Why Condo, Cooperative, and HOA Boards Need a Legal Eye on Their Documents

As a board member or property manager for a condominium, cooperative or HOA, you shoulder significant responsibility. You make decisions impacting the finances, safety, and quality of life for a whole community. Your actions are, of course, guided by your entity’s governing documents – but were these documents designed to protect the association and its […]

Understanding Your Condo Association’s Declaration: A Guide for Homeowners

Living in a condominium community comes with numerous benefits, including shared amenities, maintenance services, and a sense of community. However, it also entails certain responsibilities and obligations outlined in the condo association’s declaration. This document serves as the foundation for governance within the community, establishing rules, regulations, and guidelines that all residents must adhere to. […]

Historic bill to repudiate racially restricted deed covenants passes (PA)

The Pennsylvania Senate made history Wednesday by unanimously passing state Rep. Justin Fleming’s legislation (H.B. 1289) that would help rectify the legacy of biased housing practices by making it easier for property owners to repudiate discriminatory deed covenants.    Read the article…………………………………..

Common HOA Rules Homeowners Accidentally Break

We know rule enforcement is generally a touchy subject for HOA members. It’s the same for the HOA management company, too. No one feels great about issuing violation notices to homeowners. However, there is an important reason these rules exist at all: to protect and preserve property values by making sure that the community is […]

Understanding Your HOA’s Governing Documents: A Comprehensive Guide

Living in a community governed by a Homeowners’ Association (HOA) comes with many benefits, such as shared amenities and maintenance services. However, it also means adhering to a set of rules and regulations outlined in the HOA’s governing documents. These documents form the foundation of your community’s governance and play a crucial role in shaping […]

2023 Uniform Law Commission Joint Editorial Board for Uniform Real Property Acts Update

The Uniform Law Commission (ULC) provides states with non-partisan, well-conceived and well-drafted legislation that brings clarity and stability to critical areas of state statutory law. Currently, six joint editorial boards are appointed by the ULC in various subject areas. Each of these subject-matter boards are responsible for monitoring new developments and presenting recommendations for relevant […]

The Legal Implications of Limited Common Elements in Realty

Limited common elements in realty are an integral part of condominium ownership, yet they often cause confusion and legal disputes among property owners. Understanding the legal implications of these elements is essential for anyone involved in the real estate industry, from property developers to real estate agents, and of course, the property owners themselves.   Read […]

Discretionary vs Mandatory: When Similar Words Make a Big Difference (CO)

The language of the governing documents of an association provides what an association’s board and owners are allowed and required to do. However, the governing documents often use words that at first blush seem to mean the same thing, such as “power” versus “duty,“ “can” versus “will,” and “may” versus “shall.” Some of these words […]

Racist covenant dating to 1941 stricken from record (CO)

A nearly four-year effort by a small band of people in Colorado Springs to erase an 82-year-old racist covenant from the public record succeeded on Oct. 6 when El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Steve Schleiker ordered his staff to remove it.   Read the article…………………………..

Register of Deeds seeks help to catalog racially restrictive covenants (NC)

The Wake County Register of Deeds Office is putting out the call for volunteers to help dive into its archives and uncover historic insights into our community’s past. The historical evidence is hidden within the “restrictive covenants” of perhaps hundreds of properties and homeowner association clauses throughout the county. The new research effort called the […]

Understanding Limited Common Elements (FL)

Limited common elements in Florida condominiums, as defined by the Florida Condominium Act, refer to common elements exclusively reserved for the use of specific units or groups of units, as outlined in the condominium’s declaration. This definition highlights that limited common elements represent a subset of common elements. Examples of what might be designated as […]

Hierarchy of Governing Documents

A POA’s governing documents, also referred to as the dedicatory instruments, are composed of a variety of document types that form the foundations for the operations of the community. While each document is important, each document has a different degree of authority and control over the functions of the association. In this article, we examine […]

Tips for Understanding and Interpreting Your Governing Documents (CO)

If you just got elected to the board or started managing a new community association, the first thing you should do is review your governing documents. Chances are you will be faced with questions, the answers of which are buried in your governing documents. But getting a solid grasp on your documents may seem like […]

The Interplay Between Condo Bylaws And House Rules

Two important documents maintained by a condominium association are its Bylaws and any Rules and Regulations, also known as House Rules. This article will outline the differences between Bylaws and House Rules and how they are important to the successful governance of a condominium building. Read the article………………………..

Five Red Flags to Look For During Condo Document Review

One of the first things you should look at when evaluating a condo is whether it is in good financial health or not. In this edition of First-Timer Primer, we review five potential red flags you may encounter when reviewing documents for a condominium you are considering purchasing.   Read the article………………………..

Civil suit calls Lake Buchanan POA invalid (TX)

The property owners’ association for Donall Estates on Burnet County Road 104 on Lake Buchanan is embroiled in a civil lawsuit that could negatively affect its deed restriction powers.   Read the article………………………..

5 Details You Should Really Pay Attention to in HOA Contracts

Homeowner’s association (HOA) contracts are famously detailed — from outlining how high your grass should be to what color to paint your home. Most everyone knows that big problems can arise when HOA rules aren’t followed, but if you’ve already signed the contract, it can be tough (or impossible) to have much autonomy.     Read […]

Deed restrictions: What to know about deed-restricted property

If you’re buying a home, or vacant land on which you plan to build one, then deed restrictions should be on your radar. These regulations restrict the way land can be used, as well as what you can build on it and what activities you can partake in while on the premises.   Read the article………………………..

The Legal Aspects of Common Areas in Property Ownership and Management

Understanding the legal aspects of common areas in property ownership and management is crucial for anyone involved in real estate, whether as a property owner, manager, or tenant. These areas, which include spaces such as lobbies, hallways, parking lots, and recreational facilities, are shared by all residents or tenants of a property. The legal rights […]

Understanding the Hierarchy of Governing Documents in a Community Association

Living in a community association entails adhering to a set of governing documents that guide residents, maintain order, and protect property values. These documents exist within a hierarchical structure, each serving a specific purpose and establishing a distinct level of authority.   Read the article………………………..

Resolutions and Amendments

You’ve all heard the terms Resolution and Amendment, but do you understand the differences between the two? These are two terms we hear often and refer to how boards make their decisions regarding their community.  Read the article………………………..

The Importance of Homeowners Association Bylaws and Covenants (GA)

Homeowners associations (HOAs) have become an increasingly common feature of residential communities across the United States. These organizations are typically established by developers to manage and maintain the shared amenities and common areas within a neighborhood, as well as to enforce certain rules and regulations designed to protect property values and maintain a high quality […]

Should Your Association Allow Garage Sales? (OH)

Spring is finally here, which means summer is right around the corner, bringing with it the opening of association swimming pools, more frequent visits from the association’s landscaper, members spending more time outdoors, and…garage sales!   Read the article………………………..

New homeowners discover neighborhood’s racist past (OK)

The ground rules for the area, like number 1, “All lots in this tract shall be known and described and used solely for residential lots.” And number 9, “No fences shall be erected forward of the front building set back lines,” and number 5, “All lots are intended for the use of the Caucasian or […]

Love it or Hate it, Your Community’s Governing Documents Reign Supreme

The host of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver recently made waves by criticizing common ownership community standards and enforcement actions. What John Oliver failed to mention is that associations not only have a right to regulate and enforce their governing documents, but an obligation to do so and residents have an obligation to comply.  […]

East Lansing Homeowners Can Now Formally Disavow Racist Property Covenants (MI)

Old property restrictions for around 100 homes in the Brookfield Heritage Neighborhood explicitly forbid sales to anyone who is not white. While the discriminatory language in these documents has not been enforceable for over 75 years, the documents serve as a jarring reminder of East Lansing’s and the United States’ legacies of discrimination.   Read the […]

Backyard Event Rentals: Problems Posed for Homeowner Associations

Homeowners may wish to engage in backyard event rentals to earn supplemental income. For example, some homeowners may rent out their pool and backyard space for parties. While this might seem like a clever opportunity for homeowners to make an extra buck, such backyard event rentals will likely cause tension between homeowners and their HOA […]

Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions: breaks down the rules that govern HOAs

Across the United States, over 74 million people live within a homeowner association (HOA) community, according to the Foundation for Community Association Research. That number keeps growing, with over two-thirds of all new homes started in the last year set to fall under HOA governance.   Read the article………………………..

Common HOA Rules: How to Find Them and What to Know

If you are shopping for a home right now or are planning on doing so shortly, you are going to encounter homeowners associations (HOAs).  In all homeowner’s associations that are rules that must be followed.    Read the article………………………..

The Declaration

How are the elements of a community defined? What determines the components of the common areas versus homeowner-owned areas? Where is it written that certain elements are the responsibility of the homeowner and others are the responsibility of the association? These issues and others are established in what’s commonly called an association’s declaration and bylaws […]

Are You SURE Those are the Recorded CC&Rs?

As part of the process of creating an insurance proposal, I read through the CC&Rs for the community to confirm what insurance coverage is required. Lately, I’ve twice been asked by an underwriter if the CC&Rs copy that I had was the actual, recorded copy. Wait – what??   Read the article………………………..

HOA Homefront — The misunderstood ‘exclusive use common area’ (CA)

The typical condominium project consists of three categories of property — the “separate interest” (normally called the “unit”), the “common area”, and a subset of common area called “exclusive use common area.” Misunderstandings regarding exclusive use areas lead to many avoidable disagreements    Read the article………………………..

Homeowners write out racism in residential property deeds (MI)

The “Discharge of Prohibited Restrictive Covenants Act,” which state Sen. Sarah Anthony, D-Lansing, began working on in 2018 as a state representative, simplifies the removal process and requires homeowner associations to act if home or property owners request them to remove a restrictive covenant.   Read the article………………………..

Legislative Trend: Amending Discriminatory Covenants

Twenty two states adopted policies to address the removal of discriminatory or restrictive covenants in deeds and/or associations. In 2023, nine states introduced legislation that would allow community associations to remove discriminatory or restrictive covenants. CAI supports legislative language that allows a simplified process for association boards to amend discriminatory covenants nationwide.    Read the article………………………..

What Are Your Legal Rights As A Homeowner In An HOA Community? (CA)

Homeowners in a homeowners association (HOA) community have specific rights protected by law. Hence, community residents must know their legal rights and expectations from the HOA. After all, they pay for the upkeep and maintenance of the community.   Read the article………………………..

What Is The Hierarchy of HOA Documents? (CA)

Homeowners Associations (HOAs) come with more than just a sense of community. They also have a set of rules and regulations. However, the fine details can easily become overwhelming for both board members and homeowners alike!   Read the article………………………..

Guide To Restrictive Covenants In Real Estate

When comparing homes to buy, you may discover that some communities have restrictive covenants in place. These housing rules are most common in condominiums, townhomes, planned communities and subdivisions with a homeowners association (HOA).   Read the article………………………..

Second Department says HOA Board Pet Restriction has to be a Declaration Amendment (NY)

The appeals court which governs over Brooklyn, Staten Island and Long Island, just issued a decision holding that the Meadowbrook Pointe Homeowners Association, Inc.’s rule that dogs greater than 25 pounds can’t be on the association premises, was unenforcible and should have been done by an amendment to the HOA’s Declaration. That would have required […]

Boards & Bylaws Part I: All About Bylaws

This multi-part series will help nonprofit executives and board members consider revisions and amendments to make your bylaws more congruent with the way your nonprofit actually operates, improve governance, and ensure compliance with current law.    Read the article………………………..

How technology is helping remove racist language in Washington state property deeds

If you live in a home built before the 1950s, there’s a chance that lurking in its property records is racist language.  For decades in the first half of the 20th century, developers, real estate companies and communities inserted covenants into property deeds and neighborhood association bylaws that forbid Black, Asian and Jewish residents from […]

Examples of Restrictive Covenants in Real Estate

When you are buying a home for the first time there is a significant amount of things you probably don’t know. Let’s face it, buying real estate is a learning experience.  One of the things you should be aware of when buying in a neighborhood or subdivision is whether or not there are house covenants. […]

Lower Merion agrees to do away with an archaic condo rule (PA)

Recently an attorney for Grays Lane House Unit Owners Association reached out to Lower Merion requesting the township approve a change to the condominium’s governing documents.  The change was for the township to remove itself from having to approve any changes to its documents.    Read the article………………………..

Top 10 Important HOA Rules Every Homeowner Should Know

Homeowners associations have an overall objective of maintaining curb appeal and preserving property values. To do this, associations operate the community, which involves responsibilities such as collecting dues, maintaining common areas, and enforcing rules. Homeowners association rules come in a variety of forms. And while no two communities will have the exact same rules, some […]