What topics are making the rounds among condo owners’ associations in 2017? While many of the legal issues cropping up have been under discussion for a long time, there are also a number of interesting new trends and challenges facing today’s COAs. Here are some of the most interesting tidbits from around the web.
“Friends of the Court” Argue to Uphold Lien Rights for Community Associations
It’s probably not often that matters of interest to the average COA go all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. But Bourne Valley Court Trust v. Wells Fargo Bank is a notable exception. The Community Associations Institute (CAI) recently endorsed an amicus curiae brief related to this case composed by The Community Association Lawyers and submitted to the court for consideration. You can find all the legalese at Community Association Insider.
Simply, an amicus brief is an opinion on a topic written by someone who isn’t party to the lawsuit. But, this person has a significant interest in the lawsuit’s outcome. This particular brief supports the rights of HOAs and COAs when it comes to having their liens take priority over those of other creditors (such as mortgage lenders) when a resident fails to pay their dues or fines as required by their covenant. Naturally, this would only be the case if the COA or HOA was the first to declare a lien. The argument is that, since a community association is forced to pay in advance for providing services to the resident, the association should be first in line to be repaid if the resident defaults on their obligations.
Florida Passes Five New Laws Impacting COAs and HOAs
As a prime location for retirement and vacationing, the Sunshine State is bursting at the seams with condos. It’s no surprise that the state legislature frequently deals with issues related to COAs. Here are just a few of the new rules for 2017-18:
- Condo associations with 150 or more units must have a secure website. Each owner must be provided with a login and password. This website should host all the official records, documents, rules, covenants, other agreements, annual budget and proposed budgets, financial reports, and notices, etc.
- Official records now include bids for materials, equipment, and services (which means board members should take extra care to get multiple bids so they can justify their vendor selection).
- COAs with fewer than 50 units must now comply with financial reporting requirements based on their revenue—they can’t prepare a report of cash receipts and expenditures instead.
You can find more details at FLABusinessLaw.com.
Should COAs Approve EVCS?
With more people driving electric cars, it’s no surprise that they want to charge their cars at home. But adding an electric vehicle charging station for private use to a property that’s part of a COA or HOA might be an uphill battle. A guest blogger at Condo Law Guru tells the story of what it took to get one charging station safely installed at a California condo. One of the primary challenges was deciding where to place it.
Should it go in a common area between the resident’s parking space and their unit? Or, is it safe to locate it in the resident’s actual parking space? Will it be wired to draw power that’s tracked by the resident’s electric meter, or will the COA have to track electric usage and bill the resident? These questions deserve to be answered. With a little common sense and ingenuity, it shouldn’t be impossible to come up with a solution. COAs can expect to find an increasing number of residents requesting permission to install private charging stations. It’s smart to explore this topic now and draw up fair guidelines to head off costly legal conflicts.
Neighborhoods Are Catching Up with Condos
Private security is one of the many concierge services Ardent provides for our clients. It’s a service that’s in high demand in gated communities. But now, people in traditional residential areas are starting to band together and follow suit. Apparently, residents in several Sacramento neighborhoods have pooled their money to hire private guards to patrol their community. The patrol is to deter minor crimes like theft and property damage that have increased in recent years. Hannah Knowles at Community Associations writes about this trend here.
The wrinkle in the story is that residents circumvented their HOA entirely after being unable to get the request for beefed up security approved through the board. The concern for safety was important enough for them to band together. It was also important for them to create a separate association solely for the purpose of paying for security patrols. If your association doesn’t yet provide private security, you would do well to poll the members of your community. Chances are, this is a high priority for quite a few residents.
At Ardent Residential, we make a point of staying up to date with the latest challenges facing COAs. We also stay up to date on new ways to improve quality of life for residents. Explore how we can prepare your COA for the future.