Last Week of Legislative Session: What’s in Store?

March 11, 2013

By Curtis G. Kimble.

It’s the last week of the Utah 2013 general legislative session, which is set to end Thursday, March 14, at midnight, and there are a few HOA bills on the path to becoming law.  Here’s a summary and update on where they are in the process:

HB 335 Condominium Owner Rental Amendments

HB 335 would amend the Condo Act to state a condominium project that recorded its initial declaration before May 12, 2009, would not be able to prohibit or restrict a unit owner’s ability to rent to any greater extent than is described in the declaration that was recorded at the time the unit owner purchased the unit owner’s unit, unless the association obtains the unit owner’s written consent.

This bill is in the House Rules Committee where it has been for a few weeks. This bill will not pass this session.

SB 64 1st sub Homeowner Association Reserve Account Amendments

This substituted version of SB 64 is completely different than the original version (see my prior post).  The most important part of this bill, in my opinion, is that now the decision of whether and how to fund a reserve is back where it belongs. If passed, this version of the law will put that decision back to the board (as most CC&Rs require, and where the decision will be subject to the fiduciary obligations of the decision makers).  This bill would also allow the homeowners to veto the reserve fund contribution  if they don’t like it (whether too low or too high) by a 51% vote of the owners at a special meeting.

Additionally, this bill provides for specific enforcement procedures if the association fails to comply with certain of its provisions.  The association will be required to provide a summary each year of the reserve analysis to each owner (not just at the annual meeting) and a complete copy of the reserve analysis to an owner upon request.  The board also has to include a reserve fund line item in the annual budget in the amount the board determines and the homeowners can veto that determination (as discussed above).

If an association fails to comply, an owner can sue for a court order compelling the association to comply, for $500 or the owner’s actual damages, whichever is greater, other available remedies, and costs and attorney fees.

This bill has passed through the Senate, though the House committee, and is in the House for a vote.  My guess is that this bill will pass, depending on the calendar.

SB 90 1st sub Condominium and Community Association Amendments

SB 90 1st sub changes which associations the Community Association Act applies to.  It currently only applies to wholly residential associations (associations where each member is an owner of a residential lot).  This bill makes the Act applicable to any association with at least one residential lot.  So, it will apply to mixed-use (commercial/residential) projects with at least one residential lot.

The bill states that, unless otherwise provided in the CC&Rs, developers essentially have control of the association for eternity (that is, for seven years after all declarants have ceased to offer lots for sale in the ordinary course of business (compare this with the Condo Act where it’s 3 years after recording the CC&Rs for a typical project)), or 60 days after 75% of the lots that may be created are sold, whichever happens first.

This bill contains changes to the reserve analysis law, as well, which are very similar to SB 64 1st sub (minus the veto and enforcement provisions).

The bill enacts some provisions relating to making changes to adjoining units or lots acquired by same owner, and relating to the consolidation or merger of associations (i.e., a procedure for merging, if two associations wanted to merge or consolidate).

Finally, the bill cleans up the insurance provisions in the Condo Act and Community Association Act and exempts commercial condominiums and lots from its requirements.

This bill has passed the Senate and is now on its way to the House.  Whether it can get through the House in time is anybody’s guess, but my bet is that it will.

SB 274 Condominium Foreclosure Amendments

SB 274 would require a bank or lender to pay a unit or lot’s share of certain common expenses from the time the lender starts the foreclosure process (by filing a notice of default) on a unit or lot.   Many banks start the foreclosure process and then wait for months and sometimes years before completing it, even if the homeowner has given up and long since moved out.  Meanwhile, the association still has to carry applicable insurance and carry out maintenance benefiting the unit or lot.  The bank won’t foreclose because they don’t want to have to start paying assessments.  This bill would address the problem to a small degree by requiring the bank to pay the unit or lots share of “landscaping maintenance in the common areas, water and insurance.”

If this bill gets through the banking lobby, I’d be amazed, but it has passed favorably out of committee and is on the Senate calendar for vote.

HB 101 1st sub Homeowners Association Amendments

The statute requiring all HOAs to register as an HOA with the state of Utah is being merely clarified once again with this bill.   There is no change in its requirements or implications.  It passed the Senate and House.

SB 262 Employment and Housing Antidiscrimination Amendments

SB 262 modifies the Utah Fair Housing Act, which is important for HOAs because the Fair Housing Act prohibits an HOA from discriminating against certain “protected classes” of people in its rules, covenants or practices.  If this bill passes, it would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  Specifically, the bill states (the underlined language is new language):  “It is a discriminatory housing practice to do any of the following because of a person’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, source of income, [or] disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity: . . . deny or make unavailable [any] a dwelling from any person; (b) discriminate against [any] a person in the terms, conditions, or privileges: (i) of the sale or rental of [any] a dwelling; or (ii) in providing facilities or services in connection with the dwelling; . . ..”

This bill passed out of the Senate committee with a favorable recommendation and is on the reading calendar of the Senate (to be voted on).

I’ll let you know which bills pass this session after it ends.

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Utah LAC Issues Statement on SB 64 (Reserves)

February 22, 2013

By Curtis G. Kimble.

As many of you may know, the 2013 General Session of the Utah Legislature is in full swing on Capitol Hill.  A few bills enacting or amending HOA laws are in the works and I’ll be summarizing and commenting on those over the next couple of weeks.

As to one such bill, SB 64, CAI’s Utah Legislative Action Committee issued a position statement today coming down quite aggressively against it.  SB 64 amends the reserve funding requirements of Utah Code Sections 57-8-7.5 and 57-8a-211 and, if passed, will require an association to begin funding the reserve fund in the manner and amount determined by the vote of the owners within 90 days after the vote, and to file a certificate of compliance with the Department of Commerce within 30 days of starting to fund a reserve fund.  It also requires that if an association does not file a certificate of compliance within the required 30 days, the association may not levy a special assessment until it files a certificate of compliance.  View SB 64 here.  View the position statement here (I am not a member of ULAC and their position is not necessarily mine, nor mine theirs).

UPDATE March 1: view the substitute bill SB 64 here and a comparison of the changes to the original SB 64 here.

The original requirement of this law requiring the decision of whether to fund a reserve account to be made by a majority of those owners who happen to show up at the annual meeting, is one that I’ve always been opposed to for various reasons, not the least of which is that it unconstitutionally interferes with the obligation contained almost universally in preexisting HOA contracts (CC&Rs) that the board establish a reasonable reserve.  For reasons similar to those contained in the ULAC position statement, I am opposed to SB 64, as well.

If you have an opinion one way or the other on pending legislation, don’t be afraid to voice it to your representatives in the Legislature.  Follow this link to identify who they are and contact them: Utah State District Maps


Our New Utah HOA Law App Helps Associations Follow the Law

December 6, 2012

Up until a few years ago, it seems that a board could get away with not referencing the Utah statutes that apply to HOAs.  Especially in non-condo HOAs, there just weren’t a lot of issues addressed by Utah law, except the procedural and corporate issues set out in the Nonprofit Corporation Act.

But today, the landscape is different.  Many day to day issues, such as adoption and enforcement of rules, spending reserve money, records, providing payoffs, insurance, budgets, and so forth are now addressed in the law and their requirements are not optional.  They must be followed or an association risks expensive litigation and other disputes, especially in today’s  increasingly litigious climate for HOAs, where a technicality or trivial failure of association procedure can lead to a major and costly headache.

As part of Kimble Law’s commitment to provide real value to its clients and to help all community associations operate effectively and properly, we brings you a free app for your smartphone and tablet that provides quick reference to the laws that apply to your association.

Now the laws are available right in your pocket, no Internet connection required!  The statutes are formatted and indented for easier reading than the state’s own website, plus search and bookmark functions make it much easier and quicker to use.  Certain federal regulations applicable to HOAs, such as Fair Housing Act and satellite dish regulations are also included, together with summaries and explanations of those requirements.

Utah HOA Law App Now Available.  Access the Web App online, or download the app to your mobile device today for free!

Click below or search Utah HOA Law in the Apple App Store or on Google Play.

Utah HOA Law for iPhone, iPod:

Utah HOA Law for Android:
Android app on Google Play

file-dec-16-6-51-54-pm


Pop Quiz on New Utah HOA Laws

August 16, 2012

By Curtis G. Kimble.

Many changes were enacted to the laws that govern HOAs in Utah in 2011. We tested your knowledge a year ago soon after the changes went into effect.  How is your knowledge of these changes over a year later?  Take this short quiz and find out (answers at very bottom).

1. (First, a warm up question unrelated to the new laws) All homeowners associations in Utah are bound by the Utah Condominium Ownership Act.
 True

 False

2. In a condominium association, the management committee is required by law to keep detailed, accurate records in chronological order, of the receipts and expenditures affecting the common areas and facilities, specifying and itemizing the maintenance and repair expenses and any other expenses incurred, and is required to make those records available for examination by any unit owner at convenient hours of weekdays no later than _____ days after the unit owner makes a written request to examine the records:
 0, they must be available upon request

 5

 14

 30

3. In a community association (non-condo HOA), a rule ______ regulate the content of political signs and a rule ________ regulate the time, place, and manner of posting a political sign.
 may not . . . may not

 may not . . . may

 may . . . may not

 may . . . may

4. A rule may not be inconsistent with:
 the declaration (CC&Rs)

 the bylaws

 the articles of incorporation

 all of the above

 none of the above, a rule supersedes each of the above

5. In a community association (non-condo HOA), before adopting, modifying, or creating exceptions to the rules and design criteria of the association, the board must:
 A. at least 15 days before the board will meet to consider a change to a rule or design criterion, deliver notice to lot owners that the board is considering a change to a rule or design criterion

 B. provide an open forum at the board meeting giving lot owners an opportunity to be heard at a board meeting

 C. deliver a copy of the change in the rules or design criteria approved by the board to the lot owners within 15 days of adoption.

 D. all of the above

 E. A and C but not B

6. If provided in the declaration, articles, bylaws, or rules, an association may provide notice to its members by electronic means, including text message, email, or the association’s website.
 True

 False

 True, except as to a member who has made written demand to the association to provide notice to the member by mail.

 False, except as to members who have consented in writing beforehand.

 

Don’t look below until you’ve finished!  Warning – answers below!

Now grade yourself.  Here are the answers:

1.  False, only condominiums are governed by the Utah Condominium Ownership Act.

2.  14 days

3.  may not . . . may.

4.  D.  all of the above

5.  all of the above

6.  True, except as to a member who has made written demand to the association to provide notice to the member by mail

Thanks for playing!


Don’t Forget to Conduct a Reserve Analysis by July 1!

June 12, 2012

By Curtis G. Kimble.

The deadline for all HOA and condominium boards in Utah to conduct a “reserve analysis” is fast approaching.  By July 1, every  board (except developer-controlled boards) needs to obtain or perform a reserve analysis if no reserve analysis has been conducted since March 1, 2008.

A reserve analysis is an analysis to determine:

(a)     the need for a reserve fund to accumulate money to cover the cost of repairing, replacing, and restoring common areas and facilities that have a useful life of three years or more, but excluding any cost that can reasonably be funded from the general budget or other funds of the association; and

(b)     the appropriate amount of any reserve fund.

So, each board must:

  1. determine which improvements have a useful life of 3 years or more, then
  2. determine what the cost is for maintaining those improvements over the next several years, and then
  3. determine what they think the appropriate amount of the reserve fund should be.

There are no requirements in the law as to who has to perform the reserve analysis.  So, a board can perform the analysis or it can engage a professional to perform it.  There are several competent reserve study professionals serving the state of Utah.  There are also websites that will create your reserve study for you based on your input, and some will allow users to run “what if” scenarios with their components and funding plans.  A simple Google search will lead to those sites (I cannot vouch for the quality or value of such online services since I’ve never personally used them or analyzed their results).

There are many options when it comes to fulfilling the requirements of this law.  Each association should find the option that works best for them.

Don’t forget the law also requires each board to, annually, present the reserve study to the homeowners at the annual homeowner meeting or at a special meeting of the homeowners, and provide an opportunity for homeowners to discuss reserves and to vote on whether to fund a reserve fund and, if so, how to fund it and in what amount.  The association must also prepare and keep minutes of the meeting and indicate in the minutes any decision relating to funding a reserve fund.


The Results Are In: The 2012 Utah Legislative Session

March 8, 2012

By Curtis G. Kimble.

The 2012 general session of the Utah Legislature ends tonight at midnight and only one small change to a current law and no new laws affecting condominiums and homeowners associations were passed this year.  This is probably welcome news to the many boards and management committees that were likely more than a little overwhelmed by last year’s many changes.

The only change this year is to the law regarding reserve studies.  A board is required to conduct a reserve study every five years and to review and update it every two years.  But, when S.B. 56 goes into effect on May 8 of this year (assuming it’s signed by the Governor), a board will only have to conduct a reserve study every six years and review and update it every three years.  While industry professionals generally agree that a reserve study should be updated more frequently than that, even annually, and many states require an annual review and update of a reserve study, this change to the law will take some pressure off boards.

No other new laws or changes affecting condos and HOAs will go into effect this year.  Next year, expect to see more significant changes proposed that haven’t been seen yet.  I have a feeling we can also expect to see that Ombudsman bill (H.B. 56) that I explained here proposed yet again.


The Ups and Downs of the 2012 Utah Legislative Session

February 17, 2012

By Curtis G. Kimble.

As many of you know, we’re right in the middle of the the 2012 general session of the Utah Legislature, which is January 23 to March 8.

So far, the bills being proposed relating to HOAs are fairly minor, with one or two exceptions:

1.  H.B. 56 (the Ombudsman bill) proposes to require every Utah HOA (both condo and non-condo HOAs) to pay 2$ per unit or lot annually to yet another government bureaucracy, the Utah Office of the Property Rights Ombudsman.  The Ombudsman Office would be authorized to represent and advise a unit or lot owner who has a dispute with his or her homeowners association and force the association to mediate or arbitrate the dispute.  So, every unit and lot owner in Utah will be paying for these disputes, whether they’re involved or not.

Unfortunately, this bill is attempting to impose a mandatory solution that just doesn’t work.  There are already better remedies to the problem the bill is attempting to address.  Utah homeowners associations don’t need yet another tax or fee to deplete their already suffering budgets in this foreclosure ridden economy, especially for a program that will likely be less effective and more expensive than other solutions.   Yet another government bureaucracy simply isn’t the answer in this situation.

For more information on this bill, and for comments by our own John Richards, check out this article at the ParkRecord.com: “HOAs and condo owners at odds – Legislation heats debate on how HOAs handle owner disputes”

For the reasons above, I give H.B. 56 the thumbs down.

Other proposed bills include:

Thumbs Up   2.  H.B. 275 (Seismic Requirements for Condominium Conversion Projects) which requires the owner of a structure two or more stories high, and which was built before 1975, to cause a seismic evaluation of the structure to be performed if the owner converts the structure to a condominium.  Because the risk of collapse of a structure should be discovered and disclosed or fixed before selling converted condominiums, I give this bill the thumbs up.

3.  H.B. 406 (Homeowner Association Registration Amendments) which does virtually nothing.  The current law requiring every HOA to register with the state as an HOA gives an HOA 90 days to update its information with the state when any of the information changes or becomes outdated (e.g., the HOA changes property managers).

This bill says that an HOA that hasn’t updated is still in compliance with the law until that 90 days is up, as if that wasn’t already clear.  Why else would the 90 days have been given if it wasn’t as a safe harbor?  The answer is it wouldn’t have been.  If you weren’t in compliance the minute your information changed but before you updated your info with the state, there would be no point in giving 90 days to update your information.  Because this bill doesn’t change anything whether it passes or not, I don’t give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down.

Thumbs Down

4.  Finally, S.B. 56 (Homeowner Association Reserve Account Amendments) amends the current reserve analysis law by changing the required frequency of a reserve analysis (or reserve study) and the review and update of that reserve analysis.  The current requirement is to cause a reserve analysis to be conducted every five years and reviewed (and updated, if necessary) every two years.  S.B. 56 would require a reserve analysis to be conducted every six years and reviewed (and updated, if necessary) every three years.

This would fix what some might see as a mismatch of years between the analysis and the review and update in the current law so it would be more spread out.  However, in our experience, more frequent review and update of a reserve study is generally good practice and necessary, not less.  So, always remember, this law is only intended to establish a minimum requirement and every association should decide on their own what they need to be doing to protect the investments of their homes and the long term viability of their common area improvements and infrastructure.

Because this bill falls short of fixing the problems with the current law noted in my blog post here (link), I give it the thumbs down.

I know other bills are out there in the works (for better or for worse) that may or may not be run this legislative session.  I’ll provide updates as the legislative session progresses.


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