Collection Agency Agreements: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

Instead of retaining experienced legal counsel, some community associations contract with a collection agency to pursue delinquent assessments without an understanding of the major differences between the two approaches. One purported benefit offered by collection agencies is a “no upfront fees” approach where fees and costs are deferred and only added to the delinquent account…

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Wind Turbines on Community Association Lawns? HB 6304 and Green Overreach

Will association landscapers have to dodge swirling wind turbine blades? Will grass become a quaint relic, replaced by huge arrays of solar panels? Well, probably not. But HB 6304, which was recently introduced in the Michigan House by Representative Neeley, allows us to imagine significant changes to the appearance and character of Michigan homeowner associations…

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Stay on Top of Co-Owners’ Obligation to Insure

Unfortunately, we have witnessed a recent spate of fires that have occurred in various condominiums throughout Michigan. This has reminded us, and the associations that we represent, how important it is to have appropriate provisions in the condominium bylaws requiring co-owners to insure their units, and to enforce those provisions consistently. Some co-owners mistakenly assume…

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Be Careful With Your Bylaw Restrictions

We recently wrote about some homeowners who plainly violated the restrictive covenants in their association’s governing documents when they painted their home blue without submitting an application for approval. Another case involving a blue house from Nebraska recently caught our attention, Estates at Prairie Ridge Homeowners Association v. Korth, 904 N.W.2d 15 (Neb. 2017). However,…

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Homeowners Try to Defend Themselves, Association Brings Them Back to Earth

This one had us shaking our head. Why do some people refuse to seek professional legal guidance when it is obvious that they need it? Few attorneys with any experience in community association law would have advised these homeowners to fight the association in this matter. In Hawthorne Ridge Homeowners Association v. Wang, Not Reported…

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Priority Amendments to Governing Documents

Many Michigan condominium and homeowner association directors want to know how their governing documents might be improved. In our experience, it’s highly likely that just about any community association’s governing documents would benefit from full amendment and restatement. This holds true even for newer developments because developers that draft the governing documents have little incentive…

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View Our Recorded Webinar – Pets in the Community Association

On December 12, 2017, we hosted a webinar, “Pets in the Community Association.” It’s everything you need to know about creating and enforcing pet restrictions in your Michigan condominium or subdivision. Are your current restrictions actually enforceable if challenged, and what accommodations might you have to make to comply with fair housing laws? Follow this link…

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Guns in the Condominium: Rights and Restrictions

We recently examined an interesting question – can an association prohibit co-owners from bringing firearms to meetings of members held in the common elements? There is no case law specifically confirming the answer to this question, but this kind of rule or restriction would likely be defensible if challenged in court. The published legal scholarship…

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Robert Meisner on FOX2 News “Let it Rip” With Charlie Langton

Mr. Meisner discussed a condominium smoking complaint that was recently filed in federal court, notable because it not only alleges a nuisance but also alleges violation of the federal Fair Housing Act by the condominium association. Mr. Meisner appears on a panel with the plaintiff’s attorneys and opines that neither the association nor the management…

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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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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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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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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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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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How Should Community Associations Deal With Smoking?

The Burning Question… By Brian R. Harris, Esq. How to handle smoking in community associations presents a significant dilemma for the community’s board of directors.  That is, whether to side with what tends to be the majority and pursue a ban on smoking on common elements, in individual homes, or both.  Or, whether to side…

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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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Political Signs

Can a Michigan Condominium Association prohibit political signs?

Election season is upon us and political signs are popping up everywhere. While many co-owners believe they have a first amendment right to put up political signs in a condominium, they should think again as a condominium association is not a governmental entity that is required to afford first amendment rights to its co-owners.  While…

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EV

3 Tips for Handling a Co-Owner’s request to install an Electric Vehicle Charging Station

1. Review the Condominium Documents. An electric vehicle charging station (EVCS) will likely need to be located on the common elements or be hooked up to common elements. The condominium documents almost always require Board approval before a co-owner can make a modification to the common elements. The Board should review the condominium documents to determine…

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