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News/Blog

News/Blog

April 26, 2015

A recently released 2015 report of the Western United States identified 3,509 Utah properties worth 782 million dollars in high to very high wildfire areas. In addition to the impact this may have on insurance rates, community associations with homes in those areas should be thinking about an emergency plan for fires. They should also be taking proactive action to prevent both the spread of fires and to minimize the risks of damage. The report provides that wildfires are unique natural hazzard because they can be caused by humans (as opposed to earthquakes, storms, and other natural hazzards) and because it is possible to minimize the damage either through fire fighting or through earlier efforts of property owners.

If an association is in a wildfire risk area, Morris Sperry can assist in identifying the scope of authority and responsibility of an association board of directors in the governing documents. With a clear understanding of both the association's authority and responsibility to minimize these risks, the association can take action consistent with the governing documents or make necessary revisions to the documents to align them with the desires of the association. 

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April 8, 2015

Governor Herbert signed the ceremonial copy of H.B. 98 today at the Capitol. John Morris of Morris Sperry, members of the apartment association, and the sponsor Representative Gage Froerer attended. John Morris appeared representing the Utah CAI Legislative Action Committee, members of whom worked on this bill. This new HOA law in Utah further defines the relationship between landlords in condominium associations and community associations. It also adds needed clarity to the law applicable to HOA fines and warning letters. John Morris and the other members of the Utah CAI LAC worked hard on this bill and it represents a good compromise between all of the interests involved.

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April 3, 2015

The governor signed the remaining new HOA law, S.B. 118, on the last day allowed. Signficant changes to the procedure for requesting association documents now takes effect along with help for association amendments and the fine and attorney fee provision for associations who fail to comply with the new open meeting laws. All of the new 2015 condominium laws and PUD laws will now take effect. Watch for future articles on the Morris Sperry website analyzing the new legislation and providing specific implementation dates.

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April 2, 2015

John Morris presented on HOA laws and practical issues to a group of real estate agents at City Creek Center. The topics included reserves, new 2015 Utah HOA laws, and practical considerations when selling and buying homes in condominiums and PUDs. There were many questions and the discussion involved some of the unique aspects of the condominiums in City Creek. The real estate agents in attendance all received continuing education credit. Morris Sperry remains committed to providing education to the community on important HOA issues.

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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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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 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 1, 2013

Morris Sperry confirmed its 2014 diamond sponsorship of the local CAI Chapter. The local Utah CAI chapter is a tremendous resource for owners and board members. Morris Sperry remains dedicated to the educational mission of the Community Association Institute and is pleased to both sponsor and participate in the chapter.

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November 13, 2013

John Morris of Morris Sperry and LaMond Woods of Sentry West hosted another fantastic HOA insurance forum that included insurance professionals from around the country. The topics of D&O insurance and Crime Insurance were covered in the first session and key aspects of property insurance were covered in the afternoon session. The Law and Ordinance endorsement so often misunderstood by community associations was fully explained. A local adjuster walked through the complicated analysis of claims and the deductible allocation in Utah law. The many managers in attendance received some of the best HOA insurance law training available in the state. Keep on the lookout for an invitation for next year.

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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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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

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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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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February 11, 2015

John Morris appeared and testified again before the Senate Business and Labor committee regarding House Bill 98 (HB 98) (HB0098S01), substituted Senate Bill 118 (SB 118) (SB0118S01), and substituted Senate Bill 80 (SB 80) (SB0080S01). All three bills passed out of committee today and are headed to the floor of the Senate. HB 98 is the compilation bill that will clarify and update the requirements for HOA fines in Utah. It will also have a big impact on an association's rights related to rental units in the association and the association's right to impose rental restrictions through amendments to the governing documents. Charges that an Association might impose on rental units just because they are rental units will be a thing of the past as will other blatently descriminatory practices against rental units in associations. SB 118 addresses restrictive provisions in governing documents that make it overly difficult to amend those documents. It will void requirements that 100% of the owners approve amendments in older condominiums, 100% requirements for mortgagee approvals for amendments, and any requirement that a particular owner approve an amendment. If it passes, SB 80 will require certain disclosures at the time of sale of a unit or home in a community association if the association is in the developer control period. This will help provide more information to purchasers about hoa reserve accounts as well as other association financial information.  

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February 8, 2015

John Morris testified before the Senate Business and Labor committee last week regarding new HOA laws in Utah. HB 99 will require condominium, townhome, HOA, PUD, and homeowner associtaions to all open their board of directors', management committee', or board of trustees' meetings to owners. John Morris answered questions about the law and addressed concerns of Senators that the law does not go far enough in protecting the rights of owners to attend board member meetings. John explained that the law is a first step and that the industry does not want to create to much of a burden on managers or associations, while nonetheless preserving the right of an owenr to attend board meetings. John continues his work on good laws in Utah on the Community Association Insitute (CAI) Utah Legislative Action committee. House Bill 99 is sponsored by representative Mike Shultz in District 12. HB 99 originated in the local Utah Chapter and was the product of almost three years of discussion among managers, owners in HOAs, board members, HOA attorneys, and other industry vendors and participants.   

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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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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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