|Condominium Best Practices & Law Books||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Sharon Villines (sharonsharonvillines.com)|
|Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2018 09:07:20 -0700 (PDT)|
It has only been in the last few years that cohousing has been openly discussed as a condominium. I wish I had read all the condominium code as soon as development started. Our Bylaws would be better and the design of our building would have been clearer. And we could have explained how things work to new members. We are still for example sorting out what our condo fees are based on — the numbers don’t add up to the original explanation. Half our units have some lack of clarity about LCEs. The condo docs contradict each other. I found two books this week that explain condo life and law. The first is "The Condominium Concept: A Practical Guide for Officers, Owners, Realtors, Attorneys, and Directors of Florida Condominiums" (Condominium Concepts) 15th Edition by Peter M. Dunbar (Author) 2017 https://amzn.to/2GGNWC4 Any book in the 15th edition that is available outside college bookstores is likely to be complete and helpful. Dunbar teaches at the University of Florida, has law practice, has worked in the Florida state government office governing condominiums, has served on the Community Association Institutes Governing Board, etc. The book goes through every aspect of the law and includes many sample forms that can be very helpful for giving you a clue about what should be in a notice of annual meeting, for example. Even though Dunbar is writing for Florida he also discusses difference between Florida law and other states, and much of condo law everywhere is based on the Uniform Law Commission’s Common Interest Ownership Act (2008, updated). In other words, states vary in details but the range is not huge and the basic concepts are the same. If you read the Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act, you will see where many of the boiler plate provisions come from. A copy can be found here: http://bit.ly/2qglKuT Dunbar's approach is to explain legal requirements but he uses Plain English. The book has a detailed table of contents and an index so it is good to use as a reference book as well. The second book is "New Neighborhoods: The Consumer's Guide to Condominium, Co-op, and HOA Living” by Gary Poliakoff and Ryan Poliakoff, 2009 https://amzn.to/2q8y29o This one is more cohousing friendly because it addresses co ops and homeowner associations as well as condominiums. However, remember than the Property Manager’s Association considers 400 units small. The authors’ discussion becomes regulation focused and discusses the board as an exclusive authority because they are accustomed to talking about communities of 2000 and 4000 units. And even more. Never the less, this book explains the concepts in everyday language and, even more helpful, tells you when “This is important, pay attention” and gives everyday examples that demonstrate why. For example, I was looking for a conceptual explanation of LCEs. That LCEs are common elements that are reserved for exclusive use by one or more units, why aren’t they just owned by that unit? Why are back yards LCEs and not owned? The Poliakoffs explain that the community wants to retain the ability to regulate behavior those areas. If they were owned this would be much less possible. Often, this also shifts to the Association responsibility for major repairs and replacement. The Association maybe able to require that 80% of floor space in upstairs units be covered with carpet, but they can’t tell you what color to paint your walls. These are yours. They can say things like furniture on decks and balconies must be designed for outdoor use. Meaning no overstuffed armchairs growing mold and bursting at the seams. And satellite dishes and TV antennas cannot be mounted in back yards. Or they can’t be fenced in because access is required for pest control. There are also appurtenances like door lights and mailboxes that are LCEs. They cannot be changed by the owner without permission. The consistency of design is a legally justified reason for regulating appearance of the exterior. The outside doors and windows may be yours their design and material are probably regulated. I highly recommend that you read at least this book. And have the first around for reference —perhaps requiring the legal and finance team members read it. On thing I learned after trying to sort out a fair basis for condo fees is why most condos are cookie cutter with all the one bedrooms in one building and all the two bedrooms in another and individual homes off to the side. DC requires that the costs of LCE maintenance and repair be paid by the owner to which it is assigned. Figuring out the maintenance costs of unfinished wood sealing when some of it is a General Common Element, some units have no unfinished wood, and all the rest have varying amounts is daunting. It makes things complicated that don’t have to be. We could have designed the place with essentially equal maintenance costs while preserving variety. So do read these, certainly if you are in the developing stage. Sharon ---- Sharon Villines Sociocracy: A Deeper Democracy http://www.sociocracy.info
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