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General Information for Owners

  • Have a condo? Pay attention to percentage ownership October 17, 2017 If you own a condominium, or plan to, read closely. You might not own exactly what you think.  When his association levied a special assessment, a reader of this column was unhappy to learn he was charged 20 percent more than his upstairs neighbors. How could this be?  It turned out his unit came with a higher percentage of ownership than the identical units above him.    Read the article………..
  • Will insurance cover an Irma-related special assessment? (FL) October 14, 2017 Q: My condominium association lost a portion of the roof as a result of Hurricane Irma. The board adopted a special assessment to pay for the repairs. Will my individual insurance for my unit cover this special assessment?   Read the Q&A…………..
  • Condo board may be ‘terrible,’ but withholding dues will make matters worse October 13, 2017 Q:  I live in a 55+ condominium community and many residents, myself included, feel that the board is doing a terrible job at maintaining our community, despite the high dues that we pay. We have spoken out at board meetings, but it seems our concerns are ignored. Can we withhold our dues, or perhaps pay them into an escrow account, to let them know we are serious?    Read the Q&A…………….
  • Withholding Your Maintenance Payments: Do You Have a Right to Do That During a Dispute? October 12, 2017 Conflicts between both unit owners and their co-op or condo, or between neighbors, can get ugly pretty quickly. Often due to many considerations–in particular the slow pace of anything in common-interest properties and the general reluctance to spend money–these conflicts can result in growing anger and frustration. The first response of many a frustrated shareholder or unit owner is to threaten financial retaliation, usually by withholding maintenance or common charges. But is this a viable option?   Read the article……………
  • The budget process and determining your condo fee October 12, 2017 I often hear buyers proclaim that a condo fee is “too high” yet these same buyers seem not to know exactly what determines a condo fee. It is impossible to assess if the fee is “too high” without knowing the history of any “special assessments.” A community that defers maintenance and keeps the fee artificially low will eventually have a large special assessment.  The condominium budget is planned annually to cover both operational expenses and payment to a reserve fund ...
  • What Owners Need to Know about Community Association Board Meetings October 9, 2017 A Board Meeting is a meeting that is held regularly by the Board of Directors. This meeting is held to discuss and make decisions on association business. Owners are welcome to attend these meetings. These meetings are usually held monthly or bi-monthly  Read the article………………….

Owners – General Information Archives

New Owners

  • New Resident Screening and Avoiding Disparate Impact Claims September 20, 2016 Most well-run community associations incorporate a new tenant application and approval process, and some even utilize such a program for new owners. A typical new resident screening program includes criminal background checks, credit checks, employment verification, and prior rental history. A community association is likely to deny any prospective new resident whose background check produces questionable items. But are associations cognizant of the liability concerns pursuant to recent changes in federal law regarding disparate impact claims for administering a flawed ...
  • 6 Must-Haves in a Condominium Welcome Package May 26, 2016 It’s the condo board’s job to ensure that newcomers to the building feel welcome. For the sake of both the newcomer and the community-based atmosphere of a condo building, condo boards are responsible for ensuring that new residents are well-settled and aware of the buildings rules and regulations. A great way to receive new residents is to prepare a welcome package that shares valuable building and community information with the new addition to your condo family. What goes in an ...
  • The Need for Move-In Orientation September 9, 2015 Though the questions posed at the opening of this article are among the most frequently cited, there are many other issues that buyers may not even realize until long after their closing or moving in day. Just consider the specific areas where problems might arise: HOA contact and informational issues, emergency issues, building access and usage issues, insurance issues, and storage concerns.    Read the article…………
  • Why It’s Important to Read the CC&Rs in Your Homeowners Association October 12, 2014 Do you remember receiving the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) when you moved into the Association? Do you know that they are very important to you as the homeowner? Have you taken a look at these documents lately? If not, now is a great time to brush up on the do’s and don’ts of your community. There is no time like the present to make sure you are in compliance.  Read more………
  • Fences or flamingoes: Be sure you know your homeowner association rules September 29, 2014 A new homeowner moves into a neighborhood governed by a private association, receives an invitation to a potluck that doubles as an annual meeting and shows up with a bottle of wine and a dish to pass.    Read more………
  • Who’s Responsible for Repairs? Board and Owner Maintenance Responsibilities August 22, 2014 Say you’re in bed, and you hear what sounds like the shower going. It’s late, and you’re tired, so you pay it no mind. You wake up at 4 a.m. to get a glass of water and find half the rooms in your apartment flooded— you forgot to turn the shower off! You throw blankets and towels on the floor to soak up the water and call your building’s maintenance staff.    Read more……..

New Owners Article Archives




Insurance for Owners

  • With Insurance Claims, Time Is of the Essence October 17, 2017 In our upcoming special November issue, “Governing Powers Through a Legal Lens,” several prominent lawyers advise boards and the residents of co-ops and condos on the vagaries of establishing liability for leaks, fires, and other unwelcome mishaps. Their advice, though varied, contains a thread: when filing an insurance claim, time is of the essence.    Read the article……………….
  • Loss Assessment Insurance October 6, 2017 You live in a condominium association and happily (ok, probably not “happily”) pay your dues each month. Your board has diligent members and your association is well insured. What could go wrong? Well, lots can go wrong, unfortunately. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. A slip and fall accident might find the association on the wrong side of a lawsuit. Or, the association might discover hidden property damage that must be repaired. There is a myriad of unforeseen ...
  • 5 Ways Hawaii Condo Dwellers Can Protect Themselves September 19, 2017 When I accompanied our daughter in her search to buy a condominium in Honolulu a few years ago, we didn’t even think to ask the real estate agent if the unit we liked had a fire sprinkler system or how much fire insurance the building association had purchased or if there were regularly scheduled fire drills.    Read the article…………….
  • How to Save on Home & Renters Insurance in Your Homeowners Association August 25, 2017 Whether you own or rent your home within a homeowners association, insurance is essential to protect your property and household goods. Comparison shopping for the best rates will certainly save you some money, but you also can save by following these tips:     Read the article………….
  • HO-6 Insurance: Understanding Condo Insurance June 26, 2017 Condo owners have very specific property insurance needs. While condo owners have dominion over their individual unit, homeowners associations are usually responsible for the exterior of the building as well as lawn and landscaping features. Likewise, there is an incredible amount of variance in the governing laws of different homeowners associations that frequently affect the insurance needs of condo owners. As such, HO-6 insurance policies are customized for individual policyholders more often than other types of home insurance.  An HO-6 ...
  • Condominium unit owners allege insurance company refuses to pay coverage (WV) April 13, 2017 Two Webster County condominium unit owners are suing Nationwide, alleging breach of contract by refusing to pay coverage claims under an insured policy.  Wilma Sue Talbott and William Talbott filed a complaint March 22 in Webster Circuit Court against Nationwide Insurance Company of America, alleging failure to honor a written contract by refusing to pay insurance coverage.    Read the article…………….

Insurance for Owners Article Archives

Buying/Selling Your Unit/Home in an Association

  • No Regrets: How to Research a New-Construction Condo Before You Buy (NY) October 17, 2017 Recently I was considering buying a condo in a four-unit new-construction building in Brooklyn. The pictures of the unit in the glossy marketing materials, naturally, looked gorgeous. But after some intensive digging into the building and its developer, I bailed. I had narrowly avoided buying the real estate equivalent of a lemon.   Read the article……………..
  • Pros and Cons of Gated and Non-Gated Community Associations: Thoughts and Considerations October 16, 2017 A safe neighborhood is a top priority of home buyers. For many of these home buyers, a gated community is an attractive option. The gate represents protection from the outside world by the careful monitoring of those entering the community. Is a gate, guarded or otherwise, an accurate representation of protection or just an illusion? Let’s examine the pros and cons of gated community associations.   Read the article…………….
  • The Home Buying Trends of Millennials and Their Impact on HOAs October 12, 2017 Millennials are at an age where they’re eager to become homeowners. They’re raising children, building themselves up as active members of their community, and looking for homes where they can grow. Therefore, it’s important that you understand the home buying trends of millennials and how they can impact your homeowner association.    Read the article……………
  • The budget process and determining your condo fee October 12, 2017 I often hear buyers proclaim that a condo fee is “too high” yet these same buyers seem not to know exactly what determines a condo fee. It is impossible to assess if the fee is “too high” without knowing the history of any “special assessments.” A community that defers maintenance and keeps the fee artificially low will eventually have a large special assessment.  The condominium budget is planned annually to cover both operational expenses and payment to a reserve fund ...
  • A Rude Awakening: Your Board May Not Have the Right to Screen Leases and Sales at All! (FL) October 9, 2017 Even in the frenzy of post-Irma repairs, ordinary life continues and for most volunteer boards and professional managers that means screening applicants who wish to lease or purchase in their communities.  However, purchase and rental screening has become such a part of the fabric of community association life that some boards and managers have forgotten to confirm the source of authority for such activity. Several boards were recently dismayed when I advised them that they do not have authority either ...
  • Condo financing aimed at renters September 28, 2017 The rising cost and scarcity of undeveloped land will continue to change how and where we live.  What we have long thought of as alternative housing is getting more consideration in many conventional neighborhoods. Traditional East Coast co-op apartments and more rural-based co-housing communities are sprouting up in common suburban environments. Developers now are promoting the financial logic of building up, not out.  Condominiums now will shoulder much of the future city-dweller load. The condo market has resurged as all ...

Buying/Selling Article Archives

Working With Boards

  • Three Ways to Annoy Condo Association Boards July 27, 2017 Most people want a to live a simple Condo life and generally be left alone.  Sometimes, however, life gets in the way, and there can be complications.  While Condo Boards have a bad reputation, the reality is that most are made up of normal people who are fairly understanding.  However, there are certain things that can cause a Board to crack down on you hard.  Here are three ways to annoy Condo Association Boards.      Read the article………….
  • HOA Homefront: What to do when you get a notice for a board hearing July 1, 2017 A notice of a disciplinary hearing is not the best kind of mail to open, but in common interest communities that is how associations compel owners to be good neighbors.  How one responds to a hearing notice can greatly affect the outcome. Consider the following pointers toward a more productive presentation at the hearing, and to help avoid wasting the valuable opportunity the hearing provides.    Read the article…………..
  • Crystal Vision: Why Communication Between a Board and Management Company Matters April 27, 2017 As a board member, you want your community to grow and thrive. Having a vision for your community—the aesthetics of it, its reputation, the kinds of programming it offers and amenities it provides—is critical to its long-term well-being. A well-crafted vision will transcend board and resident turnover and keep your community on track.     Read the article…………….
  • How Healthy Is Your Condo Board? How to Conduct a Thorough Checkup April 25, 2017 As uncomfortable as it might be to get poked and prodded while you’re clothed in a paper gown, medical checkups are essential to maintaining your health. Well, guess what? That same wisdom applies to buying a home—particularly if that home is a condo. Why? Because with condos, you’re paying someone else to be in charge of a lot of the maintenance, from lawn mowing to repairs. What if they slack off and let that stuff go? If so, things will ...
  • Effectively Working with Master Associations April 14, 2017 Having captured what Master Associations are, the challenge is for Condo Boards to find ways to effectively work with them. While there is a tendency to ignore them to a certain degree, that path is the path to failure. The secret to effectively working with Master Associations is simple: You must take off your Board hat and put on your Owner hat. The same tricks and tips that make informed and involved Owners successful will also enable Condo Boards to ...
  • HOA Model Remodeling March 14, 2017 Owning your own home is an American dream. In urban settings, homeowner associations have become a dominant form of new construction, often representing over two thirds of new homes. While HOA homeowners have many rights and privileges, they often concede certain freedoms usually enjoyed in more traditional home ownership. One particular area of concession involves remodeling.     Read the article………….

Working With Boards Article Archives