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Michigan Condo & HOA Articles Archive

/ Owner - July 1, 2012
  • Key Rulings for Condominium Associations in Square Lake Hills Association v Russel Garland and Highlander Group MMC, Inc. (MI)
    On March 23, 2023, the Michigan Court of Appeals decided several important issues in favor of Michigan condominium associations. In Square Lake Hills Association v Russel Garland and Highlander Group MMC, Inc et al, unpublished opinion of the Court of Appeals, (Docket No. 360405), the Court of Appeals made the following rulings:   Read the article…………………………….
  • HOA Transitions from Declarant to Homeowner Controlled Boards
    Transitioning an association from a developer-controlled Board to a homeowner-controlled Board can be a complex process with various challenges. However, with careful planning and execution, it can be a smooth and successful endeavor. In this guide, we’ll explore the essential steps and considerations for the newly elected HOA Board members to ensure a seamless transition,   Read the article…………………………….
  • How to Fix the Roads in your Condo or HOA: Increase Assessments or A Special Assessment District? (MI)
    The majority of new residential condominium and subdivision developments in the State of Michigan are established with private roads. When a new condominium project or subdivision is established with private roads, the roads are typically identified as a “common element” or a “common area” and are owned collectively by all members of the applicable condominium or homeowners association. When roads are private, the responsibility for the costs of maintenance, repair, and replacement of the roads typically lies with the condominium or subdivision association and is paid for out of assessments that are levied against the members.     Read the article…………………………….
  • MCL 599.211: Who Is on the Hook for Those Unpaid Assessments? (MI)
    Imagine this. After weeks, months, or maybe even years of searching, you finally found the condo unit of your dreams and have decided to make it your own. There’s only one issue—unpaid condo association assessments on the unit. Fear not, the Michigan Condo Act provides clarity on matters of this sort.   Read the article…………………………….
  • Court Rules that Restrictive Covenant Banning Sex Offenders is Enforceable
    Can your HOA’s restrictive covenants or condominium documents ban sex offenders? The ability to ban sex offenders from homeowners associations has become a controversial issue in recent years. Until recently, many attorneys across the country believed that some type of ban on sex offenders was permissible. This was largely based on a New Jersy case, Mulligan v. Panther Valley Property Owners Association, 766 A2d 1186 (2001), in which the Court upheld a community association’s sex offender restriction that banned Tier 3 sex offenders from occupying, but not owning, in a homeowners association.   Read the article…………………………….
  • The 2018 Amendment to the Michigan Marketable Record Title Act Goes Into Effect on March 29, 2024: Does Your HOA or Condo Association Need to Record a Notice?
    Michigan’s Marketable Record Title Act, MCL 565.101, et seq. (the “MRTA”), has been around since 1945, yet many homeowners associations are unaware of the MRTA and its potentially devastating impact on their communities. This article provides a brief background on the MRTA and its 2018 amendment that opened the door to the possible extinguishment of restrictive covenants across the state of Michigan. Read the article…………………………….
  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: A New Era of Transparency for Homeowners
    In a significant shift towards transparency, Fannie Mae, the Federal National Mortgage Association, has recently announced that it will make its once-secret “Condo Unavailable Projects and Phases Report” accessible to the public. The decision to make this report publicly available reflects a broader industry trend towards transparency, acknowledging the pivotal role that information plays in empowering consumers and fostering a healthy housing market. Its counterpart Freddie Mac, meanwhile, will roll out new guidelines by early 2024 that will enable condos ineligible for financing to appeal their status.    Read the article…………………………….
  • Deck the Halls, Mind the Rules: Navigating Association Decorations Restrictions with Holiday Cheer (MI)
    ‘Tis the season to stow away the skeletons, pumpkins, and witches, and usher in the festive spirit with twinkling lights, wreaths, and snowmen. As the allure of multicolored lights and decorations brightens the early darkness, residents of condominium associations need to align their festive expressions with community rules. For association boards and property managers, enforcing rules and regulations requires a delicate balance, especially during the holiday season.   Read the article…………………………
  • Navigating the CTA: A Guide for Condos and HOAs to comply with the Corporate Transparency Act (MI)
    The Corporate Transparency Act is a federal law that was enacted in 2021 to stop individuals in foreign countries from illegally moving money into the United States. The Corporate Transparency Act creates new reporting requirements for certain types of corporate entities in the United States. The Federal Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”), is the federal agency that is charged with enforcing the Corporate Transparency Act and has adopted a set of reporting requirements for corporate entities, including most community associations, that must be complied with beginning in 2024.    Read the article……………………………………
  • Can A Michigan Condominium Association Collect Attorney Fees for Bylaw Violations?
    In Michigan, the responsibility for attorney fees and costs in litigation typically lies with the parties involved. Following the ‘American rule,’ attorney fees are not recoverable unless expressly allowed by statute, court rule, common-law exception, or contract. Dessart v. Burak, 470 Mich. 37, 42, 678 N.W.2d 615 (2004); Grace v. Grace, 253 Mich.App. 357, 370–371, 655 N.W.2d 595 (2002),” Reed v Reed, 265 Mich App 131, 164; 693 NW2d 825 (2005).      Read the article……………………………
  • What Every Condo or HOA Needs To Know About Emotional Support Animals (MI)
    Over the last several years, emotional support animals have been a continuous source of speculation and confusion for many Michigan condo and HOA boards. We all have seen the news stories of individuals attempting to bring animals such as squirrels and even alligators into places of public accommodation under the claim that they are emotional support animals. Many will read these stories and chuckle, brushing off these claims as nonsensical; however, when Michigan condo and HOA boards receive a request for an emotional support animal, it is no laughing matter.   Read the article…………………………
  • What You Need to Know About Handling Conflicts of Interest on Your Michigan Condo Board
    A condominium association is governed by its board of directors. In Michigan, it is common that members of a board of directors are uncompensated volunteers. It is also common that co-owners elect board members who have a particular set of skills or knowledge relevant to running a condominium, whether that be knowledge of accounting, construction, or management. When a condominium association needs a contractor or other business to assist with condominium duties, a director may be inclined to suggest a contractor or business that they are familiar with.   Read the article…………………………….
  • Michigan Condominium Act Amendments: Enhancing Financial Transparency and Security for Condo Associations
    In an effort to strengthen the financial stability of condominium associations in Michigan, the state legislature has introduced a bill to amend the Condominium Act of 1978. This amendment, specifically targeting section 105 (MCL 559.205), aims to enhance the financial accountability and security of condo associations across the state.   Read the article……………………………
  • Condominium Association Funds and Capital Projects: Walsh v Hawthorn Hills Owners of Rochester, Inc. (MI)
    Boards of Directors of community associations are often charged with the responsibility of maintaining the capital assets of the corporation and administering the community itself. This responsibility involves difficult decisions regarding the spending and raising of association funds, especially when it comes to capital improvement projects.    Read the article…………………………….
  • Is Your Community Association Prepared for the Corporate Transparency Act? (MI)
    Congress passed the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) in January 2021 to provide law enforcement agencies with further tools to combat financial crime and fraud. The CTA requires certain legal entities (each, a “reporting company”) to report, if no exemption is available, specific information about themselves, certain of their individual owners and managers (“beneficial owners”), and certain individuals involved in their formation (“company applicants”) to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the U.S. Department of Treasury.   Read the article………………………….
  • The Impact Of The Corporate Transparency Act On Condominium Associations, Homeowners Associations, And Management Companies
    In a world where transparency and accountability have become paramount in both public and private sectors, the U.S. government has taken significant steps to address financial secrecy and prevent illicit activities through the implementation of the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA). The CTA, signed into law in January 2021, is primarily aimed at increasing transparency in corporate entities.  Read the article……………………………..
  • New Proposed Michigan Bill Will Require Condominiums Conduct Reserve Studies
    HB 5019 is a new bill pending in the Michigan House that will require condominium associations in the state to conduct periodic reserve studies to help plan for future repairs and replacements. The Community Associations Institute’s Michigan Legal Action Committee fully supports this bill and is undertaking efforts to gain legislative support.   Read the article………………………………
  • Slip & Fall Case at the Michigan Supreme Court
    The Michigan Supreme Court (MSC) will hear oral arguments in 12 cases on Wednesday, November 8, 2023, and Thursday, November 9, 2023, beginning at 9:30 a.m. on both days in the 6th floor courtroom at the Michigan Hall of Justice at 925 W. Ottawa, Lansing.  Oral arguments will be livestreamed from the MSC website.  Wednesday, November 8, 2023 Morning Session – 9:30 a.m. DAOUD MOUSA JANINI and FERYAL Howard Radner JANINI, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v (Appeal from Ct of Appeals) (Wayne CC – Hathaway, D.) LONDON TOWNHOUSES CONDOMINIUM Nathan Scherbarth ASSOCIATION, Defendant-Appellee, and JAMES PYDA, Defendant. _________________________________________________ The plaintiffs sued London Townhouses Condominium Association for injuries sustained by Daoud Mousa Janini when he fell on an allegedly snow- and ice-covered sidewalk in the defendant’s development. The plaintiffs own and reside in a condominium unit that is ...
  • HB 5028: Solar Energy Bill And Michigan’s Community Associations
    The Homeowners’ Energy Policy Act was recently introduced in the Michigan State Legislature as HB 5028. This bill would force community associations to accept installation of energy-saving devices like clothes lines, heat pumps, insulation, rain barrels, reflective roofing, efficient appliances and windows, electric vehicle charging equipment, etc.   Read the article……………………………….
  • How To Deal With The Rogue Board Member (MI)
    The Board of Directors is charged with making the important decisions of the association. Whether it’s hiring a management company to deal with the day-to-day affairs of the association or making the tough decision to pass an additional assessment to cover the cost of an improvement, the actions of the Board affect every member of the association. Many, if not most, Boards get along famously. But there are Boards that don’t get along. Often, the cause of strife is easily identifiable: the Rogue Board Member.    Read the article……………………………….
  • Red Flags in Green Legislation: SB 558 and HB 5028 may ban Michigan HOA’s from regulating Solar Panels and other Energy Saving Improvements
    The Michigan legislature has recently introduced two bills that would limit the ability of condominium and homeowners associations to exercise architectural control authority within their communities related to energy-saving improvements. SB 558 was introduced on October 4, 2023, and it may prohibit certain Michigan community associations from banning solar panels, except in cases where the proposed installation was on a common element or common area.   Read the article………………………………….
  • Til Death Do Us Part, Or Do We?: Collecting Community Association Assessments from a Deceased Owner in Michigan
    As the population of their communities age, Community Associations will be faced with the question of who is responsible for payment of Association assessments when an Owner passes away. This article examines the various scenarios when an Owner passes away and the steps an Association should and can take to recover unpaid assessments.    Read the article……………………………..
  • Master-Planned Communities Associations vs. Sub Master Associations: Understanding the Differences
    Master-planned communities are large housing developments that typically feature various neighborhoods, sub-divisions, recreational facilities, amenities, and possibly multiple builders. They also usually represent a blend of lifestyle, convenience, and quality living, offering residents a variety of housing options.    Read the article……………………………..
  • Should Your Condo Association Allow Ring Doorbell Cameras? (MI)
    For better or for worse, we live in a society where security cameras are everywhere. With the rise of technology companies such as Amazon and Google, security cameras are now available to the average consumers. For under $200.00, anyone can now buy a doorbell camera that can record high-definition video (day or night) and audio with noise cancellation. Coming from someone with a doorbell camera, they can be very useful to talk with a delivery person while out of the house,    Read the article………………………..
  • Can a New Capital Project be Paid by Annual Assessments – YES (MI)
    Issue: Did a project to install street lighting (where none previously existed) require a special assessment or could it be part of the annual budget?  Read the article………………………..
  • Guidelines for Preparing Your Association Budget
    Preparing an annual budget is essential for the financial stability of community associations. However, not all associations know how to effectively create an association budget. To help you with this task, here are some guidelines that will make preparing your budget a straightforward process:   Read the article………………………..
  • Protecting Your Investment from Costly Building Code Violations Following Galvan Ruling (MI)
    In a breach of warranty deed claim, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in favor of the sellers of a condominium unit and unanimously decided on July 12, 2023, in Galvan v Poon that a building code violation discovered after the closing that had not been subject to any official enforcement action at the time of the conveyance does not constitute an “encumbrance” under MCL 565.151.   Read the article………………………..
  • Reconsidering The “Open And Obvious” Doctrine: Implications Of The Michigan Supreme Court’s Landmark Decision
    In a significant ruling that affects property owners throughout the state, including Michigan’s community associations, the Michigan Supreme Court substantially altered premises liability law. On July 28, 2023, the Court ruled in the cases of Kandil-Elsayed v. F & E Oil, Inc. and Pinsky v. Kroger, overturning the long-established “open and obvious” doctrine.   Read the article………………………..
  • Enhancing Community Safety and Financial Planning: New Reserve Study Standards
    Community Associations play a vital role in managing and maintaining the shared assets of their members. However, ensuring the safety and longevity of these properties requires meticulous planning and budgeting. In response to the tragic incident at Champlain Towers South, the Community Associations Institute (CAI) has taken decisive steps to promote safer and financially sound buildings.   Read the article………………………..
  • Michigan Court of Appeals Holds that Short-Term Rentals Violate Residential Use Restrictions
    Since 2004, the Michigan Court of Appeals has repeatedly determined that short-term rentals within Michigan communities that are subject to residential, business, and commercial restrictions are prohibited because they are commercial activities that are inconsistent with residential use   Read the article………………………..
  • What your Condo Association Needs to Know About the New Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Lending Guidelines
    The Surfside condominium collapse led to significant reform in the condominium lending industry. In Lender Letter LL-2021-14, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac implemented temporary lending guidelines in 2021 for condominium purchasers that desired to secure a mortgage as was previously discussed in Prepare your Condo for the new Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Lending Requirements. At the request of FHFA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac implemented additional condominium lending guidelines on July 5, 2023, in Selling Guide Announcement, SEL-2023-06. As will be discussed in greater detail below, the major changes to the condo lending guidelines are as follows:   Read the article………………………..
  • Primer on Fines and Suspension in Covenant Enforcement
    Enforcing violations in a community association can be cumbersome, contentious and unneighborly. Depending on the nature and severity of the violation, the association may be able to exercise self-help and cure a violation such as overgrown grass. Alternatively, in severe situations, the association may be forced to pursue an emergency injunction.   Read the article………………………..
  • Is a Michigan Condo or HOA Liable for Criminal Acts of Third-Parties?
    Whether there is an increase in violent crime or an increase in reporting and coverage of crime, it seems that our lives are constantly being inundated and interrupted with reports of violent activities. Your home is your castle, your safe space. But imagine the worst-case scenario where a crime occurs and that sense of safety is lost. After dealing with the direct results of the crime, an owner may look to hold their condominium or homeowners association responsible in some way. Not directly for the crime, but for failing to protect against the criminal acts of a third party.    Read the article………………………..
  • Can You Pay Directors and Officers of a Michigan Condominium or Homeowners Association?
    It is common for a condominium association’s master deed and bylaws or a homeowners association’s declaration to address compensating board members. Usually, such a provision will either expressly disallow any compensation or only allow compensation if approved by a specified percentage of the community association’s members. Apart from the general notion that board members should be made up of volunteers that are interested in helping the condominium or subdivision, why is it important or desirable for an association’s directors and officers to be volunteers?    Read the article………………………..
  • Proposed Federal Legislation Aims to Broaden FEMA Disaster Assistance for Community Associations
    FEMA is a federal program that assists homeowners and municipalities with recovering from disasters. FEMA funds are available for restoration of a single family home in the event of a disaster when insurance proceeds are exhausted or the damage was not insured. FEMA funds may be used for roof repair, HVAC repair, electrical box repair, entry and egress restoration, etc. in a single family home. Current FEMA legislation only allows for funds to be utilized to repair the interior of a condominium unit.   Read the article………………………..
  • Your Accountant Wants You To Know About Section 57 Of The Condo Act (MI)
    Condominium associations with annual revenues exceeding $20,000.00 should take specific note that Section 57(2) of the Michigan Condominium Act provides that an independent certified public accountant must perform an annual review or audit of the association’s financial documents, including its books, records, contracts, and financial statements.    Read the article………………………..
  • Delayed Decisions On Accommodation Requests Lead To Trouble
    A recent federal court decision in U.S. v. The Dorchester Owners Association, No. 20-1396 (E.D. Penn. Jan. 25, 2023), is instructive as to how boards of directors can put their associations at risk when they fail to make timely final decisions on accommodation requests or impose unreasonable conditions in granting those requests. In this case, the requests were for emotional support animals, but the lessons learned here apply to any request for an accommodation under the Fair Housing Act (FHA).   Read the article………………………..
  • Can a Michigan Condominium or Homeowners Association Ban a Thin Blue Line Flag?
    Although the history of the term “thin blue line” can be traced back to the mid-1800s, the term gained national popularity in the 1950s through Los Angeles Police Chief Bill Parker’s statement that the Los Angeles Police Department was the thin blue line that acted as a barrier between law and order on one side and civil anarchy on the other side. In recent years, the thin blue line has become a symbol used to show support for police departments and officers.  Read the article………………………..
  • How to Address E-Bike Fire Risks in Community Associations (MI)
    E-bikes have become a widely used means of transportation in the United States, especially in metropolitan areas. There are a number of advantages to e-bikes, including their ease of use, affordability, and the reduced amount of carbon emissions as an alternative to gas-powered vehicles. E-bikes can make large portions of a metropolitan area accessible in ways that non-electrified bicycles or even passenger vehicles simply cannot.    Read the article………………………..
  • Your Accountant Wants You To Know About Section 57 Of The Condo Act (MI)
    Condominium associations with annual revenues exceeding $20,000.00 should take specific note that Section 57(2) of the Michigan Condominium Act provides that an independent certified public accountant must perform an annual review or audit of the association’s financial documents, including its books, records, contracts, and financial statements. Specifically, Section 57 provides as follows:    Read the article………………………..
  • Michigan Court Rules That Deck Installed in Violation of HOA Restrictions Must Be Removed
    Don’t sweat the small stuff. While it may be a good tip for reducing stress in your life, it is almost certainly not a good tip when it comes to following the governing documents for your condo or HOA. In fact, ensuring that all of the rules are followed—yes, all the small things—may in fact reduce your overall stress by avoiding a potential lawsuit. And for HOAs and condo associations, ensuring that the owners follow all the rules can lead to an efficient and well-run association   Read the article………………………..
  • What happens when homeowners want to be more “green” than their HOA allows them to be?
    If you’re looking to move this spring, one of the top considerations for your new place may be whether or not the area is governed by a Homeowners Association (HOA).  Homeowners Associations are organizations with jurisdiction over a neighborhood, such as a subdivision, condo building, or townhouse complex. Those who purchase property within the bounds of an established HOA are typically obliged to become dues-paying members of the organization and to live by its rules.   Read the article………………………..
  • HOA Board Member Roles
    As a homeowner in a community governed by a homeowners association (HOA), commonly referred to as a Community Association, you may be curious about the roles and responsibilities of the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors are elected by the association members to serve as their representatives and make decisions on behalf of the community.    Read the article………………………..
  • Underfunded Reserves? How your Condominium Association Can Qualify for a Community Association Loan (MI)
    Nearly 2 years after the Surfside collapse, the New York Times recently reported that a 35-unit condominium in North Bay Village, Florida was ordered to be evacuated after an engineer deemed the condominium to be structurally unsound. The engineering report provided to North Bay Village officials indicated that the Majestic Isle Condominium had serious structural issues due to termites and sagging floors. The evacuation of the Majestic Isle Condominium, which was built in 1960, is not the only safety-related evacuation since the Surfside collapse, as multiple other older condominiums that have not been properly maintained have been subject to evacuation orders as well.   Read the article………………………..
  • Grabbing the Bull by the Horns
    At times, serving on an association board can leave members feeling overwhelmed and underappreciated. To keep an association operating smoothly, board members must continually address both new and timeworn challenges with vision, diplomacy, efficiency and financial ingenuity.   Read the article………………………..
  • Michigan Court Rules Condo Association Did Not Wrongfully Foreclose
    A necessary component of running a functional condo association is the collection of delinquent maintenance assessments. While many condo associations can yield account resolution through a demand letter and/or recording a lien against the unit, some delinquent accounts may require the initiation of foreclosure, which is provided for by Michigan Condominium Act, MCL 559.101, et seq.   Read the article………………………..
  • Delayed Decisions On Accommodation Requests Lead To Trouble
    A recent federal court decision in U.S. v. The Dorchester Owners Association, No. 20-1396 (E.D. Penn. Jan. 25, 2023), is instructive as to how boards of directors can put their associations at risk when they fail to make timely final decisions on accommodation requests or impose unreasonable conditions in granting those requests.  Read the article………………………..
  • Michigan Court of Appeals Reaffirms that Right to Construct “Need Not Be Built” Units Can Be Lost Under MCL 559.167
    Since 2016, one particular section within the Michigan Condominium Act has been the source of repeated litigation in Michigan trial and appellate courts – Section 67, or MCL 559.167. When initially enacted, MCL 559.167 was designed to curtail the problem of Michigan condominium projects that began construction but, for one reason or another, never ended up being completed. MCL 559.167 set a deadline by which the construction of a condominium project had to be completed and, from 2002 through 2016, MCL 559.167 provided that upon the expiration of that deadline, any “need not be built” units that still had not been constructed automatically became general common element land collectively owned by a condominium’s co-owners.   Read the article………………………..
  • Real Property — Water leak — Condominium (MI)
    The owner of a condominium unit asserted claims for breach of contract and negligence arising from damages to his unit from a water leak and the condominium association’s refusal to allow him to store a boat on the condominium premises; he failed to establish a question of fact whether the leak resulted from a breach of the association’s obligations under the condominium bylaws.   Read the article………………………..
  • Should your Condo or HOA use ChatGPT to reduce legal expenses? (MI)
    A recent survey by the Community Associations Institute’s Foundation for Community Research reported that 91% of community association managers and HOA board members reported seeing unexpected increases in operating expenses due to inflation. While cost increases are inevitable, it appears that condominium and homeowners associations are dealing with the increased expenses in different ways.    Read the article………………………..
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