When townhome or condominium owners do work inside or outside of their unit, it could impact the AssociationSome issues that need to be discussed and addressed if they will affect the Association are:

1.         Will it adversely affect building systems? Example: might water overflow to another unit?

2.         Cosmetic issues: will it affect the

Summer time is the season of vacations, fun and, for many Community Associations, construction.  Most Managers are very thorough and knowledgeable, and have assisted Associations with construction projects. Some Board members have worked in the construction industry and have valuable insights. So why is it wise to involve an independent engineer, architect, or construction expert (here called "engineer") in your Association’s repair projects (such as painting, roofing, siding or asphalt projects)? Here are a few reasons for an engineer to be involved on repair or restoration projects in your community:

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A question we are frequently asked by associations is how strictly they should enforce their covenants. This was exactly the dilemma faced by a small patio home community located in North West Denver. Apparently a homeowner had painted her house golden yellow. The color was not unattractive – it actually looked quite nice – but it was clearly not one of the earth tone colors approved by the association. After some investigation by the Association’s Board of Directors, it became apparent that this was an honest mistake by the homeowner. She was new to the community and was unaware that she was restricted in her color choices. Although she was also willing to work with the Association to correct things, money was an issue. She had recently experienced some serious personal problems and could not afford to repaint her house. This is when I received a call from the Board’s president asking “What should we do?”

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Below is a trial story from Larry Leff, senior partner here at WLPP:

Not Your Ordinary Collection Case

In the not too distant past our firm took on a collection case for one of our associations that took an interesting twist. We filed a lawsuit in our county court, jurisdiction under $15,000.00, against a homeowner for the non-payment of assessments. The debtor homeowner filed a counterclaim against the Association, asserting claims that the association breached its contract with him – failing to maintain the property – and   that it breached its fiduciary duty to him, among other claims. He also requested exemplary damages. During the course of litigation, the homeowner brought his account current, minus the attorney fees and costs. At trial, the Association was granted an award for its attorney fees and costs, and the court dismissed all the homeowner’s counterclaims.

The homeowner refused to satisfy the judgment, so garnishment proceedings were initiated.   The garnishment was successful and the Association collected the full amount.

Subsequent to the satisfaction, the homeowner decided he wanted to do landscaping work to enhance his property. He put up a retaining wall of concrete, railroad ties, gravel and
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Issue: A large homeowners association is looking to make repairs to the common area fences within the community. What options are available to them to finance this project?

Background: Recently, the Board of Directors of a large homeowners association called our office to discuss a problem. It seems that they had common area fences that were fairly old and in desperate need of some TLC. Unfortunately they did not have any funds available to make the necessary repairs.    Pursuant to the Association’s covenants, the Board was severely restricted in the amount it could set for the annual assessments each year (without approval of at least 2/3 of the members, the covenants limited the annual assessment to a 10% increase from the previous year). As a consequence, the Association’s reserve fund was nearly empty. The Board had tried on several occasions to get the members to approve a special assessment, but it was turned down each time. The Board was now wondering what options it had available to pursue.

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County Court, where most collection cases are heard, tends to judge a case more by equity rather than the letter of the law. Each County Court Judge or Magistrate has their own interpretation of what is fair and reasonable. Thus, we must proceed with caution when going to trial, even if we know the law is on our side. Our first trial story took place last summer and illustrates this point.

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The Community Associations Institute (CAI) held its annual Law Seminar this year from February 22-24 in New Orleans.  All the attorneys from our office were able to attend and discuss current trends in HOA law with colleagues from around the country.  Topics this year included "Cyber Issues and Electronic Voting", "7 Deadly Fair Housing Sins of Community Associations", and "The Latest Trends in Rental Restrictions".  Much was learned and a good time was had by all.

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