Condominium and Homeowners Associations

In the last installment of the series, I went through some of the terms that Associations need to know when a Unit Owner files for Bankruptcy.  This edition will talk about the “Automatic Stay” and how it affects Creditors like an Association. The first thing to remember is that Bankruptcy is a way to allow people who have debts to get a fresh start.  The Automatic Stay gives Debtors some cooling off time.  It is a period where Debtors do not have to worry about anyone trying to collect against them.

How Does an Automatic Stay Limit Collections?

When someone files for Bankruptcy, they automatically get protected by an Automatic Stay.  Basically, the Automatic Stay stops all actions against the Debtor. The Automatic Stay prohibits anyone from starting or continuing any kind of legal action against a Debtor that does any of the following:

Continue Reading Condominiums, Homeowners’ Associations and Bankruptcy: The Automatic Stay

Has your Board, especially if it has a financial professional on it, ever looked with dismay at the low interest that a Capital Reserve Fund is earning?  They may think that if they could get a better return on that Reserve Fund, then they could do more projects.  Or they could reduce assessments.

This is when they ask about investing the Reserve Funds. Some of the questions that I get the most are:

  • How can an Association invest their capital reserve funds?
  • Does the Association need to keep its money in CDs?
  • Can it invest in the market to get a better return?


Continue Reading Can an Association Invest Its Capital Reserve Funds?

In the last installment of this series, I explained that Bankruptcy is a federal law designed to help people who owe money get a fresh start.  In this part, I want to explain some terms that are helpful to remember.

These are going to be the way that I think of the terms – in plain English.  If you want to see the definitions in the official United States Bankruptcy Code, you can look here.

Continue Reading Condominiums, Homeowners’ Associations and Bankruptcy: What is an “Automatic Stay” and Other Terms You Need to Know

Bankruptcy helps people who can no longer pay their debts get a fresh start.

This is the statement that comes at the very top of the page for the United States Bankruptcy Courts. Every accountant and attorney who has ever taken a class on Bankruptcy has heard this said in the first five minutes of the first day of class.

Bankruptcy is first and foremost a societal method to help a person who cannot pay their debts (the “Debtor”).  Current Bankruptcy laws also try to make things as fair as possible to the people who are owed money (the “Creditors).

But we always need to remember that Bankruptcy is there to protect the Debtor.

Continue Reading Condominiums, Homeowners’ Associations and Bankruptcy: What is Bankruptcy?

Collection of assessments is one of the biggest headaches for many Community Associations.  Most of the time, collections follow a standard process.  It might be slow and take several steps.  But, since assessments are liens on the unit and since an Association can collect all of its attorneys’ fees and costs, an Association can collect all of its assessments most of the time.

However, when a Unit Owner files for Bankruptcy, the collection process changes.

Collecting Unpaid Assessments during a Bankruptcy

I have worked with a number of Associations who thought that once a Unit Owner filed for Bankruptcy, they had to write off all of their uncollected assessments.

I also have seen plenty of others do nothing while the Bankruptcy process lumbers on.  This just makes the already large delinquency even bigger.

Associations can collect unpaid assessments when a Unit Owner is in Bankruptcy. 

Continue Reading Condominiums, Homeowners’ Associations and Bankruptcy: How Does a Unit Owner Bankruptcy Affect Collections?

Now that the weather is warming, residents are taking to the sidewalks, walking trails and open spaces of their Community Associations.  Here are some reminders for property managers and board members.

Homeowners’ Associations are not required to protect residents from dogs

With everyone out walking their dogs and children soon to be out of school, Associations often ask if they are required to make rules and regulations to control dogs.  Associations are not required to protect residents from other people’s pets.

But, if the Association does create rules and regulations to control dogs, it needs to enforce them.

Continue Reading Reminders for Condominiums and Homeowners’ Associations: People Coming Out of Their Homes Edition

At the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021, airlines began changing their rules with respect to emotional support animals.  United, American, Delta, Jet Blue and Southwest Airlines (as well as many local and regional air carriers) have decided that emotional support animals are not permitted on flights.  Trained service dogs, however, are still permitted on flights.

Despite these recent changes, the rules that apply to airlines are not the same as the ones that apply to housing.  I have written a number of posts about emotional support animals and where they can go:

These blog posts cover situations when someone requests an emotional support animal in relation to housing.  These cases often come up when a condominium or apartment building does not permit pets and someone requests a reasonable accommodation to allow a support animal.

In today’s post, I want to make sure that associations and landlords do not get confused and try to follow the recent examples of the airlines.

Continue Reading Are Dogs Allowed on Airlines? An Update on Emotional Support Animals

On February 11, 2021, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that it will begin to enforce the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  This is a significant change because in many states, including Pennsylvania, a person’s sexual orientation and/or gender identification has not been treated as a protected class.

Moving forward, housing providers, like landlords and condominium and homeowners’ associations, will need to treat sexual orientation and gender identity the same way that they treat race, color, gender, nationality, disability and familial status.

Reasonable Accommodations

Most of my posts on Lancaster Law Blog that deal with the Fair Housing Act talk about emotional support animals. All of the emotional support animal stories involve someone with a disability requesting a reasonable accommodation.

Continue Reading The Fair Housing Act Will Enforce Prohibition on Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

This time of the year, our thoughts turn to family and friends.  Maybe we reflect on the past year or look forward to the next.  For association boards and property managers, these happy thoughts are interrupted by questions about snow removal. When do we call snowplows? What kinds of deicers should we use? And does our association have any liability for slips and falls?

Continue Reading HOA Snow Removal: Your Questions Answered

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania received $3.9 billion in aid from the federal CARES Act for the coronavirus pandemic.  In May, the Pennsylvania General Assembly directed $175 million of that aid to the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) to provide help to renters and homeowners struggling to make ends meet.  Of that $175 million, $150 million