Protecting The Community With HOA Insurance

Most HOA’s, especially newer ones, are required by their declarations or bylaws to carry one or more forms of insurance.  Acquiring the necessary coverage and paying premiums is the board’s job, and board-members should take great care to ensure all obligatory coverage remains in place.  If anything goes wrong and the association does not have insurance that it’s supposed to have, board-members or officers could end up on the hook personally. Many states have laws mandating HOA insurance. There are numerous types of insurance coverage which could potentially benefit an HOA, including the three forms required by the UCIOA: physical damage, general liability, and fidelity insurance. 

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HOA Fees: Nourishing A ‘Little Democratic Sub-Society’

A district judge in Florida described community associations as “a little democratic sub-society of necessity.” And, as with federal, state, and local governments, for the “little sub-society” to function, it needs revenue.  Association revenue comes in the form of HOA fees paid by homeowners – the functional equivalent of property taxes paid to a local government. An association’s authority to collect HOA fees (or “assessments”) arises from two places:state law and the HOA’s declaration.The declaration is a document recorded in the county land records that serves as the association’s constitution. It grants certain powers to the HOA and imbues homeowners with certain rights and obligations, one of which is the duty to pay assessments.

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The Do's and Don'ts of HOA Rental Restrictions

Rental restrictions undeniably limit the free-use of property.  Nonetheless, courts throughout the country have consistently upheld such restrictions when rationally calculated to promote the development’s greater good.  Even blanket rental prohibitions have been reluctantly upheld in some states, as long as the association has a legitimate purpose for the restriction. “Legitimate purposes” justifying rental restrictions typically involve maintenance of property values and promotion of community standards. Along with serving a legitimate purpose, to be enforceable a rental restriction must be a “reasonable” means of accomplishing the stated goal. Rental restrictions come in several forms, two of the most popular of which are caps and lease restrictions. 

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Enforcing Pet Restrictions: What's Allowed And What's Not?

Pets can be a welcome addition to your family.  A loyal dog, a comforting cat, or even a calming fish tank can vivify a household and provide a soothing distraction from the daily grind.  But, unfortunately, pets can also occasionally become an annoyance to neighbors.  Overly abundant cats or noisy dogs negatively affect a development’s quality of life and aesthetic appeal.  Aiming to curtail potential nuisances, many homeowners’ associations have adopted pet restrictions within their declarations, establishing rules regulating members’ pet choices and practices. Learn what homeowners' association can (and cannot) do under the law when it comes to enforcing pet restrictions.

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The Service Member’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA) Applies to Homeowners' Associations

Given the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, it is only right that the Congress passed a law in 2003 to assist military members with collections and foreclosure issues. Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), all creditors have limitations on debt collections against active duty military members. These limitations include the temporary suspension of judicial and administrative proceedings and transactions that may affect the civil rights of military members during their service. This article will examine in detail the protections afforded by the law to military members who own properties within homeowners' associations.  

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HUD Significantly Expanded Possible Harassment Liabilities for HOA Boards

As part of the Fair Housing Act, Congress granted the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) the authority to adopt rules to meet the statute’s objectives. In October of 2016, the department completed the formal rulemaking process and published the final rules that are now law. One of the new rules codified by HUD can potentially significantly affect the number of harassment claims an HOA will face. Today we will focus on what might be the most significant new rule: liability for discriminatory housing practices, found at 24 C.F.R. §100.7(a)(1)(iii).

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What to Do if Your HOA Common Areas are not Maintained

Unique to HOAs, the elected board of directors owe a special responsibility to all the dues-paying homeowners, called a fiduciary duty. We have previously written in depth about the different elements of this fiduciary duty, and if you are unfamiliar, that article is certainly worth your time. Simply for this discussion, we just need to know that because of this fiduciary duty that the board owes to member homeowners, the board has a legal obligation to maintain common areas with the same care and diligence that they would apply to their own private property.

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Transferring Power from a Developer to Homeowners in an HOA

Getting in on the ground floor of a new master-planned community is very exciting. If you are fortunate enough to be in such a scenario, you likely now have a budding interest in how the developer of the HOA community will eventually transfer power to the homeowners. In a nascent HOA community, a new homeowner has the option to sit back and permit the developer to govern the community until he sees fit. Yet, this can be risky and may cost you money/time in the long run if there are any complications in the completion of the work.

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How To Find HOA Contact Information and Documents

Finding the homeowners' association linked to a property can sometimes be frustrating and time-consuming. The good news, is that you may not have to drive down to your county's office to retrieve the HOA information you need, thanks to google. This article will attempt to help you save time by giving you step by step instructions and directing you to the right government agencies where the homeowners association information and documentation are usually stored.

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Fight Your HOA the Right Way—Or Else

Today’s homeowner needs to know how to intelligently take on an HOA board if/when such a dispute may arise. As we will soon discuss, the mistaken judgment in pursuit of a claim against a homeowners' association could result in a five-figure legal bill. To assist if you are in such a problematic scenario, we will describe the three concepts you need to master before taking the fight to your homeowners' association: learning your association's CC&Rs, the relevant law regarding your dispute, and how to craftily pursue a resolution with your association's board.

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12 Facts About HOA Liens & Foreclosures You Should Know

The right to record liens, and to foreclose on unpaid liens, is perhaps the most powerful tool homeowners’ associations have to enforce assessment obligations.  State HOA laws are designed to allow associations to recover unpaid fees without undue effort and expense while protecting homeowners from overly aggressive associations by requiring strict compliance with statutory procedures and ample notice to homeowners. 

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Answering Your Most Pressing Homeowners’ Association CC&R Questions

Little did you know when you first got into home ownership that your brain would be flooded with a plethora of new acronyms to comprehend. Whether a dispute has arisen, or you are about to participate in the conveyance of a property that part of an HOA, it is likely you have a now developed a sudden interest in what are termed “covenants, conditions, and restrictions,” knows as CC&Rs.

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What Are HOA Documents?

Too many terms and acronyms are thrown around and used interchangeably when folks are discussing homeowners' association documents. Sometimes when people are referring to the entire suite of homeowners' association documents, they will use the term CC&R, which stands for covenants, conditions, and restrictions. In fact, CC&Rs are just one part of the association's documentation. This article will distinguish CC&Rs from the other documents you need to know including articles of incorporation, bylaws, rules, and regulations, and financial documents.

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Buying and Selling an HOA Property: Let’s Get This Thing Right

Whether you are buying or selling a home that is a party to an association, we know how important it is to complete the transaction the right way so as to not upend the lives of you and your family. Today’s article will provide the guidance you need—either as a buyer or seller—to operate with confidence regarding the home transaction. We will address where these disclosures come from, how they balance the rights of buyers and sellers and clarify once and for all the difference between disclosure and transfer fees.

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Do Members Have The Right to Inspect And Copy HOA Documents?

Homeowners' Association laws vary considerably from state to state.  But the right of homeowners to inspect association documents is uniformly recognized.  After all, as a homeowner, you are a member of the association, and the ultimate purpose of any association is to benefit homeowners.  Just as the shareholders of a corporation have a right to know about the financial status, management, and assets of the business they own, so, too, do HOA members have a right to stay abreast of association budgets, expenditures, and financial transactions.

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Is Your HOA Following the Law with its Enforcement Measures?

The enforcement mechanisms of a homeowners’ association may seem a bit arcane and obtuse, but they are important to understanding if either you or a fellow member is accused by the board of violating the rules. There are very specific duties, obligations, and procedures that the board of directors must follow. We will provide the full explanation you need to understand how and why your board of directors is permitted to assess a fine by addressing why associations are granted the power to enforce Bylaws, the necessary procedure to assess a penalty to enforce the rules, and what is considered a “reasonable” fine under the law.

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A Guide to Architectural Control in Homeowners’ Associations

The ability of a homeowners’ association to regulate certain property details, impose obligations on members, and levy fines is governed by a combination of statutory and case law in the jurisdiction where the association is located and the community's governing documents—including articles of incorporation, bylaws, declarations (also known as CC&Rs—Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions), and rules and regulations, which contractually bind the homeowner association and its members.

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Know the Duties and Responsibilities of Your HOA Board

We all have what we like to think is a general understanding of the basic elements of Homeowners’ Association—there is a president, a board, and a set of rules that these nice people are entrusted to enforce. And the cursory understanding of these elements of an association are perfectly fine, until something happens. Upon the formation of a dispute between a homeowner and a homeowner's association, these seemingly innocuous details will suddenly be anything but.

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The Fiduciary Duties of HOA Board Members

This article will help elucidate what the law requires of an association Board with respect to its obligations toward homeowners. There are three broad categories of fiduciary duties of association Boards that we will discuss: the duty of care, the duty of reasonable inquiry, and the duty of good faith. With each topic, we will first explain general concepts then delve into examples for clarification. These rights for homeowners derive from old English common law (meaning that this law has grown over time through court decisions), but today almost every state has codified these rights into state statutes.

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How the Fair Housing Act Protects Homeowners from Discrimination

Congress initially effectuated the Fair Housing Act (FHA)—codified at 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619—in 1968 to prevent discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion or national origin. By 1988, the FHA had been expanded to protect classes to include sex, disability, and familial status. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in concert with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), brings actions against housing providers that violate the statute.

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