How to Challenge an HOA’s Rental Policy

Frustrated condo and townhouse owners who are not allowed to rent out their units under the HOA’s grandfather clause or a hardship exception often ask “Is there anything I can do to challenge the rental policy?”  The answer is yes, but the challenges will not be quick, easy, cheap, or necessarily successful.  The options include: … [Read more...]

Hide and Seek

Let’s talk about a real estate bill in the 2011 Minnesota legislative session.  Under MN Statute section 515B.4-108, purchasers of a condo, townhouse or cooperative unit get 10 days to review the home owner association (HOA) disclosure documents.  That 10-day clock starts … [Read more...]

Flag Displays and HOAs

The First Amendment protects a person’s right to free speech over any conflicting Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions of an HOA when the U.S. flag is involved. The federal Freedom to Display the American Flag Act  states that associations cannot prevent flag displays on the residential areas to which an owner has a “separate ownership interest or a right to exclusive possession or use."  This means owners generally can display the flag in their unit and on their limited common elements, like decks.  However, reasonable “time, place and manner” restrictions can be enforced to protect … [Read more...]

One for the Road

Have you ever wondered why some Minnesota cities operate liquor stores and bars?  When national Prohibition was repealed in 1933, states quickly designed their own systems for controlling liquor sales.  Minnesota’s law at the time allowed cities with less than 10,000 people to operate their own on-sale (bars) and off-sale (stores) businesses.  … [Read more...]

How to X-ray an HOA #9 – Putting It All Together (Conclusion)

Making wise decisions about buying into a condo or townhouse development requires more due diligence than purchasing a traditional single family home.  Once the needed info has been gathered, assigning relative weights to the pros and cons of different places becomes the next challenge.  It’s enough to make you wish there was an “Angie’s List” or a “Consumer Reports Buying Guide” for HOA communities.   Deciding which home is the best choice is a highly individual matter. But there are a few universal principles to keep in mind: Principle No. 1:  The 3 most important things about real estate … [Read more...]

How to X-ray an HOA #5- Delinquency Rates, Foreclosures and Short Sales

Buyers should be wary of cash-strapped developers or bank-owned buildings.  Developers and banks tend to lowball the cost of major repairs or improvements.  These groups may also fail to aggressively market the building or fix construction defects.  If the developer still controls the association, review the financial statements mentioned in Part 2 of this series.   Has the developer made the reserve fund deposits on time?  If instead, those payments have been deferred, try to verify the developer’s financial health and reputation.   If it has not already been disclosed, buyers should … [Read more...]

How to X-ray an HOA #4 – HOA Reserve Funds

Good HOA’s, like all good businesses, plan ahead.  Every HOA budget shows how much goes to the reserve fund which pays for capital expenditures as the need arises.   Whether the reserve fund balance will actually meet those needs has been a hot topic in recent years. … [Read more...]

How to X-ray an HOA #1 – Overview and MN Disclosure Law

This post kicks off a 9-part series on "How to X-ray a Home Owners Association (HOA).”  The posts will help you discover the inside scoop on an HOA’s financial health and social environment so you can decide if it's where you want to live.  The series will cover these topics: … [Read more...]

DISCLAIMER: No attorney-client relationship is created between the website owner and the website visitors, no matter what. The owner makes no claims or guarantees about the accuracy or completeness of the website contents and expressly disclaims liability for errors or omissions. No warranty of any kind, express, implied or statutory, is given for any contents, hyperlinks or other internet resources. Those accessing this website assume full responsibility for its use and agree that the website owner is not liable for any claim, loss or damage arising from that use.