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News reports from various states

Homeowners say HOA crossing the line selfie stick
HOA cuts off water to disabled resident for unpaid fines
KCSA election amendment shot down by homeowners
Greenbrier Village Settles Lawsuit Alleging Unlawful Discrimination
Feds sue Minnetonka condo over its ban on playing in grass
California homeowners face fines for children playing
Condo costs are killers
Victims of ‘Ninja Robbers’ suing HOA
The Michigan Legislature Has Dealt You a Severe Blow
Holly Geraci, condo owner, sues over having to share elevator with dogs
Peter Geraci's wife loses lawsuit to keep dogs off her condo's elevator
Service-dog flap at Aspen condo complex goes to court
Condo wars: How a water leak turned into a $30 million lawsuit
Purple playground poses problem for Lee's Summit family
Neighboring condo owners say water being stolen, then fires
Unfriendly, uncooperative condo board makes life tough
Can't find the HOA president to serve him court application
State Farm sues condo association for failing to repair a leak
HOA lawsuit rachets up

Homeowners say HOA crossing the line selfie stick
ABC 10 News
Cristin Severance
7:31 PM, Mar 17, 2015
San Diego:

Mira Mesa homeowners were furious after the doors to their HOA meeting were locked and only certain people were allowed in on Monday night.

A man who said he was hired by the board only let people in one at a time but they had to be on a list and have scheduled hearings. After the hearings, the man announced it was time for open session.

Team 10 tried to ask the HOA board president, attorney or board member to step outside to talk but the security guard ran and blocked both entrances.

Many homeowners told Team 10 they will fight to change the rules or the board members.


HOA cuts off water to disabled resident for
unpaid fines

By Tom Regan
Thursday, March 12, 2015

The family of a woman recovering from multiple surgeries including a tracheotomy, is outraged a property management has cut off her water for unpaid fines, including parking violations accessed against nurses who came to provide care.
"I have never seen anything like this before. They shut her water off for frivolous fines. For parking, for a dog violation," said daughter Tammy Kadar.

The Stockbridge property management company is called Grace Management.


KCSA election amendment shot down by homeowners

The Virginia Gazette
Ames City Virgina:

An amendment to the Kingsmill Community Service Association bylaws that dissident home owners said would make it impossible for anyone who disagreed with the board to ever be elected, was defeated soundly at a special meeting held at the Marriot Double Tree Thursday night.


Greenbrier Village Settles Lawsuit Alleging Unlawful Discrimination Against Families with Children in Violation of Fair Housing Act
The United States Department of Justice
Friday, March 20, 2015

The Department of Justice today announced a settlement agreement between the United States, the Greenbrier Village Homeowner’s Association Inc. (Greenbrier), Gassen Company Inc. (Gassen) and an individual Gassen employee to resolve a lawsuit filed on Nov. 25, 2013.

“Housing discrimination has no place in Minnesota,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger of the District of Minnesota.


Feds sue Minnetonka condo over its ban on playing in grass
Here is a background report.


California homeowners face HOA fines for children playing on driveway, sidewalk
ABC 10 News Digital Team, Cristin Severance
24 March 2015
There are no wheeled toys -- including, but not limited to, bicycles, scooters, rollerblades, skateboards or roller skates -- allowed to be ridden in the HOA's common areas. Common areas include driveways, sidewalks and streets in the complex.

According to the property manager, it's for safety reasons, but resident Karen Deviolini said, "You're fined because you live in a place where kids can't be kids."


Condo costs are killers
Situation: Her Arizona condo costs a small fortune every year for single woman planning retirement


Victims of ‘Ninja Robbers’ suing HOA

Richard DeBoest is a partner at Goede, Adamczyk & DeBoest. He is not involved in the recent lawsuit, but represents several homeowner’s associations and recommends his clients to stay out of the security business.

“We tell them call it access control,” said DeBoest.  “Don’t say we’re providing security because then if the security fails, they’re gonna say ‘well, you told us you were providing security.'”

DeBoest tells WINK News, the primary purpose of a homeowners association is to enforce the rules for landscaping, leasing, pets and parking. Basically, anything that could help keep property values up.


Robert Meisner says condo/homeowners associations beware: The Michigan legislature has dealt you a severe blow
25 March 2015

"Here's the hitch," says Meisner. "Every condo, homeowners/cooperative association is a nonprofit corporation, so the new laws apply to them. Among the things these homeowners need to know is that their boards of directors, officers, and others may already be virtually immune from liability and accountability to the association, even for gross negligence and certain intentional acts."

Meisner says that he is also concerned that the changes in the law take away much of the traditional democratic participation of the members of non-profits and make it easier for entrenched directors to remain in office. He says this allows directors to be elected without a meeting, eliminating open debate, passing matters at membership meetings without prior notice and even holding membership meetings without notice to the members.


River North condo owner sues over having to share elevator with dogs

09 April 2015
A woman diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome because a dog once attacked her is suing her condominium association, saying she was forced to share elevator rides with dogs and their hostile owners.

Holly Geraci, wife of Chicago bankruptcy lawyer Peter Frances Geraci, says dog owners and walkers at Union Square Condominiums have physically and verbally assaulted her.


Peter Geraci's wife loses lawsuit to keep dogs off her condo's elevator
Chicago Patch
25 April 2015

CHICAGO, IL — The wife of Peter Francis Geraci, the Chicago bankruptcy lawyer known for his TV commercials, won't be taking dog-free elevator rides to the couple's penthouse after a federal jury rejected last week her claim that her condo association needed to provide her with a lift that prohibited canines.

The verdict in Holly Geraci's housing discrimination lawsuit against the Union Square Condominium Associationcame Thursday in U.S. District Court, according to the Chicago Tribune. Holly Geraci had filed the suit in March 2015 after the association for the River North development on Hubbard Street that she and her husband have lived in since 2000 wouldn't make allowances for her fear of large dogs.

According to Geraci's lawsuit, the condo group's refusal violated the Fair Housing Act and the Illinois Human Rights Act because the association wouldn't accommodate for Geraci's post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition she's suffered from after a German shepherd attack as a child left her afraid of large dogs. But Graham Miller, a lawyer for the association, told the Tribune that the jury didn't believe that Geraci's disability fell under those defined by the housing act.

Neither Geraci nor her attorney commented about the verdict, but Miller said he could forsee an appeal in the future.

"I don't know what they'll do with this case," Miller told the Tribune. "They certainly take litigation to its extreme."

Union Square did not allow dogs when the Geracis moved in to their penthouse, but the development made an exception for the couple's an older, 10-pound older cairn terrier. The condo building eventually lifted the rule entirely in 2004. However, Geraci began to complain to the association about sharing a confined space with the dogs after a few elevator run-ins with the pets and their owners.


Service-dog flap at Aspen condo complex goes
to court

The Aspen Times
By: Rick Carroll
19 May 2015

A federal complaint accuses an Aspen condominium association and property-management firm of discrimination by not making accommodations for a seizure-prone tenant with a service dog.

Alvaro Arnal, the joint owner of a unit at Aspen View Condominiums on Midland Avenue, is suing the association and First Choice Properties & Management in the U.S. District Court of Denver. His suit accuses the defendants of discrimination, retaliation and interference with contract.


Condo wars: How a water leak turned into a $30 million lawsuit

Washington Post
By Roxanne Roberts
29 June 2015

It started with a leak, just a little water on a hallway floor.

That led to questions about bathtub installation, then sprinkler issues and finally allegations of improper fireproofing. Now, all the residents of 3303 Water Street have to pack up their multimillion-dollar condominiums this summer and move out for repairs.

The residents expected perfection, or something close to it. They assumed that paying millions for a luxury condo guaranteed a certain immunity from board politics, special assessments and other real estate nightmares. Instead, they spent three years embroiled in an expensive and nasty $30 million lawsuit, and now they have to vacate while construction workers drill holes in their carefully decorated walls. To say that the owners are not pleased would be a clenched-teeth understatement.


Purple playground poses problem for Lee's Summit family
Homeowner's association threatens jail if swing set not removed
By Scott McDonnell

A purple playground has become a problem for a Lee’s Summit family after their homeowner’s association is threatening them with fines, sanctions and even jail time if it’s not removed.

The family said it’s fed up and won’t keep quiet about the situation.

The playground which was built by the family wound up getting a purple paint job as a compromise. The kids wanted pink, but settled on purple. Marla Stout said they found a purple-tinted wood stain from Home Depot.

The Raintree Lake Neighborhood Homeowner’s Association wasn’t happy about the compromise.

“We got a notice that we were being fined by the HOA," Stout said.

That was last year. The family fought it and won, but the dispute wasn’t over yet. The family received more letters outlining more serious consequences.

“(The letters said) that if we didn’t remove the swing set from the subdivision in a couple of weeks, we go to jail,” Stout said.

She said the family talked to all of the neighbors who could see the playground from their homes and asked them to sign a petition saying that the color didn’t bother them. Stout said that the homeowner’s association told them it wasn’t good enough.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Dillen Steeby, who lives next door. He said he sees the purple playground quite a bit and the homeowner’s association’s opposition to it has him seeing red.

“I’m really perturbed that they would waste money pursuing something like this,” Steeby said. “Money on court costs and lawyer’s fees to attack really good people like this and go after a swing set.”

The homeowner’s association did not respond to a request for comment Monday. HOA guidelines require a playground to be “subdued and within harmony with other colors of the community.”

The Stout family said the next step will be a trip before a judge. There will be a community meeting Tuesday night.


Neighboring condominium owners say water being stolen by Tymber Skan residents
23 November 2015

Residents of The Village say someone has tapped their water lines and run hoses to units next door at Tymber Skan, which has been without water for two weeks.

The Orlando Utilities Commission cut water service to Tymber Skan because the home owners association was more than $100,000 behind on payments.

Since then, owners at The Village say water has been stolen from the outdoor spigot at a vacant unit. Another effort to tap into Village water lines left water gushing out until an 85-year-old resident got out in the rain and cut the line underground.

“I got it as much as I could, but it was too tight to get it completely shut off,” said resident Ann Tucker.

Village homeowners took a photo of a hose run from their property to Tymber Skan, showing it set up in a series that ran over a fence and a tree.
Tucker admitted the survival skills of the Tymber Skan residents holding out during the water outage was impressive.

“Well, that’s true, too, but it’s harming us because it’s costly,” she said.

OUC estimated that between illegal usage and unregulated water flow caused by tapped lines, Village residents are losing as much as 10,000 gallons of water a day.

Fully-involved blaze knocked down by firefighters at Tymber Skan condo complex
13 July 2016

Fire destroys buildings at Tymberskan apartments

ORLANDO, Fla.—An apartment fire at the troubled Tymber Skan condominium complex was reported Monday morning, accompanied by a black plume of smoke billowing hundreds of feet in the air.

Orange County dispatchers received several calls about the fire at about 8:45 a.m. in the 4100 block of Inglenook Lane, officials said.

Four empty, abandoned units, accounting for about 8,000 square feet, were destroyed in the fire, officials said. It took more than a dozen firefighting units to get the blaze under control.

“When crews arrived at the scene, there were flames through the roof,” said Kat Kennedy of Orange County Fire Rescue. 

The city of Orlando has been cleaning out the condo complex.

The county said that many of the remaining 38 buildings do not have running water or electricity, and 12 buildings have already been demolished.

Eight more units are set to be demolished sometime in 2016.

This is at least the second serious fire reported at Tymber Skan this year, with the other taking place on April 25 that burned several empty units.

The state fire marshal is investigating Wednesday’s blaze to determine how and where it started.


Unfriendly, uncooperative condo board makes
life tough

Condo Association Blog
10 May 2016
A condo board has gone self-managed and will not show records or hold elections.

"When I was on the board before all of this the current treasurer told me he wanted to go self managed and cook the books so he wouldn't have to pay assessments. I want to see the financials to see if he is paying or not or even allowed the other board members to not pay either."

I know that a new condo president in Scarborough hasn't paid his unit's fees since he was elected six months ago. Seems like this can be a problem everywhere.—CondoMadness


HOA community tries to oust President
Fox5 Georgia
By: Dana Fowle
24 November 2015
22 July 2016

AUSTELL, Ga. - "Why don't you show up to the meetings with all the people? We're trying to vote you off," yelled a homeowner to the HOA president.

And that right there sums up the friction between the Cobblestone Community's homeowners and their association president Blake Kenya.

"We have had practically no voice, and we want to bring everything back to the community," homeowner Merinda Hutchings Donovan told her neighbors.

It was a common complaint from the nearly 50 neighbors who gathered on a Saturday morning to say that their homeowner association president, Mr. Kenya, won't allow new elections and wanted $100 to make copies of the homeowners' association books.

"It's not a dictator situation; we all have something to say," piped in another neighbor.

At the association's recent annual meeting, Merinda Hutchings Donovan, one of the neighbors in this well-kept, middle class, Austell neighborhood, says homeowners asked for new board member elections.

Hutchings Donovan, explained, "He basically stated last month that he was not going to allow it."

So some in the community sent out a flier urging homeowners to meet at the public library to talk about their concerns. Mr. Kenya pushed back circulating his own "alert" calling the meeting a "scam," calling organizers "oppositionists." He said he even notified police.

The Fox 5 I-Team asked him how it's a scam to have a private meeting in a public facility.

"It wasn't private. I have the leaflets, the actual ones that went out. They put the board on there," said Blake Kenya Cobblestone Community HOA president.

He says organizers claimed it was a board meeting. Neighbors say, no, they simply invited the board to attend.  Instead of joining in, the Cobblestone Community's message board read that Saturday "No Meeting Today." So a neighbor positioned himself under it to say, yes, there is.  Police were called.

The man with the sign told the gathering, "They told Blake I had the right to stand over there. I just want everyone to know he's doing everything in his power to keep us from coming together."

"It's been a long time."

The by-laws show that board member terms max out at three years. Neighbors says he's been there long past that. Mr. Kenya himself told the Fox 5 I-Team "It's been a long time."

Another frustrated neighbor said, "One person, not even the president of the United States of America, should have that kind of power."

But, Mr. Kenya said he was in recent years re-elected.

"We held elections. Yes, ma'am. I'm going to let you see everything in writing," he said.

But Mr. Kenya later called to say he couldn't show us any records - voting records, spending records, none of it - because of pending litigation with 15-year resident Stephen Green.

"It's comical!"

Homeowner Stephen Green says he didn't pay this year's association dues in protest, in part, over not being able to see an accounting of how their money is being spent.

"I didn't pay this year, but I paid the other 14 years."

The association put a lien on his property. Mr. Green sued saying the Cobblestone Community Homeowners' Association, according to the secretary of state's office, dissolved back in 2005. The association counter-sued calling his lawsuit "frivolous" and "abusive." That same day, Cobblestone re-registered with the state.

Meantime, many of the other neighbors are circulating a petition to have new elections and a fresh start.

"He doesn't want to give it up for some reason. This means a little more to him for some reason, " said Merinda Hutchings Donovan.

Some of the homeowners in the Cobblestone Community Association got a lawyer, held a special election and voted in a whole new board. Sounds like that would be the end of it. But, it's still not over.
"We actually had an election April 30th. We invited our attorney to make sure we were following everything by the letter of the law," said Merinda Hutchings-Donovan, the newly elected board president.

In a letter to the years' long HOA president Blake Kenya, the new board informed him "your term expired" and demanded he turn over all of the "books, records" and "banking information."
"He decided to send his own letter that said, 'Oh no, that's not true,' Ms. Hutchings-Donovan said. 
Yes. He sure did. Blake Kenya fired back calling the election "inaccurate" and "false."
The new president asserted, "It's a done deal."
On paper maybe, but not so much in practice, because when the Fox 5 I-Team talked to Blake Kenya he wouldn't commit to stepping down. 
The newly elected board is tired of waiting, so they filed suit against Blake Kenya. The suit claims he continues to represent himself as the head of the Cobblestone Community Association and has "deposited and expended funds collected...from members of the association for unknown purposes..."  They want him to walk away from the job and hand over all accounting and banking records.

deputies haven't been able to find Kenya to serve him.

But here's the problem, according to the new board's attorney, deputies haven't been able to find Kenya to serve him.
"We filed a lawsuit, but we can't even get it delivered to him," said Merinda Hutchings-Donovan.
And so here they are. A new board has been elected yet access to the Cobblestone Community Association's books is still out of reach. They don't even have the keys to the message board. They post handmade signs in their yards to deliver messages about meetings.
"We actually have to use this, utilize these signs. We have two, maybe three of these, actually have have two or three of these," said the new president with one of those handmade sign.
And a basic question I asked Blake Kenya on the phone still goes unanswered.... "This is a volunteer position. Why won't you let go?


State Farm sues condo association for failing to repair a leak

Louisiana Record
Carrie Bradon
22 July 2016

GRETNA – State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. is seeking damages, claiming that a condominium failed to properly repair damages in an apartment.

State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. filed a suit against Whitney Place Condominium Association Inc. and Scottsdale Insurance Co. in the 24th Judicial District Court on June 23.

According to the claim, Leola Welty owned a property at 2712 Whitney Place in Metairie. Following her purchase of the property, the suit states that the chiller lines for the HVAC system of Welty's unit, which are owned by the defendant, began to leak and cause damages to her property. The suit states that the lines were allegedly repaired, but that on June 26, 2015, they again began to leak and caused more damages to Welty's property. The condo association allegedly ceased offering help in the repair of the lines.

The defendant is accused of negligence and fault through allowing such a condition to exist, failing to properly repair the lines and breaching the contract with the apartment owner.

The plaintiff is seeking an unspecified amount in damages. The plaintiff is represented by Blaine T. Aydell and W. Ransom Pipes of Hannah, Colvin & Pipes in Baton Rouge. The case has been assigned to Division H Judge Glenn B. Ansardi.

The 24th Judicial District Court Case number 762240


HOA lawsuit rachets up
By Eric A. Howald
23 September 2016

A lawsuit filed against the McNary Estates Homeowners Association (HOA) citing violation of state and federal fair housing laws has escalated to a new level.

The HOA refused to provide accommodations for a family with a disabled daughter in 2015 and it eventually ended with the family selling their home and moving away after almost a decade of ownership.

The woman, Khrizma Kuhn, and her parents, Renee and Gary, filed a lawsuit against several parties in relation to disagreements in January 2015. Now lawyers for the Kuhn family are asking for a partial summary judgement on the facts of the case.

“We feel the law is crystal clear in this case and we’re asking a judge to make a determination that the law was violated,” said Kuhn attorney Dennis Steinman.

In April 2015, the Kuhn family requested a waiver from the HOA to park an RV in their driveway. Doing so without a waiver violated McNary Estates HOA rules. Khrizma, 34, suffers from Down syndrome, autism and other maladies that require access to a bathroom and a shower even on short trips.

The Kuhns presented the HOA board with letters from two doctors citing the medical necessity, but the request was denied and the family later met with hostility from neighbors.

When one neighbor claimed her view of the street was obstructed as she tried to pull out of her driveway, Renee purchased a parabolic mirror for her to install at the edge of her property. The neighbor declined to use it.
Another neighbor shoved Gary twice outside his home as the situation unraveled. Yet another began sitting outside her home monitoring the family’s activity.
“She had a chair and a notepad and did it for days,” Gary said in an interview earlier this year. “She was trying to log our behavior.”

The HOA did suggest alternatives such as parking the RV offsite or a van with a chemical toilet, but neither fully addressed the situation. The van would have lacked a shower. Parking it offsite would have left Renee without transportation as the Kuhns had to sell one of their vehicles to pay for the RV. Gary used the family’s other car for commuting to and from work.

The summary judgement request was filed in district court in Eugene. Teresa Girod, the president of the HOA, is also listed as an individual defendant.
Should a judge rule in favor of the Kuhn family, a jury could be assembled to determine damages, but Steinman said most cases are settled after summary judgements are issued.

Fair housing laws require that reasonable accommodations be made for those with disabilities to “use and enjoy their dwelling.” Steinman said lawyers for the McNary Estates HOA are basing their argument on a case out of Arizona state court which found that an owner could have made modifications to his garage to house an RV.

Because the Kuhns lived in a condominium and had a garage that shared a wall with their neighbor, there was no way to make changes to accommodate the RV, Steinman said.

“The Ninth Circuit Court and others have unanimously said that parking near where you live is essential to use and enjoyment of a dwelling,” Steinman said. “The issue here is that we feel the established law has been rock-solid in allowing these types of accommodation.”

The previous lawsuit had also listed the The Fountains at McNary, McNary Estates, the Phase 8 HOA and Richard LeDoux as defendants. The Kuhns settled with those defendants in mediation.

Steinman was not able to discuss mediation matters in the continuing case, but shed light on the ones already settled. At issue was the location of board meetings held in the homes of board members.

“There was a community space available that was wheelchair accessible, but they chose not to use it,” Steinman said.

Mediation resulted in all the Fountains and Phase 8 board members attending a fair housing training, review and adoption of reasonable accommodation procedures and monetary damages of $25,000.