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News/Blog

News/Blog

April 1, 2015

Governor Herbert signed three more new condo laws and new community association laws in the last few days. H.B. 98 dealing with association rentals and fines will become law. S.B. 80 making minor modifications to the reserve statute will become law. Finally, S.B. 206 making significant changes the the revised nonprofit corporations act will become law. Keep updated on the Morris Sperry's website for more information on these important new hoa laws.

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March 31, 2015

Governor Gary Herbert signed H.B. 304 into law. H.B. 304 contains important new homeowners association laws and condo laws that will help associations minimize damage from flooding and freezing pipes. In short, the bill now allows community associations to give notice the electric and gas companies, stating that the association wants notice before the utility shuts off either eletrical or natural gas service. Upon receiving notice from the gas or electric company, the condominium association or HOA can take action to winterize the unit or pay the utilitites so that the pipes don't freeze. The Utah Community Association Institute Legislative Action Committee successfully introduced this bill in an effort to help with this destructive problem. Contact Morris Sperry for a complete outline of the new 2015 HOA laws. 

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March 23, 2015

On Friday March 20, 2015, the Department of Justice announced that the Greenbrier Condominiums in Minnesota agreed to pay $100,000 in compensatory damages to six families that suffered discrimination and $10,000 in penalties to the United States. The settlement ends a Fair Housing Act case started by the Department of Justice against the Association and one of its employees. The Association also has to establish new non-discrimination policies and end discriminatory behavior. The Greenbrier and its employee were alleged to have created and enforced rules that prevented children from equally enjoying the common areas and to have made statements indicating a preference against families with children. This case highlights the importance of an annual review of a Condo or hoa's rules and policies by a qualified HOA lawyer - such as those from Morris Sperry. The lawyers at Morris Sperry have significant experience dealing with Utah Fair Housing issues and complaints, including successfully defending several complaints brought against Condominium Associations. More importantly, Morris Sperry can advise associations on how to avoid these complaints in the first place and comply with what can sometimes be very subtle Fair Housing laws.  

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March 15, 2015

The 2015 Utah legislative session ended Friday.New Utah laws on hundreds of topics including new HOA laws for 2015 all await the Governor's signature. With the passage of 528 bills, the Governor has started the long process of signing bills. None of the new community association laws have been signed yet, but there is no reason to believe they would be subject to a veto. For now, community associations in Utah just wait and see to find out which new 2015 HOA laws the governor will sign. The governor has 20 days from the end of the session to veto or sign a bill. If he vetos the bill, it obviously does not become law. However, whether he signs the bill, or does not sign it but does not veto, it becomes law.

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March 12, 2015

One resident in a D.C. townhome obtained a court order (temporary restraining order) preventing the neighbor from smoking in the neighboring townhome. Smoke from tobacco, cigarettes, or marijuana is clearly a nuisance under the law in most states, including Utah. The Court in this case found that the smoke was making its way into the neighboring home, where a couple lived with one child and another on the way. The couple also sued for $500,000 in damages. Apparently the couple had tried to work it out informally and had tried mediation, but he smoking neighbor refused to take action to minimize the transmission of smoke. 

Unfortunately, smokers frequently take a hard line position about smoking in their homes, assuming that they don't have to worry about where the smoke from their cigarettes or tabacco products actual drifts to. That, of course, is not the law in Utah and most other states. Utah has a very strong nuisance statute and tobacco smoke is clearly a nuisance, in any amount. It also doesn't matter how the smoke gets in, as long as it does.

Morris Sperry has dealt with complicated nuisance and HOA smoking cases representing parties on both sides, the HOA and the owner. They are difficult cases because most people are not excited about quitting smoking or moving out of their homes. 

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March 11, 2015

 

HB 304, a new Utah HOA law for 2015, is one step closer to passage. The bill, explained in a prior Morris Sperry news articles, passed the senate and is now waiting for the governor's signature along with several other new HOA laws for 2015.  

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March 7, 2015

After an unpredictable and wild legislative process that saw the bill transform several times, SB 118 finally passed the Senate and the House. It now awaits the governor's signature. This bill took more turns than a blind mouse in a mile long maze. In its final form, this bill is a compilation of three different concepts. First, community associations now have even better tools to get past mistakes and roadblocks in the governing documents that prevent amendments. Second, this bill ended up with owner protections against associations who fail to comply with the new open meeting laws in HB 99. The Utah Senate committee required these changes but, through simple inadvertence, they didn't make it into HB 99 before it passed both houses. So, they ended up in SB 118. Finally, SB 118 was amended to include significant clarifications to the procedures for an owner requesting association documents and a new penalty provision if condominium associations or other community associations fail to comply with owner document requests. These provisions came instead of another bill the Sponsor intended to run and were also part of a cooperative drafting effort between the CAI LAC and the senator.

This bill reflects a careful balance between owner and association rights. Those associations who take the "high road" of transparency and compliance with the law, will see no problems with these new penalty provisions. On the other hand, those management companies, HOA attorneys, and associations who tend to view HOA relationships with owners as an "us" - the board and its advisors, against "them" - the owners, had better beware. The days of obstructing owners who want to attend meetings or see association records are coming to an end. Owners in townhomes, condominiums, and homeowners associations will no longer have to stand for stonewalling, unexplained delay, exorbitant document copying charges, and other common strategies employed by the "low road" associations and their advisors who try to obstruct owners in their legitimate requests for association documents. Without needing an attorney, owners will be able to file a claim in small claims court and obtain a $500 damage award if the association fails to comply with either the open meeting or the document production laws. If an owner gets an attorney, he or she has a right to recover reasonable attorney fees.

This bill faced opposition from the "low road" attorneys who think that every law granting HOA owner rights is a threat to associations. And for those associations they advise, it probably is. Fortunately, that narrow minded opposition was fleeting, weak, and had no impact on the passage of the bill. The Utah legislature understood the importance of these types of balanced laws that support owners’ rights. How could they not – the same types of disclosure and access laws apply to the government they serve in!

John Morris, an attorney at Morris Sperry, is proud to have helped written the laws in this bill and to have testified in favor of this bill at the capitol. Morris Sperry applauds and supports this type of legislation. This new HOA law respects the balance between HOAs and their owners and helps remind as all who the HOA serves – the owners! The Utah community association institute HOA LAC (legislative action committee) worked hard on this bill with senators who have encountered the "low road" HOAs and were set on punishing them. The result was an excellent balance that good HOAs and their advisors will appreciate and respect. The work on this bill also continued and strengthened a good working relationship between the LAC and the Utah legislature.

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March 6, 2015

HB 304 passed through the Utah Senate Transportation and Public Utilities and Technology Committee and was placed on the Senate consent calendar yesterday. The odds of this bill passing just went up significantly. Community Associations could soon have a tool that allows them to get notice from utility companies before power and natural gas are shut off by the utility company for lack of payment. The board or management committee will have a chance to either enter the unit and winterize the unit or pay the bill and keep the utilities on. The Utah Legislative Action Committee of the Utah chapter of the Community Association Institute worked on and proposed this bill to help reduce damage from freezing pipes and flooding in community associations. Hopefully, this will turn into a valuable tool for Utah condominium associations and PUDs. 

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March 3, 2015

A veteran manager in the Utah HOA industry recently told a lawyer at Morris Sperry that he manages a Utah community association in which the board (with the help of an attorney member) has decided that it is just too hard to get the required 67% approval of owners necessary to approve declaration amendments. So, in a clever solution to this problem, they decided that they will treat any owner who does not respond to a voting request as a "yes" vote. Not surprisingly, amendments to their declarations are now easier than ever! In a perverted twist on voting, unless they get more than 33% of the owners to vote "no," every amendment the board propose passes without any problemYou don't need a single person to vote "yes," or at all, to get amendments to the declaration to pass!

It only takes a minute to think of the fun any owner in this association could have. Just get enough owners to demand a special meeting and vote on a particular issue and your are in business. Sometimes it only takes a handful of owners to demand a special meeting. The board must send out the ballots and apply the same rules they are applying to their amendments. You don't like that rental restrictions . . . demand a special meeting and watch the association board scramble to gather enough no votes to prevent your amendment from passing! 

After you quit laughing, a hard reality sets in. The ultimate effect of this voting rule is a letter from an attorney hired by an owner demanding that the association undue all of its bogus declaration amendments and threatening a lawsuit. It is not a question of whether these amendments will be challenged, it is just a question of when and how much it will cost the Association in attorney fees to come to their senses and undue the amendments passed using this laughable voting rule.

Naturally, our veteran manager expressed concern over this voting practice and was told by the board that an outside attorney had offered a legal opinion and that this was a legal way of voting. This is why community associations (condominiums, PUDs, Townhomes, and homeowners associations) should seek out the advice of the HOA attorneys at the Morris Sperry law office. Community association law is a complex area of law with no mercy on general practicioners and dabblers who have one HOA case a year. Would you go to a divorce lawyer for estate planning? Would you want someone who handles personal injury cases to file your bankruptcy? The lawyers at Morris Sperry have one focus - HOA law. That's all they do. Why would you go anywhere else for your HOA legal questions and risk the type of advice that this poor association received?  

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March 2, 2015

Condominiums, Townhomes, and Homeowner Associations should be aware that playing music or movies in the clubhouse or in any common area to a group of owners and/or their guests could be a copyright infringement. The test is whether the display is a "public performance." That legal and factual analysis depends on the makeup of the group of people in attendance. Private parties in HOA clubhouses have been held to be public performances for purposes of the music played at those events. Any association considering any organized event in a clubhouse or common area at which a movie or music will be offered by the Association, should contact Morris Sperry for a quick analysis or make sure whoever they source for that entertainment complies with copyright law. 

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September 30, 2014

In a lively discussion, the lawyers at Morris Sperry and the managers at Community Solutions and Sales discussed the practical and legal side of reserves and the applicable laws. Everyone left the discussion better educated and better situated to serve our association clients. Morris Sperry looks forward to the next meeting with the Community Solutions managers so that we can continue to sharpen our skills and exchange ideas and experiences.

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September 17, 2014

John Morris, a lawyer at Morris Sperry, testified with Representative Gage Froerer before a joint session of the House and Senate Business and Labor Committees at the Utah State Capitol. They presented an overview of HOA legislation that will likely be up for passage in the 2015 legislative session. John gave a brief summary of potential laws impacting rentals in community associations, open board meetings, condominium declaration amendments, fines and warnings, utility shutoffs in condominiums and townhomes, and the hierarchy of governing documents and HOA laws including the declaration, bylaws, plat, articles of incorporation, Utah Condominium Ownership Act, Utah Community Association Act, and the Revised Nonprofit Corporations Act. These laws will impact associations throughout the state including in many cities and counties with high numbers of HOAs such as Salt Lake City, Park City, Heber, Ogden, St. George, Provo, Salt Lake County, Summit County, Wasatch County, and Washington County. Through the volunteer time of its attorneys, Morris Sperry continues its effort and dedication to create balanced and sensible community association and HOA laws. This is only one of the reasons that Morris Sperry remains Utah's best HOA law firm to be general counsel to homeowners associations and to represent homeowners and developers with HOA legal matters. You can listen to the testimony by following this link: http://utahlegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=14&clip_id=1...

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September 10, 2014

Morris Sperry Guests and all other participants in the CAI annual golf tournament had a great time. The lawyers and staff at Morris Sperry hosted several teams, all of whom enjoyed the day. Morris Sperry is looking forward to next year and to bringing even more guests out for a relaxing day of golf. Morris Sperry's guests included HOA managers and board members from Park City, Salt Lake City, Draper, and Provo. The HOA attorneys at Morris Sperry enjoy and look forward to the times when those in the industry get a short break from the tough job of managing and providing legal services to Utah community associations including condominiums, puds, townhomes, and homeowners associations.

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August 29, 2014

As part of Morris Sperry's effort to support its Park City attorneys and the local community, Morris Sperry joined the Park City Chamber of Commerce. Two Morris Sperry lawyers reside in Park City and Morris Sperry serves many clients in Wasatch County and Summit County. Morris Sperry looks forward to participating in Chamber activities and supporting Park City and community associations in the Park City and Heber City area.

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August 28, 2014

Quinn Sperry and Robert Rosing joined an exclusive group in 2014 by being named as a Super Lawyers Rising Star for the year 2014. No more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in any one state can be named to this list. Super Lawyers selects attorneys using a patented multiphase selection process. Peer nominations and evaluations are combined with third party research. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. This award further demonstrates Morris Sperry's commitment to the core requirement for providing good legal services - good lawyers!

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June 12, 2014

In a well attended event, Brandon Myers of Morris Sperry provided insight and explanation to the complicated issue of reserves. All condominiums, HOAs, townhomes, and PUDs must now take certain steps to obtain a reserve analysis and to deal with the question of how much to save in reserves. The lawyers at Morris Sperry are well versed in this statute and its requirements and can offer community association leaders the advice they need to comply with the requirements of the statute and avoid the serious penalties that can apply if they don't. The Utah CAI round table events offer a fantastic opportunity for community leaders to get good advice on important topics. Morris Sperry continues to support CAI and these events through hundreds of hours of volunteer attorney time.

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April 11, 2014

In another funny skit involving armed garden gnomes, the Morris Sperry team highlighted the serious issues arising when community associations warn and fine owners. The skit also presented some important issues that can arise if an owner requests a hearing. Morris Sperry continues its commitment to CAI and with training managers and homeowners.

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February 28, 2014

As part of Morris Sperry's involvement in the drafting and evolution of community association law in Utah, John Morris and others testified on behalf of the Community Association Institute Legislative Action Committee in a house committee hearing opposing a bill aimed at invalidating legally adopted rental restrictions. As he has been for the past several years, John Morris is heavily involved in changes to the law proposed in the 2014 legislative session.

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January 26, 2014

Morris Sperry has more Utah lawyers at the CAI national HOA law seminar than any other firm in the state. The lawyers took four days to learn and talk about cutting edge issues facing community associations along with over 600 community associations lawyers, managers, and insurance professionals from around the country.

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December 19, 2013

Both Brandon Myers and Ryan Connelly were selected by their peers as one of the Utah legal elite. This prestigious designation recognizes superior legal services across the state. This once again demonstrates Morris Sperry's commitment to clients and the profession.

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March 2, 2015

Condominiums, Townhomes, and Homeowner Associations should be aware that playing music or movies in the clubhouse or in any common area to a group of owners and/or their guests could be a copyright infringement. The test is whether the display is a "public performance." That legal and factual analysis depends on the makeup of the group of people in attendance. Private parties in HOA clubhouses have been held to be public performances for purposes of the music played at those events. Any association considering any organized event in a clubhouse or common area at which a movie or music will be offered by the Association, should contact Morris Sperry for a quick analysis or make sure whoever they source for that entertainment complies with copyright law. 

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February 26, 2015

Senate Bill 80 passed the Utah Senate yesterday and will now start its journey through the House of Representatives. SB 80, entitled "Homeowners' Association Reserve Fund" will require developers during the period of administrative control (the time developers control a new project) to provide a copy of the HOA governing documents and the most recent financials for the association in any sale of a unit or home in the community.

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February 25, 2015

HOA bill HB 304 passed out of the House Public Utilities and Technology Committee yesterday and is off to the floor of the Senate. As explained in an earlier news article on this site, this law would allow community associations to get advance notice when utilities will be turned off so that Associations can try to avoid freezing pipes and all the damage they cause in community associations. Representative Dixon Pitcher (Representative Pitcher's Website) of the Utah House of Representatives is sponsoring this bill. Representative Pitcher has been a great supporter of fair and balanced HOA laws and his constuents in District 10 should be pleased by his efforts. 

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February 25, 2015

SB 118 was amended and substituted today to include an after-the-fact change to HB 99, the HOA open meetings bill that recently passed both houses of the Utah Legislature and is waiting for the governor's signature. If the governor signs it, HB 99 will require HOAs to have most board meetings and management committee meetings open to all owners and will require notice of most of those meetings to owners who request notice. Consistent with the desires of the Utah Senate, a provision was added to SB 118 that will modify the new HOA open meeting law to provide for a notice, right to cure, and cause of action for an owner against an HOA that refuses to comply with the open meeting laws. This cause of action will allow an owner to recover a $500 minimium damage amount, an order that the association comply, and attorney fees if an HOA ignores the new open meeting requirements after a warning from the owner. As one of the draftsman of both the original HB 99 open meeting bill and of the changes required by the Senate, John Morris and the Morris Sperry team of lawyers are ready to advise HOAs in Utah (condominiums, townhomes, homeowners associations) on what they need to do to comply with this new law and all HOA laws. As a frequent advocate of owner rights, the Morris Sperry attorneys also remain willing to assist owners with enforcing their rights under this law and any other.  

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February 24, 2015

John Morris of Morris Sperry testified in favor of Senate Bill 118 (SB 118) today in the House Business and Labor Committee with Senator Todd Weiler. (Senator Weiler's Website)  Senator Weiler graciously allowed his original senate bill to be expanded to provide more help for Community Associations trying to amend governing documents (declaration, bylaws, articles of incorporation). SB 118 will limit the restrictions on amending governing documents so that no more than 67% of the owners and mortgage holders are required to approve an amendment. It also fixes a couple of other limitations that exist in some documents, including in Senator Weiler's district. Morris Sperry commends the Utah legislature and Senator Todd Weiler for their serious consideration of the issues facing community associations and their willingness to help solve those problems. Owners and board members in Condominiums, Townhomes, and Homeowners Associations in Senator Weiler's district are well served by his Utah legislative efforts and for his balanced and practical approach to HOA legal issues.

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February 19, 2015

Agencies enforcing the Fair Housing Act have sometimes taken the position that community associations (HOAs, condominiums, townhomes, homeowners associations) must reasign limited common area parking to accomodate requests from disabled (handicapped) persons for more accessable parking. This reasignment can turn into a nightmare because limited common area parking is often assigned in deeds, CC&Rs, and plats. Owners typically rely on the location and convience of an assigned parking spot when making purchasing decisions. It is extremly disruptive and unfair to later force the owner to permanently trade for some parking spot that is often far less convenient after they have purchased. It is similar to informing an owner that they must trade backyards with their neighbor, or someone accross and down the street. Moreover, Associations are making these tough decisions under constant threat of a fair housing complaint that can cost thousands of dollars to defend.

In Commonwealth of Virginia v. Windsor Plaza Condominium Association, Inc., a Virginia Supreme Court found no fair housing act violation when the Assocaition refused to force a trade of limited common area parking assigned to owners, essentially stating that the Association had no right to confiscate the parking of another and therefore the requested accomodation was unreasonable. This case will provide new authority that Associations will have to consider when similar requests for accomodation are recieved.

This case highlights the difficulty Associations face when confronted with Fair Housing Act requests for accomodation. The Association undoubtedly spent tens of thousands of dollars to be vindicated in its ultimately correct decision, with no right to recover any of those attorney fees. If the Court had ruled the other way, the Association would have to pay the complainant's attorney fees, penalties, damages, and its own attorney fees. Morris Sperry understand the Utah Fair Housing Act (UFHA) and the Federal Fair Housing Act (FFHA) and can help associations navigate the difficult procedures that apply when responding to such as request. Moreover, Morris Sperry stays up to date on these and other cases to provide the very best substantive analysis possible.      

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February 15, 2015

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has finally released the long-awaited proposed regulation (rules) governing the use of Drones.  The proposed regulation contains some very interesting and potentially limiting requirements like the requirement that the drone pilot retain "Visual line-of-site" at all times. One can imagine drone pilots clammoring for access to roof tops and other positions that would allow a greater range while complying with FAA requirements. In addition, the pilots would require vetting, training, and testing by the FAA. The FAA will also require reports of any crashes that cause property damage or personal injury, aircraft registration, and markings on the aircraft like current planes. The drones would be limited to 55 pounds in weight. Cameras are permitted without any limitation. The drones also cannot be flown over people who are not involved in the flying of the drone, although the FAA proposes an exception for "microUAS" drones with proper certifications and knowledge. For an overview of the proposed rule, click HERE. To see the Department of Transportation Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems notice that provides the proposed rule and links for making comments, click HERE

Once again, Morris Sperry projects that within five years Drones will be entering community associations delivering prescriptions and taking photographs for all sorts of commercial enterprises. Moreover, it certainly makes both economic and practical sense for both associations and managers to consider using drones for property inspections as a cost saving effort that might also allow for inspections of areas such as roofs and balconies that in some cases may have been previously impossible. Careful consideration and balancing of prvacy interests will be required when using drones for these types of inspections.

 

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February 15, 2015

Community Associations with units that share walls (condominiums and townhomes) frequently run into problems when an owner fails to pay utility bills and allows the heat to be shut off in the middle of the winter.  The pipes sometimes freeze and burst causing damage in that unit and others nearby.

House Bill (HB) 304 is an attempt to help solve that problem. In short, it would allow HOAs to give notice to the power and gas company and require them to: (1) give notice to the association if they intend to shut off power or gas to a unit, and (2) allow the association to pay the bill if it wants to keep the heat on.  It also clarifies the right of the association to enter any unit for the purpose of winterizing the unit if the association receives notice that the power or gas are going to be shutoff and the the association elects not to pay the bills. To read the bill, click HERE.

This bill is another effort by the Utah CAI Legislative Action Committee with the help of Represenative Dixon Pitcher. Morris Sperry remains heavily involved in this committee and with supporting both the Utah Legislative Action Committee and the Community Association Institute generally. 

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February 13, 2015

The Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show was swarming with new drones last week. There were drones small enough to hold in your hand and large enough to carry a twenty-pound payload. The new rage is drones that will follow ("Auto-Follow") a person either by recognizing the person or a logo on the person or by following a device or controller carried by a person. In the next five years community associations will be swarming with drones of all sizes doing all sorts of tasks, the most common of which is taking high definition video or photographs. One can only imagine the issues these drones will raise in society in general and in condominium and homeowner associations.

Consistent with their absolute drive to remain on the cutting edge of HOA law, Morris Sperry is now including provisions in governing documents to address the inevitable arrival of these versatile devices. When you get your governing documents (declaration, bylaws, rules, articles of incorporation, CC&Rs) rewritten by Morris Sperry, you get thousands of hours of work and fine tuning in our template, including ongoing additions and modifications to address new technologies and changes in the law. With a great template to start with, the lawyers at Morris Sperry customize that template to your association with a extensively tested process that produces great documents. That process also maximizes the chances that the association will get the owner approval needed to adopt the new governing documents. 

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January 10, 2015

On January 6, 2016 the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), filed a complaint (Eugene and Galina Ovsishcher v. Trump village Section IV Inc.) against a housing cooperative in New York seeking not less than $48,000 in penalties in addition to damages and attorney fees. The claim is based on failing to grant a reasonable accomodation under the Fair Housing Act. The complainants were a husband and wife and the husband, a combat military veteran of afghanistan and Kosovo, had received a recommendation from his psychiatrist to obtain an animal to assist with psychiatric disabilities related to his service. Not only did the cooperative and its leader refuse to allow the dog, they immediately began retaliating against the couple because of their request. The Association, or its insurance company, is likelely to spend tens of thousands of dollars in the defense of this claim and will also likely end up paying attorney fees, penalties, and damages. With a little competent legal advice early on, this matter would likely have been handled completely different and the association could have avoided this claim and the bad publicity it created. Morris Sperry always recommends seeking competent legal advice when an association receives a request for service or emotional support animals or other requests for accomodation related to any claimed or apparent disability.

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January 13, 2015

John Morris and Quinn Sperry were chosen by their peers as members of Utah Business Magazine's 2015 Utah Legal Elite. Legal Elite honorees are selected by their peers in a statewide balloting process. Members of the Utah Bar were invited to participate by submitting a ballot of Utah lawyers they hold in the highest regard--lawyers they have observed firsthand and would recommend to others.

 

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October 28, 2014

Morris Sperry lawyers Melyssa Davidson, Robert Rosing, and John Morris appeared on Park City TV Mountain Morning Show to talk about Morris Sperry's upcoming law seminar on condominium and hoa management contracts. To view the entire show, click HERE.

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July 9, 2014

In a recent decision, the Utah Supreme Court held, a condominium property manager owed no duty to a resident in the complex who tripped and fell on tree shoots in the lawn. In a lengthy decision addressing several legal theories, the Utah Supreme Court stated that the property manager was not a "possessor" or the land, did not owe an independent duty to the owner, and had generally complied with its contractual obligations. One lesson is clear from the decision. If a property manager takes any action to contribute to a dangerous or unsafe condition, the manager may be liable. Although the court was concerned that the property manager may have contributed to the danger caused by the tree shoots through repeated mowing instead of proper removal, the issue had not been properly addressed by the plaintiff and was therefore disregarded. The core lesson for associations and managers is to always strive to resolve unsafe conditions in HOAs. Nobody wants anyone to get injured enjoying the open space in an HOA, regardless of legal concerns.

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June 12, 2014

In a well attended event, Brandon Myers of Morris Sperry provided insight and explanation to the complicated issue of reserves. All condominiums, HOAs, townhomes, and PUDs must now take certain steps to obtain a reserve analysis and to deal with the question of how much to save in reserves. The lawyers at Morris Sperry are well versed in this statute and its requirements and can offer community association leaders the advice they need to comply with the requirements of the statute and avoid the serious penalties that can apply if they don't. The Utah CAI round table events offer a fantastic opportunity for community leaders to get good advice on important topics. Morris Sperry continues to support CAI and these events through hundreds of hours of volunteer attorney time.

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March 2, 2015

Condominiums, Townhomes, and Homeowner Associations should be aware that playing music or movies in the clubhouse or in any common area to a group of owners and/or their guests could be a copyright infringement. The test is whether the display is a "public performance." That legal and factual analysis depends on the makeup of the group of people in attendance. Private parties in HOA clubhouses have been held to be public performances for purposes of the music played at those events. Any association considering any organized event in a clubhouse or common area at which a movie or music will be offered by the Association, should contact Morris Sperry for a quick analysis or make sure whoever they source for that entertainment complies with copyright law. 

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February 26, 2015

Senate Bill 80 passed the Utah Senate yesterday and will now start its journey through the House of Representatives. SB 80, entitled "Homeowners' Association Reserve Fund" will require developers during the period of administrative control (the time developers control a new project) to provide a copy of the HOA governing documents and the most recent financials for the association in any sale of a unit or home in the community.

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February 26, 2015

Senate Bill 218 has passed out of committee in the Utah Senate and is now moving forward on the floor of the senate. This bill would make several changes to the Revised Nonprofit Corporation Act. Those HOAs that are incorporated, which 95% are, will be subject to the changes in all sorts of areas. Among other things, the new HOA law would: (1) clarify that notice and member participation by text, email, and other electronic means is acceptable in more circumstances, (2) eliminate the ability to use written ballots in a meeting if those ballots were solicited as part of an effort to take action without a meeting, (3) clarify that a proxy may be sent by text, email, or other means of electronic communication, (4) clarifying the right of board members to approve of board actions by text and email, (5) limit the authority of committees, (6) clarify that other types of notice may be permitted for meetings of the members and board, (7) clarifies the conflict of interest section application to relatives of board members, and (8) clarifies the contents of articles of restatement. 

If this bill passes, HOAs will need to update their procedures and practices applicable to daily decision making by board members and for member meetings and action. Morris Sperry will continue to monitor this bill and will be ready to provide any association with a complete overview of the changes if this new law passes.

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February 25, 2015

SB 118 was amended and substituted today to include an after-the-fact change to HB 99, the HOA open meetings bill that recently passed both houses of the Utah Legislature and is waiting for the governor's signature. If the governor signs it, HB 99 will require HOAs to have most board meetings and management committee meetings open to all owners and will require notice of most of those meetings to owners who request notice. Consistent with the desires of the Utah Senate, a provision was added to SB 118 that will modify the new HOA open meeting law to provide for a notice, right to cure, and cause of action for an owner against an HOA that refuses to comply with the open meeting laws. This cause of action will allow an owner to recover a $500 minimium damage amount, an order that the association comply, and attorney fees if an HOA ignores the new open meeting requirements after a warning from the owner. As one of the draftsman of both the original HB 99 open meeting bill and of the changes required by the Senate, John Morris and the Morris Sperry team of lawyers are ready to advise HOAs in Utah (condominiums, townhomes, homeowners associations) on what they need to do to comply with this new law and all HOA laws. As a frequent advocate of owner rights, the Morris Sperry attorneys also remain willing to assist owners with enforcing their rights under this law and any other.  

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February 25, 2015

HOA bill HB 304 passed out of the House Public Utilities and Technology Committee yesterday and is off to the floor of the Senate. As explained in an earlier news article on this site, this law would allow community associations to get advance notice when utilities will be turned off so that Associations can try to avoid freezing pipes and all the damage they cause in community associations. Representative Dixon Pitcher (Representative Pitcher's Website) of the Utah House of Representatives is sponsoring this bill. Representative Pitcher has been a great supporter of fair and balanced HOA laws and his constuents in District 10 should be pleased by his efforts. 

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February 24, 2015

John Morris of Morris Sperry testified in favor of Senate Bill 118 (SB 118) today in the House Business and Labor Committee with Senator Todd Weiler. (Senator Weiler's Website)  Senator Weiler graciously allowed his original senate bill to be expanded to provide more help for Community Associations trying to amend governing documents (declaration, bylaws, articles of incorporation). SB 118 will limit the restrictions on amending governing documents so that no more than 67% of the owners and mortgage holders are required to approve an amendment. It also fixes a couple of other limitations that exist in some documents, including in Senator Weiler's district. Morris Sperry commends the Utah legislature and Senator Todd Weiler for their serious consideration of the issues facing community associations and their willingness to help solve those problems. Owners and board members in Condominiums, Townhomes, and Homeowners Associations in Senator Weiler's district are well served by his Utah legislative efforts and for his balanced and practical approach to HOA legal issues.

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