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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

MLG UCOM Fall 2016

UCOM Fall 2016 Seminar

Kay Michael, Teresa Duddles, Dan Feinberg, Brian Harris Mark Petrie, John Gwyn, Teresa Duddles, Robert Meisner “The Condo King”, Kay Michael, Dan Feinberg, Brian Harris, Alan Penskar Robert Meisner issues a final call for additional candidates to serve on UCOM’s Board Robert Meisner speaks on recent legislative developments

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…

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…

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,…

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…

$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…

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:…

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…

SB 610 (2015) Regarding Development of Michigan Condos

Update: Unfortunately, SB 610 was signed into law by Governor Snyder and has been effective since 9/21/16. The following was our argument against the legislation. 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…

Nonprofit Corporation Act changes harm condo associations

Michigan residents who live in condo/homeowner/cooperative associations and fair-minded lawyers who have ties or dealings with nonprofit corporations were recently dealt a serious blow by lawmakers. Significant changes were made to the Michigan Nonprofit Corporation Act (the “Act”) during a lame-duck session of the Legislature. Although some changes can be viewed as positive, as a…

Tips on How to Handle Disputes With the Condominium Developer

A. DON’T DO IT YOURSELF Turn the matter over to your experienced community association attorney – otherwise, you will be outgunned and outsmarted, as most developers are sophisticated businesspeople with an army of lawyers. B. DETERMINE WHAT MAY BE AT ISSUE Circulate a questionnaire to all co-owners regarding construction defects and other problems. If the defects…

On the Board: Legal Aid

By Robert M. Meisner, Esq. Listen up, board members: The community association attorney does not work for you. The attorney is accountable to the entity that hired him or her, namely the community association itself. The board members govern the association, but they are not the client. Some community association board members believe the association…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

A Roadmap to Discovering and Resolving Common Element Construction Defects

The improving real estate market has resulted in decreased home inventories, which has created an increased demand for new construction condominiums. Many potential purchasers will look to buy new construction condominium units with the expectation that the general common elements will be free from construction defects.  This expectation often arises from two common myths.  First,…

Community Associations: What Questions Should You Ask to Find the Truth About the Real Cost of Legal Services?

By Robert Meisner Frequently, we are asked about what questions a Condo Board should ask to find out the truth about the real cost of legal services, as some attorneys may try to brand some competitors as “expensive” in order to discourage condominium associations from hiring that firm. I thought it would be a good idea, therefore, to discuss…

Don’t take a vacation from the additional regulations that apply to Condominium Hotels

Michigan has been blessed with the Great Lakes which has resulted in numerous condominium projects being developed on or near the water that are intended for daily or weekly use by temporary occupants. These condominium projects are often referred to as “Condominium Hotels”, “Resort Condominiums”, “Condotels” or “Vacation Condominiums” despite the fact that the Michigan…

Saving the Manager from Liability

By Robert Meisner By giving property managers the power to oversee a community, they become potentially liable to persons who may be injured, or for property that may be damaged. Consequently, property managers are often named as defendants in premises liability and other lawsuits. Therefore, it is imperative that property managers understand their potential for…