The Five “INs” to Consider About Community Association Legal Counsel

As I have preached for so many years, boards of directors of community associations sometimes think that their job is to spend as little money at whatever cost. This carries over to the retention of legal counsel, and sometimes, their decision is prompted by a misguided simple comparison of billing rates alone and/or an affiliation…

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Foreclosure by Advertisement and the FDCPA

In most circumstances, we at The Meisner Law Group have found that the best recommended option to pursue foreclosure on a property for delinquent assessments is a judicial action as opposed to nonjudicial foreclosure by advertisement. Now, there is even more reason to prefer judicial action, as a recent decision concerning the federal Fair Debt…

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Michigan Condominiums Can’t Get a Break

Consumer interests are simply not a priority in our state legislature. This is readily apparent with respect to legislation affecting Michigan’s condominium communities over the past few years. Certain well-funded special interests have backed efforts to oppose condominiums’ interests in our legislature, and our state’s lack of business interest disclosure requirements means that our legislators…

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Board Members Expected to Have Thick Skin

Contentious elections of an association’s board of directors can result in some serious allegations against candidates being communicated to an association’s members. “The board is wasting our money!” “He’s lazy and doesn’t want to do anything!” “She’s horrible at this!” While board members and candidates may feel wronged by inaccurate or false statements, they should…

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Appeals Court Confirms Subdivisions Not Subject to Michigan Condominium Act

Some people think they might be able to save money in litigation with their community association by representing themselves, without an attorney. In legal terms, they appear in propia persona, or “pro per”. A recent unpublished appellate court decision, Brock v. Winding Creek Homeowners Association, et al. (Not Reported in N.W.2d, 2017 WL 1488994), is…

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Don’t Forget Which Months Have 31 Days

Your condominium’s or subdivision’s governing documents likely contain many provisions setting forth certain windows of time or deadlines by which certain actions must be taken, for example, giving notices of member meetings, taking action without a meeting, or responding to architectural modification requests. These deadlines will be enforced strictly by the courts in litigation, so it’s…

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Oppose HB 4446 – Unfair to Condo Associations

As regular readers of our blog will recall, we have provided extensive analysis of HB 4919 (2015), which was introduced in the prior legislative session. While the initial version of the legislation was positive, unfortunately it was later amended such that the bill actually represented a threat for certain Michigan condominium associations. Now, that amended version…

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Upcoming Educational Seminars for Directors, Co-owners and Managers

Introduction to Successful Community Association Operation is a four week course designed for Michigan condominium and homeowner association officers and directors, managers, developers and individual owners. Seminar attendees will gain valuable insight on a wide range of legal topics. All attendees receive a complimentary copy of Robert Meisner’s white paper, Condominium Operation: Getting Started and Staying…

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Support SB 64 / HB 4345 – Disclosure of Business Interests

More Open Government Would Benefit Community Associations Too often, we have seen clearly equitable and fair state legislation that would be beneficial to Michigan’s community associations get stalled and wither on the vine, whereas legislation which is counter to community associations’ interests, spearheaded by well-funded for-profit special interests, tends to sail through with little objection. We have reason to believe…

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More Icy Slip-Fall Claims Fail to Find Their Footing

Two more recent unpublished Michigan appellate court decisions have been finalized which provide further examples where individual condominium co-owners and their invitees have been held to a high level of responsibility to ensure their personal safety when traversing the condominium’s common elements, even in the case of “black ice”. Zimmer v. Harbour Cove on the…

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Defining “Replacement”, “Addition”, and “Maintenance”

A new unpublished Michigan Court of Appeals decision provides an instructive example of how courts will sometimes use a simple dictionary in order to determine what words mean. In MJ Development Company, Inc. v. Inn at Bay Harbor Association (Not reported in N.W.2d, 2017 WL 726591), the decision was based on the following bylaw provisions: (a) Should…

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It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, No, It’s a Drone!

With the exponential rise in the popularity of drones (technically referred to as “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles”) over the past few years for personal use, as well as current testing by businesses like Amazon for commercial delivery to residences, the federal government and many states, including our state government in Michigan, have taken the first steps…

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Condo Co-owner Magician Failed to Impress in Icy Slip-Fall Case

Although Michigan’s winter of 2016-2017 has been relatively mild so far, this is usually the season when attorneys see an increase in slip and fall accident claims due to snow and ice. However, Michigan case law that developed over the past few years makes it increasingly clear that individuals are generally responsible for their safety as pedestrians,…

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Oppose HB 4015 – “Annual Budget Meeting” of Co-Owners and More

Last year, we posted information about Michigan House Bill 5655 and asked our readers to write their legislators in opposition. Subsequently, we were led to believe that the author of the bill, Representative Peter Lucido, did not plan to pursue it any further, but unfortunately he has reintroduced the same legislation in this year’s 2017…

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New Michigan Law Confirms Landlords May Ban Medical Marijuana Smoking

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has signed SB 72 into law, which should be effective on or about April 10, 2017, codifying part of a 2011 opinion by the State Attorney General. SB 72 has added the following (bold text) to the state statute created by the previous voter-initiated legislation on medical marijuana: “Nothing in this act…

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Michigan Condo Learns Hard Lesson in Statutes of Limitations

Two Months Late and Thousands of Dollars Short A recent appellate decision in the matter of Center Street Lofts Condominium Ass’n v. Center Street Partners, L.L.C. et al. (Not Reported in N.W.2d, 2016 WL 7496614) provides an example of how a failure to promptly pursue a claim can lead to expiration of applicable statutes of limitations, which in…

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Fair Debt Collection Requirements Must Be Followed Strictly

A recent decision in Essique v. Walnut Woods Condominium Association, No. 2:15-CV-12049, 2016 WL 7337246 (E.D. Mich. Dec. 19, 2016) is a good example of how important it is to strictly comply with the requirements of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Following is the judge’s summary of the requirements pertinent to the case…

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Appeals Court Interprets “Residential Use” to Exclude Transient Leasing

An interesting case was recently decided by a Texas Court of Appeals in the matter of Tarr v. Timberwood Park Owners Association, Inc., No. 04-16-00022-CV (Tex. App. Nov. 16, 2016). Timberwood Park’s governing documents stated that the homes in the subdivision were to be used exclusively for residential purposes but did not contain any specific prohibition…

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Everyone Knows the Condo King

By Robert M. Meisner, Esq. During a recent trip to Naples, Florida, I happened to encounter a gentleman at a fitness club who informed me that he was one of the major developers in the Lake Orion community that constructed the developments around one of our firm’s association clients, which we have represented for over…

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HAM Radio Antenna Bill Not Approved By Senate, But Stay Tuned

The Government Affairs arm of the Community Associations Institute (CAI) reported today that federal bill H.R. 1301 was not approved by the U.S. Senate. Proponents of the bill have lost this round, but the final outcome remains to be seen. The bill faced stiff opposition in the senate from Senator Bill Nelson. However, the sponsor…

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3 Reasons Your Community Association Assessments Are Too Low

When we speak with directors and other leaders from Michigan community associations, especially those from homeowners associations and subdivisions, we hear some common refrains when discussing the inadequacy of their regular monthly assessment/dues amounts. The Board may be fully aware that income is not sufficient to meet projected future costs, but for many reasons, the…

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Owner Occupancy Requirements Change for the FHA Certification Process

On October 26, 2016, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) changed the owner occupancy requirements under the FHA certification process for condominiums, effective immediately. This was done in response to general guidelines for changes provided by federal bill H.R. 3700, the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act, which was signed into law earlier this year. Follow this link…

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The 10 Things You Must Know Before Hiring Community Association Management

Most management companies recognize that in this dog-eat-dog world, marketing and advertising are extremely important in order to attract community association clients. In the old days, it was always the cheapest management company that had a leg up on getting the account. Nowadays, community associations tend to be more sophisticated in deciding which management company…

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New Fair Housing Act Rule Effective October 14, 2016

We were alarmed when we first read the Community Association Institute’s (CAI) blog post regarding a new Fair Housing Act rule that is effective as of October 14, 2016. Of particular concern was the following statement: Under the rule, community associations may be liable under the Fair Housing Act for the discriminatory actions of residents who harass…

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Are You Observing Constitutional Rights in Disciplinary Hearings?

Boards of directors of community associations (and, unfortunately, even the attorneys advising them) will sometimes mistakenly believe that co-owners are not entitled to certain Constitutional rights of due process with respect to disciplinary hearings. They might warn a co-owner not to bring their attorney to a hearing or not allow an owner to cross-examine witnesses,…

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When the Inmates Take Over the Asylum and a Good Board Loses Control

Those of us who have been involved in representing community associations (in my case, for over forty-five years) have, no doubt, experienced a situation where so-called dissidents in a community association, for clearly irrational reasons, strive to seize control of the association so they can further their “platform”, which frequently leads to the demise of…

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Support Michigan Community Associations With Your Vote

In deciding whom to support in the upcoming elections this fall, you may wish to consider those state representatives on both sides of the aisle who voted against the 2015 amendments to the Nonprofit Corporation Act. Similarly, please consider opposing those representatives who voted for the amendments. (State senators will not be elected this year.) As further…

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$500 Limit for Incidental Damage Applied in District Court Ruling

Attorney Brian Harris of The Meisner Law Group recently appeared at trial on behalf of one of our long-standing community association clients, and he successfully argued for application of a $500 limit on “incidental damage” set forth in the condominium’s Bylaws. The judge correctly applied the limit to the plaintiff’s damages. Incidental damage is usually defined, as in…

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Federal Housing Administration Certification for Condominiums

Good news for condominium associations throughout the nation – the National Chapter of Community Associations Institute (CAI) reports that H.R. 3700, the Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act, has been signed into law by the President. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will be required under the legislation to make the following changes to the FHA’s condominium approval process:…

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Opting Out of Condo Association Audit Requirements – Good or Bad?

Michigan condominium associations with annual revenues greater than $20,000 are required under the Michigan Condominium Act to submit their financial records for an annual audit or review by a Certified Public Accountant. However, many condominium associations do not know that the co-owners may vote to opt out of this requirement on an annual basis, by…

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Oppose Senate Bill 610 Regarding Development of Michigan Condos

The Meisner Law Group, P.C. strongly opposes Senate Bill 610 because it undermines the rights of co-owners to ensure that a developer will complete the condominium project in a timely fashion. That is why Section 67 of the Condominium Act was adopted, and the fact that developers have in some instances been unable to develop condominiums within…

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