Association Records – What You Need to Know (WI)

Two years ago, the law in Wisconsin was clarified relative to what records unit owners were entitled to inspect and copy. That list used to require a comparison of Ch. 703 and Ch. 181 Wis. Stat. Now what is required to be maintained and produced to unit owners is set forth in 703.20 Wis. Stat.  […]

Navigating Differences: Reserve Studies and Structural Integrity Reserve Studies

The core purpose of any reserve study is the same – to serve as a capital expenditure forecasting tool and reserve funding plan to offset such expenditures. These resources provide knowledge on the true cost of ownership for your community and aim to ensure the physical well-being of your association. However, there are some key […]

A Closer Look at The Latest Changes to CAI’s Reserve Study Standards

In March of 2022, a task force of fourteen community association industry experts gathered to begin the process of revising Community Association Institute’s (CAI) Reserve Study (RS) Standards. Originally published in 1998, the RS Standards provide a consistent framework under which reserve study providers and common interest communities should operate in tandem – a necessary […]

Recreational Immunity in Wisconsin – What You Need to Know

The starting point for recreational immunity is to understand that the purpose of the law is to induce property owners to open their land for recreational use. Therefore, recreational users are to bear the risk of the recreational activity. Held v. Ackerville Snow Club, 2007 WI App 43, 300 Wis. 2d 498, 730 N.W.2d 428, […]

Contractual Considerations for Short-Term Rentals

Property owners (“Owners”) interested in engaging in short-term leases should carefully consider the structure of their contracts (“Leases”). Anticipating potential disputes and consequences is essential for avoiding future litigation. A well-written Lease can serve to facilitate friendly, productive, and profitable landlord/tenant relationships.   Read the article………………………..

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 […]

Conflicts of Interest and The Boards Power to Interpret the Governing Documents

Where the governing documents or the statute place the authority to interpret the governing documents with the board, the board’s interpretation will be binding unless unreasonable. However, if a director has a conflict of interest, the director can’t be part of the decision making process or the vote and must recuse herself/himself. Read the article………………………..

7 Things You Need to Know about Emotional Support Animals in 2023

Whether the Association adopted regulations and/or engaged in a “pattern or practice” to prevent or delay approval for residents who qualify for an emotional support animal (“ESA”) to live with them in their apartment.  Read the article………………………..

Long-Lived Assets: The Bottom Line

Long-lived assets or components are those which do not have a predictable remaining useful life, or their replacements are beyond the scope of the reserve study. When conducting a reserve study, one of the first steps your consultant will take is evaluating the inventory of your community’s components and classifying them into groups, with reserve […]

Homeowners Association Notices Now Due (WI)

Attention all homeowners’ and large condominium associations; be sure to review the recently adopted Wis. Stat. §182.01(7) and §710.18, regarding regulation and notice filing requirements for residential lot homeowners’ associations, and Wis. Stat. §703.20(1r) requiring large condominium associations to maintain a website for the condominium association,    Read the article………………………..

Dues, Special Assessments, and Reserves – What’s The Deal?

As you know, dues and special assessments come with the territory of residing in any type of community association. Understandably, it can be confusing for residents to navigate exactly what both of these payments are used for, when they should be used, and how they affect the association as a whole.  Read the article………………………..

Claims for When Developers Have TOO Much Control of Association

Montana Developer of three condominium-hotels at Big Sky Ski Resort sold units subject to Declarations that required “all unit owners to use [Developer], or an agent designated by [Developer], as their exclusive rental agents,” when renting out their condominiums. The Declarations also provided that “Unit owners may decline to renew the rental management contract with […]

Inflation and Reserves: The Implications on Capital Planning

As we all know by now, inflation has moved into our lives and isn’t estimated to move out for about a year or more. While some industries are already seeing some relief, this is not and will not be the case for many other industries for the foreseeable future, including those that community associations rely […]

Recent Changes in the Wisconsin Condominium Ownership Act that Affect Your Association: Record Keeping, Financial Records, Audits, and Website Requirements

In 2022, the Wisconsin legislature adopted additional provisions to the Condominium Ownership Act that affect all Wisconsin condominium associations. Because the new statutes require condominium associations to take affirmative action, your association needs to be aware and get prepared.   Read the article………………………..

Condo and HOA Maintenance: Who is Responsible?

There are many benefits to being a member of a condominium, homeowner (HOA), and townhome community association. By paying assessments, unit owners share the cost for a variety of association expenses including common area maintenance (ex. lobbies, hallways, elevators), amenities (ex. club house, gym, pool), landscaping, utilities, and more.   Read the article………………………..

Using Your Reserve Study As A Budget Tool

With the budget season fast approaching, it’s time to seriously consider your association’s near and long-term financial needs, goals, and ultimately, its future. Capital planning is no easy feat, but having a continuous blueprint for the future is the key to a thriving community.  Read the article…………………………..

Reserve Funding Strategies

Boards and managers who want to ensure adequate funds and avoid shortfalls (or at least get into a better financial position) should familiarize themselves with common reserve funding goals and the strategies to achieve them. As outlined in the National Reserve Study Standards (NRSS), four accepted funding goals are available to community associations.    Read the […]

Managers of Condominiums Who Know or Should Know of Security or Safety Concerns May be Required to Engage in Enhanced Security Measures

The plaintiff, Jody Goldstein, was beaten and robbed, resulting in serious, permanent injuries while staying as a guest at the Chateau Orleans, a combination hotel, timeshare, and condominium facility located in the French Quarter in New Orleans. The defendant, Leisure Management, Ltd. maintained and operated the Chateau. Upon arriving at the Chateau, the plaintiff informed […]

Former Association Member Can’t Sue for Breach of Fiduciary Duty (TX)

In 2014, Kato purchased a unit at an association, thereby becoming a member of the association. Kato also joined the board and became its President/Treasurer. Later that year, Kato’s unit, and two other units in the association were destroyed by fire.   Read the entire article……………………………….

Recording Invalid Documents Gets VERY Expensive

Defendant, Leisure World Community Association (“Association”), consists of nearly two dozen single-family platted communities. One of those is the Plat 24 community. “Each community is governed by its Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs). Plat 24’s original CC&Rs required that at least three-quarters of Plat 24 record owners approve any amendments to the CC&Rs. […]

Record Requests – Even if Lengthy and Difficult to Follow, They Need to Be Produced if Sought for a Proper Purpose

Owner sought records from a Michigan association (the “Association:”). The Association refused to produce records presumably on the grounds that the requests were long, difficult to follow and failed to state a proper purpose. The requests, clarified in the complaint, consisted of the following:  Read the entire article……………………………….

Driveway Easement and Boat Slips – Expensive Fighting (WI)

Two of the three lot owners in a subdivision had a dispute over a driveway easement and boat slips. Lot 2 was contracted to be sold first and it included a driveway easement on Lot 1 and Slip A (the one with the boat lift). When Lot 2 was deeded, however, Slip C was on […]

Seeing Injustice is Easy – Solving Problems is HARD

Many of you may have seen the June 7, 2021, Milwaukee Sentinel story about a Milwaukee area home that was flying two flags: one the US flag and the second a Pride flag. According to the story, the owners were told to take down the Pride flag because the association only allowed the US flag. […]

Lien Priority Statutes and Why They Make Sense

A unit owner stopped paying assessments. The condominium association properly recorded and perfected a lien against the unit for those assessments. Under the applicable Oregon statute, the condo association lien is prior to all other liens, except tax liens and a first mortgage or deed of trust. An exception exists, such that the condominium association […]

Developers/Declarants are Liable for Implied Warranties to Association for Construction Defects

Plaintiff, Brooktree Village Homeowners Association, Inc. (“Association”), filed suit “on behalf of itself and on behalf of its members” in May 2017 against the second developer, Brooktree Village, LLC (“Developer”). Developer had acquired the remaining undeveloped portions of the development, other than the common areas. “A construction company affiliated with Developer, Rivers Development, Inc. (“Builder”), […]

Language in Declaration Makes Association Strictly Liable

Defendant, Castletown Corner Owner’s Association, Inc. (“Association”), had a duty to maintain a lift station. Specifically, the declaration imposed an obligation on the Association to pay “all Maintenance Costs in connection with” improvements constructed at the Association. Maintenance costs are then defined as “all of the costs necessary to maintain the … sewers, utility strips, […]

Dealing with Sophisticated Debtors

Does your condominium or homeowners association (HOA) have owners who don’t pay their assessments? Owners are finding more excuses to avoid paying their assessments. Filing multiple bankruptcies, submitting payments with conditional language, NSF payments, claiming they don’t owe since they don’t use the common elements. . . The list goes on and on.    Read the […]

Tackling Mental Health and Aging Issues in Your Community Association

Mental health issues can impact community associations in a myriad of ways. Often Associations become the “reluctant care provider” (owners have no family/next of kin, or the family “dumped” the owner in the Association rather than in a care facility). This can be true of older residents (“aging-in-place”) as well of younger residents. The COVID […]

Self-Dealing by Director is a Breach of Fiduciary Duty (Case 2)

Carmichael and other unit owners (collectively “Owners”), individually and on behalf of the Association, sued the Officers and the Management company for breaches of fiduciary duties and for unjust enrichment because the Officers caused the Association to provide for the maintenance and preservation of property that was not part of the Association (the retail space […]

Self-Dealing by Director is a Breach of Fiduciary Duty (Case 1)

Plaintiff, Coley, owns a home in an HOA, the Eskaton Village (“Association”). Two other Eskaton named entities (“Eskaton”) develop and support HOAs. A five-member board runs the Association, subject to the Declaration. Eskaton has always controlled three of the five directors on the Association Board because it owns 137 of the 267 units. The three […]

Another Helpful Emotional Support Animal Case

Plaintiff, Cohen (“Tenant”) and Defendant, Clark (another tenant, “Clark”) leased separate apartments in the same building on the same day, July 21, 2006. Both leases prohibited pets in the building or on the premises. Tenant picked the apartment in part because of its no pet policy, as she had a severe allergy to pet dander […]

Improper Amendments Are VERY Expensive

Earlier this year, I blogged on the case of Johnson v. Board of Directors of Forest Lakes Master Association, 454 P.3d 623 (2019) unpublished (Kansas) and explained how improperly passing and/or filing amendments can be VERY expensive. This is true in every state, and today we learn of another way that amendment errors can be […]

Can a Group Home be Built in a Single Family Association under the FHA – YES

Plaintiff, Harmony Haus and a resident, sued Defendant, Parkstone Property Owners Association (“Association”) under the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”) seeking an injunction and attorney fees for violation of the Civil Rights Act. Association counter sued alleging breaches of deed restrictions. Plaintiff is a sober living residence for individuals recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction.    […]

HOA and Condominium Record Retention – What you NEED to Know!! (WI)

Record retention is a tricky subject. Keep too much or for too long and opposing counsel in litigation will have all the documents they may need to prove that your association’s actions were discriminatory or amounted to selective enforcement, at least compared to its old records. Keep to little or for too short of time […]

Rules That Target Children Really Target Your Association

Does your Association have rules that target children? Does your Association have rules that apply differently to children and adult residents within the community? The following case is a cautionary tale for Condominium Associations and HOAs—repeal those rules now, or potentially face a losing battle pursuant to federal law.   Read the article…………………………..

What is the Difference Between Community Association Directors and Officers?

I recently read an article on the difference between condominium and homeowner association officers and directors by an attorney out of Ohio, Jennifer B. Cusimano of Kaman & Cusimano, LLC. It was well written, clarified a subject that is often confused, and inspired me to do my best to explain the difference to our readers.  […]

HOAs & Riparian Rights-Can I Put a Dock Here? (MI)

The dispute in this case centered on what rights owners of lots that did not have frontage on a lake (“Non-Lake Lot Owners”) had to place a dock in the lake based on the restrictive rights for their homeowner’s association (“HOA”) which were recorded in 1922. The HOA consisted of 146 lots. All Non-Lake Lots […]