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KASS: Differences between a lease and a license

Q:   I live in a 36 unit townhouse association. We are self managed, with an association president and a 7 member board. We pay monthly association dues for: common area expenses: landscaping , snow removal etc.

I have a brick driveway. The previous snow service severely scratched my bricks beyond repair with his plow and refused to repair the damage. I had my handy man complete the year.

The association hired a new snow contractor last fall. He included my driveway in his bid. The association signed his bid. I told them I’d get my own service.

Pay him directly and deduct my payments from my association fees. They said this was difficult, since they had a signed contract. They asked me to go along. I used their service for 2 snow falls. He did a terrible job. I brought my guy back, paid him as well as paying my association fees in full.

From the latest Board meeting minutes, they may give this guy another chance. I don’t want him on my drive way. Want to advise the Association NOW, before any contracts are signed, I’m getting my own guy, pay him directly and deduct his snow fees from my dues. OK? Do I face a possible lien? Wally.

A:   Yes, Wally, your association will most likely file a lien against you for non-payment. Community association living isn’t always easy; if your board entered into a contract– and if your board had the legal authority for the contract– whether you like it or not, you have to pay your share of those costs.

The board wanted to give that guy another chance. Why don’t you tell the board that if your driveway is ruined again, you will hold the board responsible. And check with your attorney what the statute of limitations is in your state. You still may have time to file a suit against the first snow contractor; and it may even be in your small claims court. Just a thought!

 

Q:     Some of our condo owners are renting out their units to AirBnb, which we believe is a violation of our ByLaws: rentals of less than 6 months are strictly prohibited. One owner claims that using AirBnb is not a rental, but a license, and thus is not a violation. Any suggestion? Andrea.

A:     Clever owner, but in my opinion he is completely wrong. Yes, there is a difference between a “lease” and a “license”. Oversimplified, a lease gives a tenant an exclusive right and interest in a property; it is a contract between landlord and tenant, and in general must be in writing. A license, on the other hand, does not have to be in writing and does not give any rights or interests in the property. Typically, also, a lease is for a definite period of time; a license can be terminated at any time. Your ticket to a hockey game is, in effect, a license for you to use Seat X on a particular day.

Nevertheless, whether you call it a license or a lease, it is a rental, and since it was for less than 6 months, it is a violation.

 

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