As the saying goes, “to every thing there is a season.” Implicit within the statement is the knowledge that virtually everything has a life cycle. Human beings age. Their residential structures age, as well. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in a condominium community. The development that started perhaps as a beacon for young couples and small children has matured along with its ownership. As more and more “seasoned adults” choose to age in place, they may find themselves with homeowners’ association (HOA) rules and regulations that are no longer relevant. Are your condominium HOA rules up-to-date?
Typical Areas Where HOA Rules Can Get Stale
HOA experts point to a number of areas where amendments might be necessary. Some of them include:
- Landscaping rules – One set of rules seemed appropriate when the shrubbery was short and the trees were just planted. Now the former saplings have strong trunks and significant branches. Does the current landscaping plan even conform to the spirit, much less the letter, of the original rules?
- Parking – In many cases, HOA rules concerning owner parking can be outdated. Is on-street parking banned? Should it be? Have many owners’ garages turned into storage areas, where no vehicle could be parked, no matter what?
- Restrictions on subletting/renting – Does your HOA allow renting through space-sharing organizations like Airbnb? Should it be considered?
- Use of recreational areas – Has playground equipment been appropriately maintained? Is this a positive or a negative factor for your association? Do recreational areas need to be recreated to meet the needs of the residents, where young children may now be the exception and not the rule?
- Intangibles – When the community was created, the developers and owners perhaps had a dream about how it could develop. They had a vision as to what it might look like in future years. Dreams and visions change. The regulatory structure should change, as well.
Review of HOA Rules Isn’t Just for Mature Condominium Communities
Experts agree that while established condominium communities may have the greatest need for amendments to their HOA rules and regulations, “younger” associations should also perform periodic reviews of their own. The boilerplate used to draft the original association documents may no longer be in order.
Think of the HOA as a Small Municipality
Some HOA advisers suggest that the HOA view itself as a small city or town. Just as cities and towns need to review the local ordinances on a regular basis, so HOA organizations need to assess the owners’ needs and craft the rules to reflect the current reality, not get stuck with regulations that only made sense decades ago.
Running an HOA Can Be Complex – Legal Issues Abound
An HOA board bears broad responsibilities. The legal issues can be complicated; but, they are always important. The Kerkman Wagner & Dunn, a Milwaukee business litigation firm with more than 50 years of combined legal experience representing business owners in Wisconsin, can assist your HOA with many matters, including amending rules and bylaws, drafting – and even enforcing – restrictive covenants and restrictions, negotiating and drafting construction contracts, and in collecting past due revenue. Our firm has big firm talent and provides small firm attention. Call us at 414-278-7000 or complete our online contact form.