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Thread: Your rights in a private condo association

  1. #1
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    Your rights in a private condo association

    This isn't a published story but here seemed the best place to post it....

    Long story short, after more than 6 months of our condo home owners association telling us we could put in a pool lift: if we buy it, have it installed AND permenantly own the maintenance an liability, its finally out of the tall grass. Since two other units had people asking to use it too, I knew it would be a "common element." As such, it's maintenance would fall to the association (DOJ/HUD Joint Message*page 9, example 2 at https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/...ions_mar08.pdf.

    After a months long lack of response from HUD, we found our way to a guy from Fair Housing. He was immediatly VERY HELPFUL. Still the board deferred to their attorney's misguided opinion. Then the FH guy involved a HUD guy that set the attorney straight.

    Apparently HUD has a huge database of solved situations (their goal is to avoid litigation). That is why my agressive search for case law examples to show the board never found anything.

    We are considering bringing suit for the months that they denied her civil rights. Unlike our board, each of you understand the mental and physical therapy self access to the pool would have provided. Its a mixed emotion, but wanting to create case law for others to find in the future is compelling.

  2. #2
    I am or at least could be facing a somewhat similar issue. I am moving into a town home association development home are individual but under HOA . I will need to construct a ramp as home has two steps. The garage is a small two vehicle and i have a porch lift that i will be using. I notified the board that i would need to construct a ramp on/over the sidewalk to use as a second entrance emergency exit in case of fire etc. They urged me to put it in the garage i explained that there would not be room in garage. So they said I could bring plans to the board but i would need to make the ramp out of composite decking and paint it white to match the decks in the rear of the units in the interest of "conformity". I personally think it would be ugly and stick out like a sore thumb, I was just planning to pour concrete over length of side walk so it would just blend in. This is also a more expensive way to go but i was actually thinking that it would look the most natural.

    My question Can the board actually tell me what i have to make my ramp out of? Also 2 doors down from me is a unit without steps just a sidewalk up to door. I am also wondering what my rights are in this situation as I don't believe the majority of people are or would be against my putting a concrete ramp in but evidently a couple over zealous board members are. I most likely will approach this diplomatically as I hate to get off to a bad start with association but on the other hand would be good to know my rights!

  3. #3
    Senior Member lynnifer's Avatar
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    Was told I don’t need a fire exit as newly constructed buildings have sprinkler systems. By the Fire Deputy Chief!!!
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    I only know what I have learned thus far, so mine is not a final answer. However: what I have learned is:
    1)There is an important difference between 'private' Associations, and those that are not.
    Public association are covered by the ADA rules.

    Private association are covered by HUD rules.

    The difference is that private Associtions do not allow any public functions (even use as a voting place), and they have must fewer than X (half?) of the units available for short term rental.

    Private must allow reasonable accommodation, however it's at your cost (purchase, install, maintenance, and removal (when it no longer needed). I am foggy, but I think they have oversight (can require it be UL approved, installed by a licensed contractor etc), and limited ability to define what you want to do so long as it's not too much of a burden (blocking other people's access etc).
    The example I pointed to in my original post was about an access path. Because it was available for other users, and they did use it, it was deemed a "common element" and effectively became an association assett.

    I will ask my guy for the URL of the HUD motherload of solved situations, and whom to contact to actually get a response.

    Good luck and please post what the outcome was!

  5. #5
    In CA the HOA board cannot prohibit you from making access modifications to your unit entrance, even on association property, but the HOA board CAN make decisions about what the modifications look like/how they are painted, etc. You should check to see what your state/local regulations say, if anything, on this.

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  6. #6
    Two steps should only be a foot rise, so not much in terms of intrusion to the landscape if done correctly. I agree with you painted wood will show, but concrete is expected at ground level and some ground cover plants will make it dissapear completely. Ground cover in front of wood is not such a good idea especially when there is a vacant space under it. I think the HOA worry is that the finish work of the concrete will be hasty and sloppy. Concrete is forever while wood comes out quickly. I suggest you finding a contractor with some quality examples of their work ahead of time to show the HOA.
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Other Bruce View Post
    This isn't a published story but here seemed the best place to post it....

    Long story short, after more than 6 months of our condo home owners association telling us we could put in a pool lift: if we buy it, have it installed AND permenantly own the maintenance an liability, its finally out of the tall grass. Since two other units had people asking to use it too, I knew it would be a "common element." As such, it's maintenance would fall to the association (DOJ/HUD Joint Message*page 9, example 2 at https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/...ions_mar08.pdf.

    After a months long lack of response from HUD, we found our way to a guy from Fair Housing. He was immediatly VERY HELPFUL. Still the board deferred to their attorney's misguided opinion. Then the FH guy involved a HUD guy that set the attorney straight.

    Apparently HUD has a huge database of solved situations (their goal is to avoid litigation). That is why my agressive search for case law examples to show the board never found anything.

    We are considering bringing suit for the months that they denied her civil rights. Unlike our board, each of you understand the mental and physical therapy self access to the pool would have provided. Its a mixed emotion, but wanting to create case law for others to find in the future is compelling.
    HOA has to provide ADA accomadations just like a business so if asked special parking, lowered access gates etc.

    I would put in a request for them to make the pool ADA compliant and if the refuse then use the refusal as your basis to have it heard in court.

    As of 2012 all pools that are public have to have ada enter and exit options.

    https://www.ada.gov/qa_existingpools_titleIII.htm

    Do some searching for a law firm that does ADA compliance law.

  8. #8
    Thanks for your responses to my and OtherBruces issue. I would expect i can reason with the HOA board and get the ramp i want. If concrete cost is prohibitive then it could get interesting. I will update as things progress. It just struck me really odd that they would want a white painted ramp when everyone else has a concrete sidewalk in the interest of "conformity" I think a board member may be over thinking also a wood ramp or even composite will get beat up with snow removal not sure if they thought of that.

  9. #9
    Senior Member djrolling's Avatar
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    I do not think an HOA is considered public. I also do not think the ADA covers HOA's I think that it is covered by the Fair Housing Act. My understanding is that if I want the common areas accessible they have to make reasonable accommodations but I foot the bill. I think what the OP points out is that he paid for the pool lift but since it is used by others it becomes part of the common area so to speak and the maintenance of the lift is shifted to the HOA. Bruce correct me if I misunderstood. The exception would be.... a HOA will not be subject to the ADA unless the HOA is operating what can be considered a “public accommodation.” So unless the pool is open to the public or some other common area is open to the public you are not going to be covered by the ADA in an HOA. You see the OP went to HUD though it took the Fair Housing guy to get things moving.

    Quote Originally Posted by RollPositive View Post
    HOA has to provide ADA accomadations just like a business so if asked special parking, lowered access gates etc.

    I would put in a request for them to make the pool ADA compliant and if the refuse then use the refusal as your basis to have it heard in court.

    As of 2012 all pools that are public have to have ada enter and exit options.

    https://www.ada.gov/qa_existingpools_titleIII.htm

    Do some searching for a law firm that does ADA compliance law.

  10. #10
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    DJRolling, you have my understanding correct. If your HOA does not allow public events (even use as a voting site), and less than ?50% of units are not avail for short term rentals, then you are not covered by the ADA, but HUD rules. You still have rights, they're just not as generous.

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