Bender Anderson And Barba, P.C.
Advanced Boot Camp Seminar Q & A
A special thank you goes out to all who attended the Bender Anderson and Barba, P.C., Advanced Boot Camp Seminar on Saturday, February 24, 2018.
As much as we enjoyed fielding questions from all of the attendees, time just does not permit us to answer each and every one. Below are the questions posed that we were not able to answer at the seminar.
For information about our future seminars, please click here to contact us for additional information.
Q1: Should board meeting minutes include unit owner comments during the “comment section” of the meeting?
A. Minutes just need to state that you had the time for unit owner comments. Details of unit owner comments do not have to be put in the minutes.
Q2. Compare the pros and cons of using condominium legal counsel vs. regular collection attorney
- Note: regular collection attorneys do not know condominium law
- Note: Could ultimately use both collection and board attorneys, which would be a waste of money
A. “Condominium legal counsel” knows not only condominium law, but also collection law while “collection lawyers” only know collection law. It is probably more cost-effective and efficient to have condominium legal counsel who can do everything.
Q3. We are a PUD and our insurance policy is for a condo. Our owners are told to carry HO6 insurance policies. What is the chance we can find insurance for a PUD in Connecticut?
A. You should ask your insurance agent. I have not heard that this is a problem for PUDs; you should be able to get insurance.
Q4. If roofs are damaged or past their life and ice dams form, should the association insurance be responsible (to cover repairs), provided that the heat within the units was on at the maintenance standard level?
A. Regardless of heat in units, your association insurance will cover and is primary. If the unit owner did not follow a written maintenance standard and keep the heat at the right level, you may be able to charge the deductible to them, but maybe not. I don’t know how much of the heat inside the unit would have to do with ice dams forming on the outside. That is usually due to nature and the elements and ice dams are not usually just at one unit.
Q5. We are a PUD (Planned Unit Development) Association. Do the same insurance rules apply to us as a PUD as to Condominium associations?
A. Yes, except you do not have to cover the units or betterments and improvements within the units because you are not connected units but free-standing. Some attorneys disagree and say the statute creates an expectation of primary coverage by the association. Most free-standing condominiums or PUDs we have dealt with get insurance covering the units regardless.
Q6. Is it possible to have a Co-presidency?
Q7. Can you take (and share) unofficial minutes followed by official minutes?
A. Only the official minutes matter. There is no need to do two sets of minutes. You can always amend the minutes before they are accepted by the board as the “official” minutes.
Q8. How does voting work if the board cannot make decisions (e.g. take votes) in executive sessions? The vote would be taken in open session? What is the purpose and/or function of Executive Sessions? Confidentiality.
- Give an example of an appropriate work flow regarding the following:
- Open Session. Regular board decisions – for example, accepting a contract and hiring a snow plower.
- Executive session. Talking about a hoarder situation, since hoarding is a mental disability these things are very sensitive.
- Open session votes. Deciding to send a notice and hearing letter to the hoarder unit owner to come in and that fines may be levied due to not keeping a clean unit.
Q9. What is the hierarchy of governing documents?
A. Declaration, bylaws, rules and regulations (including maintenance standards and collection policy) in that order.
Q10. To be a board member do you have to be a unit owner or can you be a unit owner’s spouse?
A. Check your bylaws; it should say something about this. If the spouse is not a unit owner, and your bylaws say only unit owners may be board members, your spouse cannot be a board member. But your bylaws may say that only a majority of board members must be unit owners. In which case the spouse could be a board member as long as there are a majority unit owners on the board.
Q11. Our association is comprised of duplex units. A carpenter found ant infestations outside one unit. Our association did not agree to treat the ant infestation because they aren’t covered in the governing documents – only termite infestations are addressed in documents. One of our unit owners opted to treat the ant infestation, but exterminator would not guarantee treatment unless both units were treated. The unit owner had to pay for both units since the adjacent unit owner would not share costs. Is there a better remedy? Should the association have covered these costs?
A. Yes, the association should have covered these costs because the ants know nothing of boundaries between units.
Q12. Property insurance; What questions should I be asking so that I know I’m covered for all possibilities?
A. Make sure the insurance agent is familiar with the statutory requirements for common interest community insurance and knows your place. Should not just renew from a distance every year, but the agent should look at your place in person.
Q13. Elections and campaigning: Does our property manager have the right to solicit owners to run for the board?
A. Your property manager only has the authority the board gives him. Check your contract with the property manager. If you don’t like something the property manager is doing tell them to stop doing it. He/she works for the association.
Q14. Please discuss hoarding.
A. This is a mental disability under federal law and the association is required to adapt its rules to permit a “reasonable accommodation” so the hoarder can clean up their unit. This must be handled delicately and you should not just send a notice and hearing letter saying “clean up or else you’ll be fined” like other letters. Get your attorney involved. Try to get help so you can approach informally with social workers, senior center, friends, family etc. You may end up however having to get a court order for them to clean up.
Q15. What happens when no one volunteers to serve on the board? Receivership? If so, what is the process involved?
A. The board won’t go into “receivership” unless some party with authority, like a court, orders it. A board should at least have one person to collect the common charges and pay the bills. You are in big trouble if you don’t have anyone on the board. The unit owners have to elect people to serve on the board.
Q16. Who do you recommend for a property manager who will truly “partner” with a hands-on board? (Not a passive board).
A. Decline to answer in public forum, give us a call. We work with many wonderful property managers.
Q17. Why is there a signature line on your ballot handout?
A. Because the ballot should be signed by the unit owner who is voting.
Q18. When grilling, unit owners cannot use their grills on their decks because they must be “10 feet from the building”. However, if they use their grills on the lawns then they damage the lawns (which are common elements). Unit owners who damage the lawns do not feel that they should be responsible for the lawn repair because the “10 feet from building” rule prohibits them from using them on their own decks. What should we do?
A. This is a dilemma. You can enforce the rule about damaging common elements, have one designated area for grilling, or decide to have the association pay for damage to lawns done by grilling. Or you could just forbid grilling altogether. Some associations have done that.
Q19. We are an older association – Pre-1984. Do the same rules regarding notices/evictions/CIOA statutes apply to us as to post-1984 rules?
Q20. Should a decision to use reserve funds earlier than shown on the reserve study be voted on by the owners (in a referendum) or decided by the board (via a board vote)?
A. The reserve study is just that, a study. It is not a schedule that must be rigidly adhered to. The Board has authority to determine the maintenance, repair and replacement schedule of its regulations of the common elements, so it is a board decision. If the unit owners do not like the board’s decision in this or any other matter, they have authority to vote in new board members.
Q21. Is it in our best interest to give more or less power/influence over to the unit owners vs. the board when discussing larger expense items (e.g. like replacing decks or roofs)?
A. Best to give board authority. People naturally think of their own pocketbook and do not want to spend, the values of all the units and the general well-being of the association are important to consider. Normally only the board will really care about that. However, any “expense items” which are larger than 15% of the annual budget per year are required to be voted on by unit owners at a special unit owner meeting.