Condominium Document Review Including FHA Certification: The Legal Essentials

Our Traverse City evening seminar fall date is set for Thursday, October 18, 2018 at Northwestern Michigan College. This in-depth course will address state of the art condominium association documents to take advantage of changes in the law and changing trends, including FHA certification requirements and the Michigan Nonprofit Corporation Act changes. Learn how to…

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Introduction to Successful Community Association Operation

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 booklet, Community Association Operation: Getting Started and Staying…

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Dept. of Veterans Affairs Makes Site Condo Approval Easier

“Effective immediately, site condominiums in the state of Michigan will be processed in the same manner as a single family detached residence. VA will no longer review legal documentation for site condominiums. Lenders will be responsible for ensuring that any site condominium proposed as collateral for a VA-guaranteed loan meet requirements for the state of…

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Senators Push for Federal Housing Administration Certification Reform

“FHA’s current condominium rules place significant restrictions on the purchase and sale of condominiums, even though they are the most affordable homeownership option for first-time buyers, small families, urban and older Americans. Importantly, condominiums also offer residents access to the amenities, services, and public transportation that build stronger communities and promote sustainable homeownership.” The above…

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Federal H.R. 5082 Would Support Delinquent Assessment Collection

In the course of representing Michigan community associations in delinquent assessment collection matters, community association attorneys must be extremely careful to comply with the requirements of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The FDCPA’s purpose is to protect debtors from devious methods of debt collection that may be employed by third party debt collectors,…

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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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SB 914 – Majority Board Decisions Without a Meeting; Electronic Delivery; Records Requests

Senator David Robertson has introduced a new proposed amendment to the Condominium Act, which has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Local Government. SB 914 would make the following changes: For any documents or information mentioned in the Condominium Act or the condominium documents, the association may deliver those documents or information to an…

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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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SB 741 Prohibits Local Government from Regulating Dog Breeds

By Joyleih and Sophia, the Legal Beagles – New legislation was introduced in Michigan’s Senate in January, which simply reads as follows: “Sec. 1. (1) A local unit of government shall not enact or enforce an ordinance, policy, resolution, or rule that regulates a dog based upon breed or perceived breed. However, this act does…

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Massachusetts Gets it Right Regarding Anti-Litigation Provisions

We have previously written about Michigan HB 4446, advocating for removal of the exemption for developers in the bill, or in the alternative, abandoning it. Now, a new Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling in Trustees of the Cambridge Point Condominium Trust vs. Cambridge Point, LLC has been published, where the court found an anti-litigation provision in the…

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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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SB 663 Tries to Address Abuse of Fair Housing Accommodations

In an attempt to address what many see as a significant problem with people skirting limits on pets in community associations through all-too-easily obtained letters from physicians stating that an animal is needed for service or emotional support, Representative MacGregor has recently introduced SB 663, which has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Local Government.…

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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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Are You Sure You’re Insured? Read Your Condo Policy Carefully

Condominium insurance policies can be incredibly confusing to the average board member. Even though there may be no “fine print” and everything is typed the same size, the many definitions, endorsements, and cross references can create a forest of exceptions that make it difficult to know exactly what you’re paying for or getting. Sometimes, even…

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Robert Meisner Testifies in Lansing, Opposing HB 4446

On October 31, 2017, Robert Meisner testified before the Michigan House Judiciary Committee in opposition to HB 4446. As we have noted previously, HB 4446 includes a dangerous exemption for developers, and fortunately, Representative Greimel clearly recognized that fact when questioning those who drafted the bill. It should be amended to remove the exemption for developers.…

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Doctor Writes a Prescription for Condo Parking Spaces

While we certainly do not profess to be medical experts, when we reviewed a new Michigan federal district court decision which contained the following quote from a plaintiff’s doctor’s prescription, we chuckled a bit: “I am prescribing reasonable accommodations for her disability in the form of reserving the three parking spaces directly in front of…

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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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Special Ethics Considerations for Community Association Lawyers

In the practice of community association law, attorneys face special ethical considerations with respect to representation of community association clients and the attorney’s relationship with community association management companies. Certain attorneys may receive a large portion of their business through referrals from one or two management companies, and if a dispute arises between one of…

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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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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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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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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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