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…

Details

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 A recent unpublished appellate court decision, Brock v. Winding Creek Homeowners Association, et al.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…

Details

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…

Details

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…

Details

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…

Details

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Two more recent unpublished Michigan appellate court decisions have been finalized which provide further examples where individual condominium co-owners and their invitees have been held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…

Details

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…

Details

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…

Details

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,…

Details

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…

Details

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…

Details

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…

Details

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…

Details

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…

Details

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…

Details

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…

Details

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…

Details

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…

Details

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…

Details

Trustworthiness (?) In 2016

With the Presidential election casting two people who “can’t be trusted” as many rightfully profess, I thought it would be appropriate to spend a few sentences on the advertising practiced by brokers, accountants, doctors and, of course, lawyers who claim that they can be “trusted”. Although this practice understandably follows from studies that have shown that…

Details

How Should Community Associations Deal With Smoking?

The Burning Question… 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 with the smokers who probably…

Details

Myths About Condominiums

Over the course of our many years practicing condominium law, we have found that co-owners and board members alike will require guidance to correct some common misconceptions about condominium living and the respective responsibilities of the co-owners, management and board of directors of the Association. Following are some thoughts on some of the most persistent…

Details

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,…

Details

We Need Better Leadership

By Robert M. Meisner The CAI – Michigan Chapter retains a lobbying firm to assist it in either promoting or objecting to proposed legislation pertinent to community associations. Unfortunately, in this writer’s opinion, the Chapter’s recent track record in advocacy leaves much to be desired. First, while some may believe there are benefits to the…

Details

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…

Details

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…

Details

$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…

Details

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:…

Details

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…

Details

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…

Details

E-Mail service: Coming to a complex near you?

The Michigan House of Representatives and Senate appear ready to send a bill to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk which would, in landlord-tenant eviction action: Allow a demand for payment or possession of property to be served electronically, if the person in possession of the property had specifically consented to electronic service. Prohibit a landlord from…

Details

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…

Details

Ethics

Condominium Boards and Ethics: The top 5 reasons that your Association needs a Code of Conduct

Condominium associations are largely governed by volunteer directors that receive little training with respect to their fiduciary duties and potential ethical issues that they may face. Each director has a fiduciary duty of care and duty of loyalty to act in the best interest of the association.  Unfortunately, many directors blur the lines between what…

Details

disclosure

Amendment to the ILSA Cuts Red Tape for Condominium Developers

The Federal Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act (“ILSA”) was originally passed in 1968 in an effort to protect consumers from fraudulent land sales practices.  The ILSA previously required developers of certain types of condominiums to register new condominium projects with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) and to provide a property report to…

Details

home-inspector71011

What is a reserve study and does your Association need one?

A reserve study is an inspection of the common elements that is intended to analyze the repair and replacement needs of a Condominium or HOA. A reserve study serves two important purposes. First, a reserve study allows for an Association to accurately budget for major repairs over an extended period of time and avoid large additional…

Details

Bylaws

What are the top 5 signs that your Condominium Documents need to be amended in Michigan?

It is the responsibility of the Board to enforce the Master Deed and Bylaws. MCL 559.190 allows for the Condominium Bylaws to be amended based upon a vote of 2/3 of the Co-Owners.  In certain circumstances identified in MCL 559.190a, mortgagee approval is also required to amend the condominium documents.  Many Associations run into problems…

Details

The Top 3 Roadblocks Preventing Your Condominium Association From Obtaining FHA Certification

*This article may not reflect current changes being made by FHA which are in the process of being finalized by FHA at this time. Contact us to confirm current requirements. An FHA loan allows a buyer to purchase a condominium with a smaller down payment, and in some instances, at lower interest rates.  A purchaser can…

Details

Who is the Developer of my Condominium?

The Michigan Condominium Act, specifically MCL 559.106(2), defines a “Developer” of a Michigan Condominium as follows: (2) “Developer” means a person engaged in the business of developing a condominium project as provided in this act. Developer does not include any of the following (a) A real estate broker acting as agent for the developer in…

Details