KASS: When the dogs are barking – for a dog park

By: Benny Kass//August 14, 2018//

KASS: When the dogs are barking – for a dog park

By: Benny Kass//August 14, 2018//

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Q:       Recently some residents of our condo community have asked our Board to convert a portion of the common elements to a dog park. The Board appears to be seriously considering approving the request. Other residents are opposed.
Our Declaration states that the bylaws of the community must be followed when converting a portion of the common elements for a purpose other than what was originally intended. Our bylaws require a vote where 2/3 of the community must agree. Barbara.

A:   Barbara. Have you alerted your board of directors to the bylaw requirements? Can you muster a number of owners to support you and call for a special meeting to vote on this issue? Under all condo documents, a special meeting must be called if the required percentage spelled out in the documents are met. Often this requires 20 or 25% of the owners to petition the board to call a special meeting. And keep in mind, a special meeting can only discuss – and vote – on the issues raised in the petition for that meeting.

Finally, you should consider retaining a local real estate attorney to give you a legal opinion as to whether the board can convert the common area as they want to do.

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Q:     As a current condo owner, and past President of our condo association (loved your pointing out it may not officially be an HOA), our condos just had to replace the roofs on all 5 of our buildings (total of 135 units) even though the oldest of our buildings is only 10 years old. Bottom line on the reason is: too many leaks and poor roofing tiles (yes, they met code–no surprise there, but they blew off with every gust of wind), and our lawyer suggested not pursuing it legally due to time, meaning more leaks and damage to repair, and expense for legal fees. Plus, thanks to the first President of the board (yours truly of course) we had set up reserve funds for all the major building systems to cover these kinds of events. We had the money already.

When the owners first took over the association from the builder, the board elected me president. Another board member had lived in two other condo communities, and she knew a lawyer who specialized in Condo laws and cases for construction issues. We hired him, and he recommended having reserve studies done of each building to spot construction errors and the like. We then hired an engineering company for the studies. The studies recommended which reserve funds to set up, and how much money to put into each of them. Fortunately, all the boards after mine have maintained the discipline of making those payments. It was an easy decision for our owners to approve replacing the roofs since we had the money at hand.

Of course, only two people have expressed appreciation for my actions back when to set all that in motion — my wife, and our property manager.

Thanks for your thoughtful articles. I read them closely and pass copies long to others who are interested. I would suggest an article on the trials and tribulations of board members, and especially presidents. You have touched on it several times, but I fear the unvarnished truth would make all readers run from the responsibilities and headaches. It is unfortunate because you want good people on the board. Note that I have not served on the board since my 2-year term was up 8 years ago. Steve.

A:     Steve, thanks for the comments from an “insider”. Yes, in my opinion, every association must obtain a reserve analysis study at least every five years. This will assist the board – and management – in preparing future budgets. Some owners always will object to paying a few extra dollars a month into a reserve account, claiming this benefits future owners. But from my experience, the great majority of owners would prefer to pay a little every month rather than be hit with a huge special assessment when the roof needs to be replaced, or the elevator needs a major overhaul. Do you remember this advertisement: “pay now, or pay later”?

Q:   Your article on condo noise was very interesting. Let me tell you about my experience. I was hearing a noise that sounded like a car alarm, but not as loud. I checked outside and in the garage and it wasn’t there. I (politely) asked my neighbors if they heard it. They didn’t. I had my furnace checked. It was fine. When my daughters came to visit, they didn’t hear it. Then, one of my daughters suggested that I get my ears checked. Yup–I have tintinitus (also called “tinnitus”). The continual noise can be masked by playing a radio having a TV on. It started when the allergy season began this year. So, depending on what the noise is, if no one else hears it, get checked for tinnitus. (And, by the way, when I saw my internist for the referral to the audiologist, he said that it wasn’t mental. “You’re too articulate for that,” he said.) Alice.

A:     Alice. Thank you for sharing your very personal story. Although I do get a lot of emails with personal stories, generally I refrain from writing about them. However, since many people have complained about noise in their condo (or rental) apartment, I thought this was an interesting point to make.

Noise is subjective. As I have often written, my definition of noise is my son’s definition of music. Alice properly points out that there may be a medical reason why you are hearing noises that no one else hears.

So first, see if others hear the noise. If not, talk with your family and your doctors.

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