Condominium Association Law
Condominium associations and their board members are not immune from legal disputes.
Oftentimes, legal counsel is essential to provide guidance and to enforce the documents that govern the condominium association such as the condominium declaration and the condominium rules and regulations.
When issues arise from violations of rules and regulations, disputes can seem unnecessarily complicated.
Favret Carriere Cronvich law firm has the expertise and experience to handle all types of condominium disputes. We have successfully worked with our condominium clients to strategize effective ways to solve condominium disputes before they grow unnecessarily complicated, expensive, and argumentative. Regardless of the nature of a specific dispute, our big-picture goal is to allow the members of the association to live peacefully and without disturbance.
Condominium Association Issues
Like any large-scale, multi-unit residential property, issues can arise on many fronts.
Both unit owners and board members encounter problems regularly.
Below are examples of common issues:
- Improper election of board members
- Lack of enforcement of rules and regulations
- Illegal renting/subletting
- Construction work without any approval
- Collection of unpaid dues and assessments
- Nuisance unit owner or tenants
- Outdated or insufficient condominium declarations and rules.
Delinquent owners are present in many condominium properties.
They can cause disruption for the board and its condominium members.
In some cases, unit owners can be forced to pay special assessments to compensate for expenses caused by other owners or their failure to pay dues, which is not ideal.
To keep the condominium association operating, owners must pay dues for common expenses.
When a major repair becomes necessary or there is shortfall in funds, a special assessment may be issued.
The members of the condominium must help raise the necessary funds in order to operate properly.
Payment issues arise when unit owners fail to pay monthly dues or special assessments.
The Board is responsible for issuing a notice to the nonpaying unit owner that payment is past due.
In addition to the amount due, the notice of nonpayment will include the following expenses:
- Late fees
- Attorney fees
- Legal costs
When an association files a lien against a property, the property owner cannot sell or refinance the unit without first paying the lien. This creates a strong incentive for delinquent owners to pay outstanding balances.
The association, after obtaining a judgment, may foreclose on the property to pay the debt.
Delinquent owners are problematic. They can damage an association’s ability to regulate the entire condominium. The condominium association is a community, and each member is responsible for their share of expenses to keep the community appropriately maintained.
An attorney can advise the association on the steps it should take to enforce the lien.
Depending on the circumstance, your attorney might suggest that the association should take the matter to court or seek payment from the owner directly..
The board is required to enforce collection in order to have the necessary funds to operate and care for the common areas and operations that benefit all unit owners.
One of the most important things is proper condominium governing documents.
When an owner purchases his condominium unit, he or she agrees to pay the monthly dues established by the condominium documents.
Condominium documents also grant the association its remedies to enforce collection. Collection can be accomplished through voluntary or legal means.
The association must also keep accurate records of past due amounts that each delinquent association member owes. This is often referred to as a ledger.
A ledger detailing the owner’s unpaid fees is generally enough evidence to prove the association’s case for collection purposes.
Favret Carriere Cronvich law firm can recommend and walk you through the best approach for enforcing collection.
The first step is always sending notice of nonpayment to the unit owner. If the owner still refuses to pay the balance, the next step is filing a lien against the owner and unit, followed by a lawsuit that results in a money judgment.
If a unit owner refuses to or cannot pay the judgment, it may be necessary to proceed to foreclosure and judicial sale of the unit.
Through this process, the association can recoup some or all of the money owed by seizing and selling the owner’s interest in the unit.
Most associations carry general insurance covering the common areas. Some policies are all-inclusive, while others only cover specific parts of the condominium property. In addition, many associations carry officers’ and directors’ insurance which provides coverage to board members who are sued while acting on behalf of the association.
Most general insurance policies cover the exterior and common areas of the building, but Individual owners still need insurance policies for their units unless the association’s policy covers them as well.
Disputes can arise in situations where unit owners, the association, and their respective insurance companies must sort out who is responsible for a certain loss or damage.
Insurance covers damages caused by the following:
- Wind and hail damage
This list is not exhaustive, and there are also many instances where insurance does not cover damages or the insurance company refuses to provide coverage.
Some examples include:
- Wear and tear
- Flood damage
- Pool repair and maintenance
During the claims process, an insurance company may cover association expenses through direct payment to contractors or by reimbursing the association for its costs.
Associations need to keep a complete and updated inventory of property and its condition should a disaster arise. This should include regularly photographing the condominium complex.
If there is an incident involving the condominium property, the association can file a claim for damages. Prior to filing, the association should contact legal counsel to discuss its insurance coverages in order to have a smooth process.
A condominium association will fail to function well without governing documents.
These documents should grant and describe the rights and powers of the Board and the procedure it should follow for handling the association’s affairs, including hiring contractors and vendors.
Condominium documents should be filed in the public record and bind the unit owners to the provisions.
Condominium Documents should include the following:
- Articles of incorporation
- Declaration of covenants, conditions & restrictions
- Rules and Regulations
Condominium associations hold annual meetings in order to make various decisions for the betterment of the condominium property and its members.
Its purpose is to keep the owners updated and allow for any input its members may have. Often, the annual meetings are when owners will vote on whether to adopt proposed resolutions, rules, and other changes or amendments to the condominium documents.
Here are some of the contracts the condominium association regularly handles on behalf of the association:
- Accountant services
- Property management
Contracts will identify the parties involved and should include a scope of work.
Contracts are more effective if they clearly describe all the terms, compensation, and responsibilities associated with the work or services to be performed.
The association can point to this information if issues arise with any of the parties to the contract to help resolve disagreements quickly and efficiently.
Legal counsel will sort through and handle any of the problems that may arise by enforcing the terms of the contract.
Unit Owner Rights
Unit owners also have rights that the association and board must be mindful of. Owners must know where their dues are going and must have a procedure to voice their concerns.
Condominiums are shared living spaces, and each resident has a responsibility to be aware of their neighbors’ environment.
Constant noise, disruption and nuisances will disrupt the peace and quiet expected in a residential complex and lead to tension and discord among association members.
Legal counsel can help address these issues, whether informally or through available legal remedies.
Examples of unit owner rights include:
- Cleanliness and maintenance of common property
- Pet ownership
- Access to additional amenities and facilities
Favret Carriere Cronvich law firm Is the Legal Representation Your Condominium Association Needs
Condominium documents are intended to maintain civility and peace within the association. However, they cannot account for every potential conflict. Even then, some unit owners intentionally disregard rules and regulations that everyone else is expected to follow.
Those owners who violate the rules can become major problems, and repeated violations often should be addressed through legal action.
We can help with the many issues that condominium associations regularly see.
Condominium associations need professional legal help to effectively handle owners that refuse to heed warnings or complaints about violations of condominium rules.
Here are some examples of issues involving rules violations that we regularly handle:
- Parking issues
- Nuisance (Loud music, improper behavior, and conduct)
- Responsibility disputes
- Unapproved tenants or short-term leases and rentals
- Drafting resolutions to enact additional bylaws and rules and regulations
Our law firm has the expertise, knowledge, and experience to assist with a multitude of condominium association legal issues.
If your condominium association needs legal representation, please do not hesitate to contact us to schedule a consultation.