Monday, June 28, 2010

Hurricane 'BP Oil'


In addition to worrying about the very active hurricane season that most experts are predicting, we now also must contend with the BP Oil Spill already impacting Pensacola and its almost certain eventual impact on various parts of our shoreline, estuaries and other waterways. Senator Bill Nelson recently revealed that new equipment to be installed to control the oil spill will have to be turned off at least 4 days prior to a hurricane and, should a hurricane hit us, for a week. Literally, when it rains it pours!!

This Oil Spill is akin to a slow-moving hurricane. Many of the same steps you take to prepare your communities for a hurricane will also apply to possible damages you may suffer if the oil reaches your shore.

As most of you know, BP Oil has set aside $20 billion for its relief fund and there is talk that the size of that fund will be further increased. Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer who handled the disbursement of 9/11 relief funds to impacted families, has been tapped to administer the BP Oil claims process. Claimants will be entitled to appeal a decision to a panel of three retired judges from the Gulf states appointed by Feinberg.

$5,000 payments to impacted business owners have already been made although the feedback has been that the paperwork involved with securing such payment is voluminous indeed. More and more businesses and individuals are filing claims every day some with very remote links to the damage zone. Many experts predict that the relief fund will run out well before all claims can even be considered let alone paid.

The following are some links to guide you in the BP claims process.
• Claims Process Manual: http://bit.ly/b02QOC

• “How to Make a Claim” page: http://bit.ly/aOIvMI

• Offices Where Claims Can Be Filed: http://bit.ly/ccbMg4

Every insurance company and every insurance policy is different. There may very well be coverage under your policy for business interruption (if your community is a timeshare, condo hotel or simply runs a rental pool), property damage sustained by the Oil Spill, contamination, diminution in property value and more. Pursuing relief through both the BP Oil Claims Process as well as your own insurer are not mutually exclusive paths. Of course, when it is time to renew insurance policies for communities located in the possible “oil contamination zone” there is going to be a whole new set of challenges and concerns since there is no way for your insurer to accurately predict whether or how long it will take for the oil to eventually reach your shore.

It would be advisable to have your association attorney review your current master insurance policy to determine all coverages and exclusions that will impact the community’s chances for recovery should it suffer a loss due to the Oil Spill. Boat owners should have their individual policies reviewed to determine possible coverage. Sadly, we will be forced to talk a lot about “Hurricane” BP Oil over the coming months and possibly years. As with any disaster, experience has taught that an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.

Friday, June 25, 2010

When the Board Should Really Call the Association Attorney – Part II

To continue from yesterday, here are some further examples of situations that really require a call or meeting with the association attorney:

•You are considering amending your documents with a restriction that might be considered controversial. Prime examples would be “55 and over” age restrictions, leasing and sale restrictions, vehicle and pet restrictions, mandatory club membership and guest occupancy restrictions among others. Any time you tell your owners what they can and can’t do with their property and the common areas, expect pushback. Consulting your attorney first will help you consider how much pushback to expect and what the board’s stance should be. There is almost nothing new under the sun in terms of these kinds of restrictions and there are usually cases on point out there. Reviewing those cases with legal counsel before proceeding down the same path will save you money and potential heartache down the road or will bolster your commitment to making a similar change in your community.

•You are considering purchasing or selling property on behalf of the association, changing the parking space designations or the boat slip assignments. All of these matters are sensitive to owners and must be handled with sensitivity. Real property conveyances should be handled by an attorney who can prepare the proper documentation and review any title concerns with the association.

•You want to pursue an owner for a violation. Before threatening certain action in your demand letter, please make sure you have the authority to do what you threaten. You also might have more tools at your disposal that you might employ to resolve the violation which should also be discussed in that demand. Sending a premature or incorrect demand letter puts the association in an inferior posture later in the game.

•Your community has suffered damage as a result of a fire, flood, tropical storm, hurricane or other casualty. This is one area where many boards think they know it all. In fact, the cards are stacked against a volunteer board in terms of maximizing their recovery on an insurance claim. Most boards fall prey to common industry myths that they will be canceled or their rates raised if a claim is made. In fact, coverage cannot be canceled for those reasons. A board’s primary function is to maintain, repair, replace and insure the common areas and association property. Not only should a board consult with its attorney immediately after suffering a loss, it should consult with him or her prior to placing coverage to ensure that the coverage limits and true cost to owners is understood.

•You are served with a Recall Petition. You might not have followed the advice listed above if you find yourself on the receiving end of one of these. There are certain statutory and documentary procedures that must be strictly followed to properly effectuate recall.

•Finally, whenever you think you should call your lawyer, follow your gut instinct and call!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

When the Board Should Really Call the Association Attorney – Part I

As I mentioned yesterday, the next few blogs will address situations that really require a call or meeting with the association attorney. Here are a few examples:

•You are entering into a contract. Any contract. Why? If a vendor has given you a contract (and 9 times out of 10 it is a one-page proposal) that agreement was drafted with the vendor’s protection in mind not yours. Vital provisions ensuring that the work is under warranty, that the contractor will finish on time, that the association will not have to pay for the contractor’s gross negligence, etc. all need to be in there and usually they are conspicuously absent! In addition to wanting protective language in the agreement, you will want any harmful language inserted by the vendor or vendor’s counsel out; this includes automatic renewal clauses that trap the association into an endless cycle of bad service.

•You are hiring or firing an employee. There are all sorts of issues that must be considered prior to hiring (to protect you from a negligent hire claim down the road should the employee go on to do harm) as well as prior to firing (to protect you from possible discrimination and other claims). While Florida is an employment at will state meaning an employer can terminate an employee for any reason other than a discriminatory reason, there are still a myriad of sensitive issues that must be addressed including whether or not the personnel file properly documents employee infractions or other problems. Don’t go this one alone. In fact, if the association has any employees or independent contractors it should consult with legal counsel to ensure that its employment manual complies with all federal and local labor laws, that employees are properly classified as exempt or hourly, that background checks are being conducted with proper advance notice and consent, etc.

•You are contemplating rejecting a proposed lease or purchase application. Again, this is an area fraught with potential liability if it is mishandled. You must ensure that you have the authority you think you do in this regard as well as that you have been applying your standards uniformly and routinely. In this real estate market, a lost sale or lease will almost certainly be met with some form of consternation from the owner or the realtor. Before boxing yourself into a corner, make sure you are correct.

•You have been served with a lawsuit, DBPR Complaint or a Code violation. It is usually advisable that the law firm serve as the association’s registered agent in order to avoid any delay in sending over time sensitive matters for handling. Being named as a defendant in a lawsuit or a Code violation is one area that absolutely mandates a conference with your attorney to map out a strategy.

•You are considering a complete remodeling project for your community. What may seem absolutely necessary and advisable to the board might actually be a material alteration of the common elements or areas which requires a membership vote. Nothing riles owners up more than the thought of a board spending money on projects for which the enthusiasm is not shared by all. Responding to a complaint from an owner after the project is completed puts you in a defensive posture and, depending on the outcome of that complaint, might put you in breach of a contract with your vendors on the project; better to handle it correctly from the beginning.

Stay tuned tomorrow for further examples.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

When Should Your Board Really Call the Association Attorney?

Most people don’t like to call the association attorney when times are good let alone when times are tough and money is tight. However, the old saying “penny wise and dollar foolish” holds true. There are times when you absolutely should call the association attorney prior to taking action as a board.

In addition to knowing when to call, a board must first decide who should call. Every board should decide at its organizational meeting following the election which members will be the authorized contacts with the attorney and other association vendors. This must be done to control costs, eliminate duplicative or conflicting work requests and to set the right tone for association operations. Even with an authorized contact system securely in place, those authorized contacts must understand that the only requests and queries that should be made to the attorney are those at the direction of the board and not any which concern personal issues or agendas. As added insurance against this kind of problem, an experienced association attorney will usually have a good feel for when a work request or question may not be something supported by the entire board; typically this happens in recall situations. At that point, the attorney should insist on polling the board to determine that the request was made at the board’s direction and that the work should be done.

Once the board has decided who should call, they then must decide when to call. Some boards are overly cautious and call at the drop of a hat. This often leads to membership scrutiny of unusually high legal bills down the road and, in the most egregious cases, can be the basis for director recalls. More often than not, however, the more typical problem is boards who don’t consult with legal counsel often enough. Since every board action is viewed through a prism of reasonableness, not obtaining professional advice on areas outside a volunteer board’s scope of expertise might automatically pitch the action into the unreasonable category.

Over the next few blogs, I will be discussing which situations really require a call or meeting with the association attorney.

Monday, June 21, 2010

What responsibilities do owners have to screen their tenants?


Last week I blogged about an association’s need to know if the purchasers and tenants coming in to the community have a troublesome history elsewhere. What about the association member’s responsibility to similarly give some thought to the people moving in to their private properties?

Far too often, owners in communities where the boards screen potential renters rely entirely on that screening procedure an do not perform their own background checks on the people they are allowing in to their homes. Other times, owners have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy which is odd considering that these owners, in most instances, are allowing strangers to move into their property.

For some owners, renting out the property means the difference between keeping the unit or home or losing it to foreclosure. It is important to remember, however, that certain tenants can wind up costing the owner/landlord a lot of money should that tenant do damage to the common areas or create a nuisance. After all, the owner is still the one that is on the hook for any damage his or her tenant inflicts on the community as well as for attorney’s fees and costs should the association sue for violations.

I’ve often wondered if some leases would still be executed if owners delved a little deeper into the backgrounds of their tenants. The recent, brutal killing of a Nova Southeastern University professor allegedly at the hands of his renter is a chilling cautionary tale. In that case, the professor was attempting to evict his tenant. A check of the tenant’s name in the Broward County court system would have revealed that the tenant had been evicted six times before by other landlords: once in 1995 and five other times since 2002, all related to nonpayment of rent.

While the vast majority of tenants prove to be wonderful additions to a community, potential landlords would still be well advised to check the names of potential renters through the clerk of the courts online system in their county. If past evictions are revealed, the landlord should seek further information about the nature of the eviction: nonpayment, conduct or both. There is no doubt that getting a tenant willing to rent your property these days is a welcome relief for many; however, that does not warrant throwing caution and common sense out the window during the process.

Recent arbitration decision may jeopardize attorney-client privilege


A recent Florida arbitration decision grants condominium owners the right to inspect an attorney’s legal opinion when the decision to seek that legal advice was made at an open board meeting. The arbitrator took the position that since the decision to seek a legal opinion on whether or not adopting a proposed budget required unit owner approval pursuant to the association’s Bylaws was discussed at length in a public forum, there was no expectation that the opinion ultimately rendered would not similarly be open to inspection.

There is a delicate balance between protecting the members’ right to know everything that goes into operating and administering their community while also protecting the association’s ability to pursue its legal rights on behalf of the membership.

An opinion regarding how the budget should properly be adopted doesn’t bear the same need for privacy that a legal opinion regarding the best way to pursue a developer for construction defects would. Obviously, jeopardizing attorney-client privilege and disclosing potential legal strategy in the latter case would be devastating to the association’s ability to pursue that claim and would hurt the very owners seeking its disclosure.

Time will tell whether or not this arbitration decision will be overturned. In the interim, boards discussing the need for legal opinions in matters that could lead to litigation would be well advised to make the vote to request that opinion a matter of procedure without lengthy discussion and with the caveat that the association has no intention to waive privilege of the opinion being sought.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Would you want to know if a potential purchaser or renter had a history of nuisance in a previous community?

A client recently called me regarding an owner in the community who had become a general nuisance to her neighbors. This individual had made a hobby of creating disturbances at board and membership meetings, had peppered the manager with repeated and voluminous document inspection requests and was even suspected of damaging a neighbor’s property as well as certain common areas.

During the course of our conversation, the client advised me that this individual had done the same thing in her previous community and had been sued and sued that association more than once. I asked the client if they would have approved her purchase had they known this information and the obvious answer was “no”.

This community is actually fortunate to have pretty broad approval powers. They actually have language in there that they can deny potential purchasers and potential renters “for cause” and that one of the causes warranting denial is having a history of nuisance in another community. Having that right and exercising it are sadly, two different things. The screening committee asked this woman whether or not she had ever had problems in a prior association setting and not surprisingly her answer was a resounding “no”.

What could this board have done? For starters, they could have run a civil case history by checking with the Clerk of the Court in the county where this applicant previously lived. Some counties provide a court docket at no charge and others charge a minimal fee. The board or manager could not have seen the actual court file but they could have seen a list showing every time the applicant was sued or had sued and the previous suits with her association would have popped up. If the association wanted to view the court file for more information they would have to go down to the Courthouse; unless the file was sealed they would be able to read the file to glean even more information.

This community is now in the midst of prolonged warfare of sorts. They will undoubtedly spend an inordinate amount of time and money containing the problem but they will never really resolve it until this individual moves out and on to her next community. Let’s hope that next community has the proper authority in their governing documents to screen for a history of nuisance and knows how to find the information they need to exercise that right.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Is Your Community Pool On the Verge of Being Closed?

One of the most popular ways to beat the heat in Florida is the swimming pool. It is no surprise with our great year-round weather that most common interest ownership communities in our State enjoy the benefits of at least one community pool. In addition to the fun and relaxation a swimming pool offers, it carries with it a great responsibility as well. Each year, pool-related accidents occur resulting in severe injury and even death. One of the most devastating of these mishaps arises when individuals, oftentimes young children, get caught by the suction created by a blocked pool drain and those individuals are either permanently disabled or killed.

To combat this nationwide problem, the federal government enacted the comprehensive Virginia Graeme Baker Act (“VGBA”) in 2007. CAN previously set out a series of alerts about this law when it first became effective. This law set forth a number of stipulations regarding pool safety and placed a major emphasis on preventing drain-related injuries and deaths. The VGBA set a deadline of December 19, 2008, for all public pools and spas to have their drains equipped with ASME/ANSI standard A 112.19.17 or similarly approved drain covers. Reports indicate that most associations heeded the call to retrofit with these types of drain covers and have complied with this first portion of the safety requirements.

In addition to the federal requirements set forth under the VGBA, common interest ownership communities in Florida must also contend with the more stringent requirements set forth in Florida Administrative Code Ann. 64E-9.007(10) (e) (2010). The Florida Legislature has mandated that all public pools and spas also have their main drain outlet connected to a collector tank. These tanks serve as an additional safety measure by acting as a sort of pressure release valve which can help avert the dangerously high level of suction created when a pool drain is blocked. The following are the government-mandated deadlines by which these tanks must be installed:

• All spa type pools built before 1977-Retrofit by July 1, 2010
• All spa type pools built between 1977 and 1986-Retrofit by July 1, 2011
• All spa type pools built between 1986 and 1995-Retrofit by July 1, 2012
• All other pools-Retrofit by July 1, 2013

If your pool has not been retrofitted with a properly sized and piped collector tank by its respective date set forth above, your community association will be in violation of the law and your pool will be closed. Such a violation also carries with it substantial liability should any accidents occur as well as possible civil and criminal penalties.

For those of you who have properly complied with the first part of the VGBA and installed the necessary main drain covers and grates, you must now be equally vigilant about installing the proper collector tank, sooner rather than later, if you don’t already have one.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

SB 1196: A Guidebook for Community Associations


Those of you who have been reading this blog for some time know that I have been discussing the drafting of the 103-page association bill, SB 1196, the need for many of its provisions, the collaborative effort by so many different groups to safeguard its passage, the fear that the Governor would veto it and the joy that he didn’t.

Now that the bill has passed and with the Governor’s signature nonetheless, it is time to sort out what needs to be done to capitalize on its most positive provisions.

I am very pleased to provide you with a link to a 21-page Guidebook which the attorneys at my law firm, Katzman Garfinkel & Berger, have prepared to explain the many sweeping changes brought about by the recently passed SB 1196.

We hope this comprehensive guidebook will prove to be hugely beneficial to volunteer board members and their professional managers attempting to navigate these new waters. However, no matter how much depth we delve into with this 21-page guidebook, there undoubtedly will still be questions about the proper manner to implement many of these operational changes. Please make sure to reach out to us if we are your legal counsel or to your own counsel if we are not. Board members and managers who are educated on these changes promptly and thoroughly will undoubtedly reap the most benefit.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ OUR SB 1196: A GUIDEBOOK FOR COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS OR COPY AND PASTE THIS LINK INTO YOUR BROWSER.
http://canfl.com/pdfs/LegUpdate2010F.pdf

If you have trouble opening this link, please contact my assistant, Diane Schick, via email at dschick@kgblawfirm.com or by phone at 954-315-0372.

Monday, June 7, 2010

SB 1196 changes do not mean condominium owners can cancel their H0-6 policies!

Some people have lept to the conclusion that the recent changes in SB 1196 pertaining to individual condominium unit policies (also known as H0-6 policies) now means that condominium owners no longer have to carry individual policies on their units. That is not the case. The changes in 1196 removed the statuory enforcement mechanism which allowed associations for a very brief period of time to purchase or “force place” missing H0-6 policies by specially assessing owners for the costs of same but it did not remove the underlying requirement that owners insure the interiors of their units.

If anything, SB 1996 provides in greater detail what must be in individual condominium unit policies. Elsewhere in Section 718.111(11) of the Condominium Act, the responsibility of owners to insure their individual property is implicit. Of course, some associations have amended their governing documents over the years to provide their boards with the ability to require owners to properly insure their units. Now that the statutory authority to enforce owner insurance responsibility is no longer available, associations looking for the ability to require owner compliance in this regard, may wish to amend their governing documents.

In addition to removing the association’s ability to force place missing H0-6 insurance policies, SB 1196 removed the requirement that owners add the association as an additional insured and loss payee on their individual policies. I have copied and pasted below the new changes brought about by 1196 in this regard; lining through indicates language that was deleted and underlining indicates language that was added. Please be sure to speak with your association counsel about these changes and to start an educational campaign in your community should your owners be under the mistaken belief that they no longer have a statutory responsibility to insure their individual units.

SB 1196 created Section 5. Section 627.714, Florida Statutes to read:

(1) For policies issued or renewed on or after July 1, 2010, coverage under a unit owner’s residential property policy must include at least $2,000 in property loss assessment coverage for all assessments made as a result of the same direct loss to the property, regardless of the number of assessments, owned by all members of the association collectively if such loss is of the type of loss covered by the unit owner’s residential property insurance policy, to which a deductible of no more than $250 per direct property loss applies. If a deductible was or will be applied to other property loss sustained by the unit owner resulting from the same direct loss to the property, no deductible applies to the loss assessment coverage.

(2) The maximum amount of any unit owner’s loss assessment coverage that can be assessed for any loss shall be an amount equal to that unit owner’s loss assessment coverage limit in effect one day before the date of the occurrence. Any changes to the limits of a unit owner’s coverage for loss assessments made on or after the day before the date of the occurrence are not applicable to such loss.

3) Regardless of the number of assessments, an insurer providing loss assessment coverage to a unit owner is not required to pay more than an amount equal to that unit owner’s loss assessment coverage limit as a result of the same direct loss to property.

4) Every individual unit owner’s residential property policy must contain a provision stating that the coverage afforded by such policy is excess coverage over the amount recoverable under any other policy covering the same property.

The following is a portion from 718.111(11) discussing what is exempt from the association’s insurance coverage. It is also important to note that in a few places in 718.111(11), the language refers to unit owner requirement to carry property insurance (see highlighted section below).

3. The coverage shall exclude all personal property within the unit or limited common elements, and floor, wall, and ceiling coverings, electrical fixtures, appliances, water heaters, water filters, built-in cabinets and countertops, and window treatments, including curtains, drapes, blinds, hardware, and similar window treatment components, or replacements of any of the foregoing which are located within the boundaries of the unit and serve only such unit. Such property and any insurance thereupon is the responsibility of the unit owner.

g)
A condominium unit owner's policy must conform to the requirements of s. 627.714 Every hazard insurance policy issued or renewed on or after January 1, 2009, to an individual unit owner must contain a provision stating that the coverage afforded by such policy is excess coverage over the amount recoverable under any other policy covering the same property. Such policies must include special assessment coverage of no less than $2,000 per occurrence. An insurance policy issued to an individual unit owner providing such coverage does not provide rights of subrogation against the condominium association operating the condominium in which such individual is located.

1. All improvements or additions to the condominium property that benefit fewer than all unit owners shall be insured by the unit owner or owners having the use thereof, or may be insured by the association at the cost and expense of the unit owners having the use thereof.

2. The association shall require each owner to provide evidence of a currently effective policy of hazard and liability insurance upon request, but not more than once per year. Upon the failure of an owner to provide a certificate of insurance issued by an insurer approved to write such insurance in this state within 30 days after the date on which a written request is delivered, the association may purchase a policy of insurance on behalf of an owner. The cost of such a policy, together with reconstruction costs undertaken may be collected in the manner provided for the collection of assessments in s. 718.116.1.


3. All reconstruction work after a property
casualty loss must shall be undertaken by the association except as otherwise authorized in this section.

A unit owner may undertake reconstruction work on portions of the unit with the prior written consent of the board of administration. However, such work may be conditioned upon the approval of the repair methods, the qualifications of the proposed contractor, or the contract that is used for that purpose.

A unit owner must shall obtain all required governmental permits and approvals before prior to commencing reconstruction.

2.4. Unit owners are responsible for the cost of reconstruction of any portions of the condominium property for which the unit owner is required to carry property casualty insurance, and any such reconstruction work undertaken by the association is shall be chargeable to the unit owner and enforceable as an assessment pursuant to s. 718.116. The association must be an additional named insured and loss payee on all casualty insurance policies issued to unit owners in the condominium operated by the association.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sweeping new association law; do you see the glass half full or half empty?


“Dog bites man”, that’s not much of a story; but “Man bites dog,” now you’re talking! Along those lines, some folks seem intent on looking for anything and everything to criticize in the large association bill that Governor Crist just passed despite venomous opposition from groups like the fire sprinkler lobby whose industry stands to lose millions of dollars now that high-rise residents in older buildings can decide for themselves whether or not they want to retrofit. The same holds true for elevator companies and fire alarm companies whose pool of mandatory purchasers just got a little smaller for the near future.

I read one recent story where a so-called expert was lamenting the fact that some associations would only see “an additional two months” of assessments from banks foreclosing on condominium units as a result of the doubling of the past-due monthly assessment cap. Have we become so jaded that we now sneer at an additional two months of assessments in this economy? Even more astonishing is the amount of hand-wringing in some quarters regarding the newfound ability for HOA’s and condominiums to collect rent from tenants in delinquent units without having to go to Court to petition for a Receiver to serve this function. Before jumping into a Fox News-style debate on enforcement challenges, can we spend two minutes joyfully contemplating the amount of money this could infuse into some struggling communities, especially the failed conversion projects?

Did the bill go far enough? No single bill will ever go far enough to satisfy everyone’s wants. As it is, SB 1196 wound up being a 103-page bill and survived a gubernatorial veto by only the slightest of margins. Large bills generally mean an equally large probability of being vetoed since there is usually something to hate amongst all those pages. Did the bill go too far? For some folks, any legislative change is unwelcome.

I have to ask myself who benefits most from people being unhappy. Is it the media running a “Man bites dog” type of story? Is it the vendors who stand to lose money now that the Legislature has wisely given associations some breathing room? Or is it just the folks who didn’t help fight the fight who now want to rain on the parade?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Governor signed SB 1196….now what?

You can’t open a newspaper or go online without reading about the Governor signing the 103-page association bill, SB 1196. Why is this bill big news?

First, the bill was the culmination of years of work on the part of advocates and groups that sought more sensitive treatment for existing buildings in terms of expensive Building Code upgrades and retrofits. Governor Crist vetoed a bill last year (714) which contained retrofit relief language so this year’s signature is all the more rewarding especially in light of the fact that the retrofit relief contained in SB 1196 goes far beyond what was contained in last year’s bill which he vetoed.

Second, the bill contains a provision that requires lenders foreclosing on units in condominiums to pay the lesser of 12 months past due assessments or 1% of the original mortgage debt. Currently, Chapter 718 provides for the lesser of 6 months or 1%. To all the naysayers out there complaining that this does nothing, I say do the math. An association cannot do worse under this change and some will do significantly better. Yes, it would have been wonderful to increase the 1% cap to 2% or more in addition to increasing the number of months owed but legislation is an incremental process. Small bites at the apple are better than no bites.

Third, the bill would allow both HOA’s and condominiums to collect rent from tenants in delinquent properties. This is not an area where a board should plunge blindly ahead. A clear strategy needs to be created as to how this will be handled and by whom. The new statutory provision does NOT allow an association to rent out abandoned units if the association does not have title to them. An association with a large number of abandoned units can attempt to rent those out prior to taking title through the use of a Court-appointed Receiver. The provisions in 1196 do not address that problem. They do address the issue of units with tenants already in them where the owners are not paying maintenance.

Many of you are already asking questions about this law and its real-life impact on your communities. The bill bears an effective date of July 1st. My Firm is doing a bullet point guidebook for our clients as to the best way to implement these changes to maximize benefit to their communities. Now is the time to get with your association counsel and ask them to help you map out precise implementation plans for the many changes this bill brings.