urgent and that we could do it over a period of time. Another contractor indicated that he thought the deterioration would accelerate and we needed to do all the work right away. The Board is divided on which way to go, and right now we only have four Board members, and it is a 50/50 split. Our next election is September and we cannot agree on a new Board member either. We have been at this standoff for four months now, and we need to move ahead with some plans, but we do not seem to be able to do so. Do you have any suggestions?
Only a few years ago the Virginia General Assembly recognized that many association boards just would not face up to the need for reserves in an effort to keep “dues” at a lower and more competitive level. Many are paying a price for those decisions now. It became such a problem that several years ago the Virginia General Assembly passed a law requiring reserve studies every 5 years and an annual review of reserves by every board (see Section 55-79.83:1of the Condo Act and Section 55-514.1of the POA Act.).