A Lesson in Selective Enforcement and Officer’s Authority

A defense owners can raise if the Board claims the owner has violated the rules is “selective enforcement,” meaning the Board arbitrarily picks on some violators and not others. In addition, owners oftentimes like to rely on approval given by one board member, taking that as “Board approval” of the owner’s actions.  The case below tackles both of these issues, in the context of a dispute over an owner’s installation of hard-surface flooring.

Facts.  In a 2017 case, an owner who lived in an upper-level condominium unit replaced her carpeting with laminated flooring.  The problem is, the Association’s Declaration prohibited the installation of any flooring other than carpet, without prior Board approval. The owner had not received approval from the Board prior to installation of the flooring, but she did allegedly have an email exchange with the Board president wherein he said it would be ok. The owner below her unit complained to the Board, and the Board eventually filed a lawsuit seeking enforcement of the Association’s flooring restrictions, after some failed attempts at settlement. The owner contended that the Board only selectively enforced the flooring rule against 11 of the 94 units—but the evidence showed that there were only 11 units that were upper units, and there was no evidence that the Board failed to follow up on a complaint associated with noise from any of the units below upper units.

Court Rulings. The Court found that there was no selective enforcement by the Board because (1) the clear purpose of the flooring restriction was to avoid noise complaints; (2) the evidence showed that the Association consistently took enforcement action on the noise complaints submitted to it; and (3) the noise complaints only came from lower unit owners against the upper unit owners. The Court also found that the owner was wrong to rely upon the president saying that she could install the floor, because the documents required approval by “the Board of Directors,” and not just one member.

Lesson. This case provides a good example of how a court would analyze the defense of selective enforcement by an owner, and highlights the importance of the Board taking every complaint of a violation seriously and taking consistent action. While the court did not buy the owner’s defense that she relied upon the president’s statements, all board members should still take heed and remember to be clear in your individual communications with homeowners—if something requires “Board approval,” that means that the Board has to act as a whole.

It’s House Hunting Season!

Between October and December each year, starter home inventory in the US gets a 7% boost, according to new data from Trulia.

In 70 of the 100 largest US metros, the number of starter homes on the market reaches its annual peak during this time, meaning those looking to buy their first home will have more to choose from this time of year.

Trulia defines a starter home as any listing priced below $232,751, based on weighted averages from the 100 largest metro areas in the US. The next tier, trade-up homes, are categorized as any listing priced between $232,752 and $360,469. A listing above that threshold is considered a premium home.

The number of homes available for first-time buyers the US tends to fall between July and September, when trade-up and premium home inventory is at its peak.

Since 2012, starter home inventories in the summer months have declined by as much as 20.4%, driving prices up and rendering home-ownership unattainable for many young Americans.

Though starter home listings begin to increase and reach a peak during the fall, buyers looking for their first home will find better deals by waiting to make an offer until after the holidays. By the time January rolls around, according to Trulia, prices for all categories of homes drop to their lowest prices.

Think of it as shopping the sale rack — swimsuits are moved to the clearance rack when stores need to make room for winter coats. Homeowners who have had their house on the market since summer or fall will be extra motivated to sell during winter, even if that means accepting a lower price.

According to Trulia, the average first-time home-buyer has to put nearly 40% of their income toward their mortgage payments — 2.3% more than last year. That’s a far cry from the standard measure of housing affordability, which says Americans should spend 30% or less of their pre-tax income.

For first time home-buyers in particular, house hunting during peak inventory season — but waiting to buy — could pay off. You’ll be able to explore what’s out there and refine your list of “wants” and “needs” before you have to act fast when prices are low after the holidays.

Explaining The Manager Licensure Bill

HOA laws are generated at the state level. Some states require licensing and others do not. Connecticut is one state that requires certification as well as licensure to prove you have what it takes to manage a successful HOA. Since other states are passing similar bills, or could in the future, it is important for everyone to understand the bill, not just those in Connecticut.

What Is the Manager Licensure Bill?

In the past, community association and HOA managers didn’t need any certification or training to get a community association manager license in Connecticut. With the new bill, managers are required to undergo training and receive certification from the National Board of Certification for Community Association Mangers (NBC-CAM). This helps prove they are ready and trained to properly manage a HOA.

What Is the Importance of the Manager Licensure Bill?

As a potential property manager it’s important to understand the Manager Licensure Bill. Other states already look to NBC-CAM to determine what managers need to know, so it is not inconceivable that they may also adopt a similar bill.

If you are a HOA manager in Connecticut and you are already certified by the NBC-CAM, you have nothing to worry about. However, if you are not certified, you must become certified, regardless of how much experience you have. Having certification proves to the state and your residents that you have the training and knowledge to successfully manage an HOA, reducing fraud and incompetence.

If you do not live in a state that requires NBC-CAM certification to manage a community association, consider becoming certified anyway. You never know when your state might pass a similar bill. Plus, it looks good to potential residents and employers if you have the proof that you can run their community.