HOA, condo & co-op news roundup (Nov. 11, 2019)

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

Religious discrimination costly for condo association; owners hit with huge special assessments; no solutions in sight for HOA community plagued by sinkholes or condominiums threatened by beach erosion; jury orders bad neighbor to pay $1M to condo association; another condo association near death.

New Jersey

HOA must pay legal fees for religious discrimination/fair housing lawsuit

 

A group of Orthodox Jewish residents of the Enclave at the Fairways (Lakewood) recently learned of a NJ court’s decision in their favor.

The homeowners had filed a fair housing discrimination lawsuit against their condo association in 2017, after the HOA chose to require electronic gate access in and out of their community.

In April, The court ruled that the Enclave’s new electronic gate access policy was discriminatory.  The Orthodox Jewish faith prohibits the use of electronics on the Sabbath, and the new gate access made it difficult for members and their guests to enter the Enclave on the holy day.

The residents and the condo association settled their dispute per a Consent Decree, and now The Enclave has been ordered to pay plaintiff’s attorney fees totaling more than $86,000.

This ruling follows a similar case last year, when New Jersey courts ruled against a condo association led by an Orthodox Jewish board. In this case, the condo association enforced rules limiting resident’s access to co-ed swimming at community pool.

Two owners sued, accusing the condo association of discriminating against its non-Jewish, non-orthodox residents. The owners prevailed, when the court made it clear that a condo association cannot discriminate in providing equal access to the common amenities.

Sources:

DISCRIMINATION IS COSTLY: Enclave at the Fairways ordered to pay $86K for Jewish group’s legal fees (Greater Lakewood)
November 1, 2019

NJ Circuit Court rules condo association’s swimming schedule violates Fair Housing Act

 


Florida

Condo owners hit with multiple special assessments

Owners of the Bridgeton North Condos in St. Petersburg are facing a special assessment of $1,150 per month for the next 15 months. The HOA says it needs $17,250 per unit to repair the facade of their condo building, to comply with city building codes.

Unit owner Jan Schmidt explains to Fox 13 News that owners have already paid $28,000 in special assessments for building repairs since she purchased her condo in 2016.

Schmidt, like many of her neighbors, is retired and living on a fixed income. But, if owners don’t pay their share of assessments, the condo association is prepared to file property liens.

Condominium HOA liens are subject to collection by foreclosure, if necessary, forcing  Schmidt and her neighbors to pay up, sell, or risk losing their homes.

Source:

Baffled condo owners asked for $17,000 each to pay for building repairs
By Natalia Verdina | Fox 13 | Published October 29 | Updated October 31

 

Efforts to stop sinkholes could cause more sinkholes, according to experts

It looks like there’s no easy solution to stop the spread of shallow sinkholes in Lakeside Woodlands. Pasco County has identified at least 76 “depressions” in the community in recent weeks.

A team of engineers commissioned by the County says that any attempts to fill or compact the underground cave system beneath the planned community is likely to make matters worse, not better.

The homeowners association first reported sinkholes surrounding a retention pond over the summer. Pasco County officials say the HOA will be responsible for the cost of any fixes.

Source:

Engineers: Hudson sinkhole remediation efforts could trigger further dropouts, affect homes
By Matthew McClellan| Published October 24
Hudson |FOX 13 News


Hawaii

Jury finds condo owner guilty of harassment, orders her to pay nearly $1M to condo association

Imagine being harassed by the condo neighbor from hell for three years.

Unit owners from the Windward Passage complex can finally breathe a sigh of relief, now that a jury has found Sheree Heke guilty of terrorizing her neighbors. The jury awarded $940,000 to the condo association, after taking only two hours to reach their verdict.

The jury based their verdict on video coverage of Heke pouring gasoline on the floor of the lobby and threatening to burn down the building. Another video shows Heke using her car as a potential weapon, nearly running over two condo residents in the parking garage. (See the video for yourself in the source link.)

While a landlord can order an unruly tenant to vacate their apartment, a condo association cannot easily oust a disruptive or potentially dangerous unit owner, without a lengthy legal process.

According to Hawaii News Now, Heke will most likely be forced to sell her unit to fulfill her legal obligation to Windward Passage condo association.

Source:

Kailua woman who terrorized neighbors for years ordered to pay $1M

By Rick Daysog | November 8, 2019 at 6:00 PM HST – Updated November 10 at 2:35 PM | HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow)

 


Michigan

Condo owners say if Army Corp of Engineers doesn’t stop severe beach erosion, they’ll lose their homes

For more than four decades, owners of  Warwick Shores Condominiums have been seeking a solution to severe beach erosion along the shores of Lake Michigan.

They blame the Army Corp of Engineers for ruining their beach when it built a harbor in the 1970s. They say the resulting shift in water currents eats away at the beach, despite repeated efforts to prevent damage with sand dunes.

Severe weather last month was responsible for destroying 30 feet of a dune that protects Warwick condos from winding up in the lake.

Condo owners say their units have lost 20 – 40% of their value in recent years, as the beachfront that once existed has all but disappeared.

Sources:

New Buffalo condo complex loses almost 30 ft of sand between deck, lake due to high waves
by Selina Guevara, WSBT 22 Reporter | Wednesday, October 23rd 2019

Lake Michigan residents fear that beach erosion, and costs to slow it, are far from over
By Ed Semmler South Bend Tribune | Oct 28, 2019

 

 

Little hope remains for a rehab of run down condo complex

Each month IAC sees at least one report of dilapidated condominium with a non-functioning condo association. This month, it’s the New Harbor Condominium in Benton Harbor.

According to a report in the Herald Palladium, about half of the condos — all of them owned by former manager, Gary Edgar — are now foreclosed.

It’s so typical of older condo complexes controlled by a handful of owner-landlords, who cannot agree on how to manage the association.

Only a few dozen residents remain, with one of the three buildings vacant. The units in the other two buildings don’t have heat or hot water. Most of the tenants have moved out, and it looks like there’s little hope for a turnaround at New Harbor.

Berrien County now owns many of the units due to property tax foreclosures. County Treasurer Bret Witkowski desperately hopes that a private investor will come forward with a redevelopment plan for New Harbor. ♦

Source:

The deteriorating condition of the New Harbor Condos
Beset by litigation and with half foreclosed on, there is no relief in sight
By LOUISE WREGE – HP Staff Writer, The Herald Palladium
Nov 9, 2019 Updated Nov 9, 2019