Q. I am considering buying a condominium in a 55+ association. Will my having a felony conviction prevent me from being able to buy a unit? Who makes these decisions and what are the parameters as to what previous legal problems are forgiven and which are not? Do I have any legal recourse if I am refused?
Your first step is to seek legal advice. Many associations have screening committees that review both rentals and new purchases. Some have very strict screening policies. Some will accept new residents if they have only one conviction and several years of clean living. If otherwise or a sexual offender, I have no suggestion as to help as that will remain a black mark. One thing I recommend is not to lie or present false information. Engage a real estate agent to help and have the agent contact the board or screening committee and get their feeling on your conviction. You may want to talk to an attorney to see if you can have your record expunged.
Q. I live in a HOA community and we recently elected a new board. Can it insist on changes that the previous board allowed? The previous boards allowed us to make changes to the landscape and exterior of our homes. The new board wants us to restore the exterior to the original condition. These changes have been made over the years; many were completed more the six years ago. None of the affected owners have correspondence from the past board and are not being pushed to make the changes. What are our options?
S.S., New Port Richey
Normally one board cannot commit new boards to certain actions or obligations. Many variations can limit the new board from enforcing old rules that were not enforced. Since I do not know the specifics of the situation, I will not be able to provide a final answer. Four defenses may be involved if the new board can cause you to return your property to the original. Both estoppel and waivers are usually written exceptions. Selective enforcement is when only some of the alleged violations are enforced. The final is laches. Laches is when sufficient time passes and the rules are not enforced. Only a judge can determine whether the time limits or the laches are a valid excuse not to comply with the new enforcement.
There are other factors of rule application and enforcement, they are whether the rule enforcements are reasonable, protect property values, timely and uniformly applied. My suggestion is to communicate in writing to the board and explain that the new enforcement has had no action by past boards and it apparently loses any enforcement power under this situation, laches.
Q. My condominium unit had damage from mice. The board engaged an exterminator to eliminate them. However, the board refused to repair the damage in my unit. In your opinion, how much of the damage would the condominium be responsible for?
T.V., South Pasadena
Normally, the condominium association would never be responsible for loss or repair in the unit or to personal property, regardless of the cause or source that caused the damage. Only common areas fall under the condominium’s responsibility to restore.
There is one additional responsibility required by the condominium; normally it has an obligation to repair unfinished drywall damage. My guess is that the board would repair most drywalls but not have any obligation to paint or replace wallpaper. You should have insurance to cover such losses and this would be a claim for the damage. If you do not have insurance, then any repairs will be at your expense. Keep in mind that most insurance policies have a deductible and your repairs may not reach this amount. This would mean that you must pay the full amount to make the repairs.