Your Governing Documents

The heat hitting Denver this weekend has reminded several clients to ask us to review their pool rules.  Community associations are "housing providers" under the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act, and thus our pool rules need to comply with Fair Housing requirements.  

Fair Housing prohibits housing discrimination based on the following factors:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • National Origin
  • Familial Status
  • Disability 

A rule that might seem reasonable and appropriate to a community, such as requiring all children to wear swim diapers, can result in a Fair Housing complaint.  If you’re revising your rules, look to objective guidelines for your restrictions.  Health and safety requirements apply to everyone, regardless of whether they are a member of a protected class.  It is possible to create rules that accomplish your goals without running afoul of the law.  Talk to your attorneys to ensure that your concerns are appropriate, and that your restrictions are expressed in a manner that protects your community from a Fair Housing complaint.

In the meantime – stay cool out there!

On January 1, 2014, new legislation went into effect requiring associations to provide a specific written notice to delinquent homeowners. This notice is required prior to turning over a matter for collections to an attorney or collection agency.

The details of the notice are as follows:

a. It must contain the amount due with an accounting of how the total was determined (a running balance ledger going back to a -0- balance is sufficient);

b.  A statement as to whether the opportunity to enter into a payment plan exists and instructions for contacting the community association manager and/or board member to enter into such a payment plan;

c.  The name and contact information for the individual the unit owner may contact to request a copy of the unit owner’s ledger in order to verify the amount of the delinquency; and

d.  A statement that action is required to cure the delinquency and that failure to do so within thirty days may result in the unit owner’s delinquent account being turned over to a collection agency, a lawsuit being filed against the owner, the filing and foreclosure of a lien against the unit owner’s property or other remedies available under Colorado law.

Continue Reading Clarifying the Collection Notice Requirements to Delinquent Homeowners

Winter in Colorado is sure to bring cold weather, snow, and urgent phone calls about broken water lines and slip-and-fall accidents on common areas. The problems usually start when the temperature begins to warm up after a cold spell or heavy snowfall. Water suddenly streams out of broken pipes, or snow melts and then freezes when the temperature drops at night. Whatever the circumstances, managers and board members can attest to the amount of work involved responding to owners, sorting through damages and injuries, dealing with insurance, and trying to understand legal obligations for water and slip-and-fall incidents. Most of us would love to find a magic wand that we could wave to make these problems disappear. Unfortunately, magic is not a reliable solution.

Associations can best position themselves for dealing with slip-and-fall situations by planning ahead and communicating with owners along the way. If your association is not sure what responsibility it has to remove snow and ice hazards from common areas, here are some risk management steps to help.

Review the association’s governing documents to determine responsibilities for snow removal. Different communities have different responsibilities, and your documents give direction. A condominium community may have the general obligation to remove snow from the common elements, while townhome documents may only require the association to take care of parking lots. A failure to comply with the covenants could result in claims of breach by the association, so confirming responsibilities up-front is crucial.

Continue Reading Frozen? Snow and Ice – Don’t Let It Go

Governor Hickenlooper signed SB13-126 into law today, requiring community associations to permit owners to install Type 1 and Type 2 electric vehicle charging stations on their lots and on limited common elements designated for an individual owner’s use. SB13-126 adds Section 106.8 to the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act and states the following reason for the legislation:

The primary purpose of this section is to ensure that common interest communities provide their residents with at least a meaningful opportunity to take advantage of the availability of plug-in electric vehicles rather than create artificial restrictions on the adoption of this promising technology

By M.O. Stevens (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Continue Reading Get Charged Up! Electric Vehicles Coming to a Neighborhood Near You

September is National Preparedness Month. For the past few years, we have  devoted a September post to reminders of preventative steps that can help keep your community safe and prepared for emergencies. By implementing preventative measures now, your association may reduce injury and liability later. The following focus areas may assist your association in identifying how prepared it is for the next emergency:

Review governing documents and insurance policies. Ensure that insurance coverage and reserve funds meet the association’s needs as well as the requirements set forth in the declaration and state statutes. An insurance and maintenance chart and insurance guidelines prepared by the association’s attorney, in consultation with the insurance agent, can serve as one way of notifying owners of their responsibilities. We also recommend that associations check their fidelity coverage and purchase crime coverage to protect against fraud and embezzlement.

Continue Reading Prevention and Preparedness: How does your community deal with emergencies?

Yesterday, Molly Foley-Healy wrote about community association rules and evaluating whether your association’s rules and restrictions fit your community. Making your rules and regulations fit your community is only one step in the process of reviewing and revising board-adopted rules and regulations. What if your rules are illegal?

One condominium association in Canada was recently ordered to pay a former owner $10,000 for prohibiting the owner’s young daughter from swimming in the association’s pool. The association’s rules prohibited any child under the age of 2 from using the pool. Even though the rule at issue may have fit the community, which apparently consists of many owners or residents over the age of 65, the rule violated the Canadian fair housing laws because it discriminated based on familial status. Similar fair housing laws apply to Colorado community associations.

Continue Reading Ruling Out Diapers Could Really Stink for Your Association

Many associations schedule their annual member and budget ratification meetings in the last months of the year. Annual meetings give an opportunity for owners to vote on one of the primary matters within their control: the election of board members. More members typically attend these meetings than board meetings, and they expect to receive information about important association business and have a chance to ask questions about board actions. Associations should recognize the need to balance member participation and information dissemination with meeting control. No owner wants to attend long, unproductive meetings, nor do members want to show up to the meeting only to learn that they cannot conduct business due to a technical legal issue such as improper notice or lack of quorum.

Continue Reading Annual Meetings: Planning for Success

You will remember from a recent posting that we discussed the new Fannie Mae guidelines, and the anticipated HUD regulations. As noted,  HUD did in fact adopt new temporary regulations that went into effect on December 7, 2009, and remain effective until December 31, 2010, at which time the new permanent HUD regulations will become effective. The new HUD temporary regulations are found in HUD Mortgagee Letter 2009-46 A, and can be found  here. The new HUD permanent regulations are found in HUD Mortgagee Letter 2009-46 B, and can be found here. It is important to note that condominium projects under developer control and under construction or being converted have different standards. This posting does not address those standards.

Continue Reading New Lending Rules Continued – HUD Requirements

The fallout from our current economic crisis is hitting all of us, sometimes in ways we least expect. While many homeowners are struggling to hold onto their homes, many are faced with the prospect of having to sell. In the present economy, that is difficult enough. However, for those whose homes are condominiums, Fannie Mae has implemented new guidelines that can make it more difficult than previously to complete a sale. HUD has adopted similar new temporary regulations which went into effect on December 7, 2009 and remain effective until December 31. 2010, at which time more restrictive permanent regulations become effective.

Continue Reading New Lending Rules – Fannie Mae and HUD

The Colorado Court of Appeals, in the recent court decision of Abril Meadows Homeowner’s Association v. Castro, 211 P.3d 64 (Colo. App. 2009), ruled that an association whose declaration of covenants was unsigned did not have the right to enforce its covenants against its homeowners.

Continue Reading The Importance of Signed and Recorded Covenants