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News/Blog

News/Blog

February 22, 2019

John Morris, Quinn Sperry, and Lauren DeVoe presented an HOA legislative and case law update to lawyers in the Utah State Bar on February 21, 2019. The Morris Sperry HOA attorneys explained and discussed new statutes affecting homeowners' associations including new laws and cases related to construction defects and requests for emotional support animals. The presentation was packed by Utah lawyers looking for an HOA update. When lawyers need an education on HOA issues, they go to the lawyers at Morris Sperry because they are focused exclusively on HOA law.  

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February 15, 2019

 

The Utah CAI Legislative Action Committee is running HB 329, that will have new HOA laws. The bill will make changes (some minor and some more important) to various sections of the Condominium Ownership Act and the Community Association Act. After negotiations with various constituents, the bill is in the process of being shortened from its current form but will still include some changes that Utah community associations and homeowners’ associations will need to know about. There will be some technical changes to Utah Code Ann. § 57-8-13.1 and § 57-8a-105 related to lien enforcement during periods when a homeowners’ association has failed to register with the Department of Commerce. The basic obligation of all Utah HOAs to register with the department of commerce remains. Utah Code Ann. § 57-8-54 will undergo substantial changes related to owners requesting payoff information from their HOA or the HOA's manager. The lawyers at Morris Sperry suspect this provision will have further modifications from its existing form before passage. The rules provisions in the community association act, Utah Code Ann. § 57-8a-217, will also undergo some significant changes. These changes include new definitional terms that could have significant effects on the validity of various HOA governing documents. In addition, these changes include limitations on the time period for challenging the adoption of a rule that does not comply with the notice and vetting periods allowed to owners before new rules are adopted in community associations. The lawyers at Morris Sperry are involved with these amendments through their service on the Utah CAI Legislative Action Committee and are closely watching the progress of these new 2019 Utah HOA laws. The time for this bill to get passed is slipping away, but there still remains a chance these provisions could go into law. Look for future updates from Morris Sperry on the status of this bill and the passage of other new laws in 2019 that affect HOAs.

 

 

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February 1, 2019

 

In the 2019 legislative session, the Utah legislature is considering House Bill 43 (HB 43) that would make certain actions involving emotional support animals (also known as support animals, companion animals, or comfort animals) a class C misdemeanor. HB 43 has passed the house and is under consideration in the senate. By all indications, this bill is set to sail through the legislature and to be signed by the governor. HB 43 is sponsored by Representative Dunnigan and Senator Bramble, both of whom sponsored the bills that formed the original laws that this is bill is modifying and expanding.

The existing statute, Utah Code Ann.  § 62A-5b-106, already made it a crime to interfere with the exercise of a disabled person's right to a service animal. The existing statute also made it a crime for someone to "intentionally and knowingly" represent to another that an animal is a service animal when the animal is not. It also made it a crime to misrepresent facts to a health care provider for the purpose of obtaining a service animal. H.B. 43 would modify the existing law to, for the first time, included emotional support animals along with service animals. The distinction is important because service animals are a carefully prescribed and easily identified category of animals that are typically trained and certified to provide very specific services to a disabled owner. Emotional support animals, on the other hand, have no specialized training or certifications because that is not necessary for their function. Although the benefit of emotional support animals can vary among their disabled owners, the typical benefit is a therapeutic and helpful calming of the symptoms of certain mental conditions, such as extreme anxiety and PTSD. In short, the presence and companionship of the animal provides the benefit.

In the world of condominiums, PUDs, Townhomes, HOAs, homeowners’ associations, and other community associations, this is a critically important issue. The federal Fair Housing Act and the Utah state Fair Housing Act both provide that owners and community associations must make reasonable accommodations for both service animals and emotional support animals. This means if an HOA has rules or covenants that prohibit animals or proscribe limitations on animals (such as their size or where they may go in the project), the owner or homeowners’ association may have to make exceptions to those rules under circumstances where a disabled individual needs the animal to assist with one or more of the disabled person's major life activities. A common example of this type of situation is a veteran who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome and has a dog who helps minimize the symptoms of that condition. That veteran may have the right to move into a condominium project that does not allow animals, and nonetheless keep her dog.

The big question for HOAs is how H.B. 43 will impact requests for accommodation and the responses of HOAs to those requests. If a condominium board of directors believes a request to keep an emotional support animal is not genuine, could they and should they file a criminal complaint? What is "enough" information to support the filing of a criminal complaint? Is the filing retaliation that is prohibited under federal law? Also, what about people who complain about an emotional support animal in a project or harass the owner who has one? Have they now violated a criminal law? What about Boards who deny a request for accommodation, are they now potentially liable criminally? Do the criminal provisions apply at all to an HOA board of trustees or an HOA board of directors? 

As other states have passed similar laws, the lawyers at Morris Sperry have been carefully watching this issue. They are prepared to assist their clients (owners requesting accommodations and HOAs responding to requests) with answers to the hard questions above. No firm in Utah has more experience with Fair Housing laws in homeowners’ associations. The lawyers at Morris Sperry will continue to monitor HB 43 in the 2019 Utah legislature and will be prepared to assist their clients with the nuances of this law and other Fair Housing laws.

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January 26, 2019

 

John Morris and Quinn Sperry, Utah homeowners association lawyers, were selected to be two of the presenters for the CCAL national HOA law seminar in New Orleans. This seminar was attended by more than 400 HOA lawyers from around the country. They presented on how to deal with divisiveness and conflict in HOAs. This very interesting issue is at the forefront of the national political debate and is a commonly encountered problem in community associations around the country and in Utah. The topic included information and practical advice for dealing with board member verses board member disputes, board member verses owner disputes, HOA verses board member disputes, and other common types of disputes in HOAs. The presentation included a careful review of the ethical rules lawyers must deal with representing parties in these disputes, along with practical advice for minimizing, deescalating, and resolving these disputes. Morris Sperry lawyers and the Morris Sperry HOA law firm are committed to resolving disputes in condominium associations, PUDs, townhomes, and other community associations as quickly, efficiently, and amicably as possible. This is why both Quinn and John have completed mediation training and frequently suggest alternatives for resolving disputes other than litigation. Attorneys who focus in HOA law, like the attorneys at Morris Sperry, understand the importance of understanding, managing, and harnessing the benefits of different opinions in homeowners associations.  

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January 25, 2019

 

Five Morris Sperry lawyers are attending the National HOA law conference in New Orleans this week. This conference is one of the best opportunities to meet and learn from HOA lawyers from around the country. Morris Sperry lawyers get exposure to legal trends and new approaches to HOA problems. This ongoing dedication and focus on community association law is why Morris Sperry is the only law firm you want working for you when you have townhome, condominium, PUD, and other HOA legal issues. 

 

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January 14, 2019

 

John Morris and Quinn Sperry are preparing to present at the National HOA Law Seminar in New Orleans. Over 500 of the best HOA lawyers in the country get together once a year to discuss advanced community association law issues. A careful selection and vetting process occurs to select speakers for this advanced seminar. John Morris and Quinn Sperry have been selected multiple times. This year's presentation will focus on the lawyer's role in divisiveness and disputes among HOA participants, including the owners, board members, and managers. A particular focus will be on the ethical challenges lawyers face in these situations. This topic was undoubtedly selected because it is so timely given the extreme polarization of country on any number of political issues and the unfortunate impact that polarization can have on the leadership and operations of community organizations. With its exclusive focus on HOA law, Morris Sperry remains the only firm in Utah to call for help when you have disputes among and between board members and between board members and owners in an HOA. 

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October 8, 2018

 

Quinn Sperry was elected Second Vice Chair by the Community Association Section of the Utah State Bar. In the same meeting, Lauren DeVoe of Morris Sperry was elected by the section as Treasurer. Morris Sperry continues their service to the community, to their fellow HOA lawyers, and to the HOA and community association law industry as a whole through this service. Since John Morris of Morris Sperry came up with the idea for this section, lawyers from Morris Sperry have advocated for the section and have volunteered to serve.

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September 6, 2018

 

John Morris presented for the local Community Association Institute (CAI) chapter on the nuanced legal issues surrounding emotional support animals, sometimes referred to as "companion animals," "comfort animals," "ESA's," or even improperly as "service animals." This issue is exploding in Utah community associations, including condominium associations and PUDs. Not only is the issue arising more often, it is complicated and a potential trap for unadvised condominium associations and other community associations. The Fair Housing Act, both in Utah and federally, has very specific legal requirements that must be complied with when a request for accommodation has been made. Even the determination of whether a request for accommodation has been made or not can be difficult. The lawyers at Morris Sperry deal with the Fair Housing Act on a daily basis, both prosecuting and defending complaints with the Utah Antidiscrimination and Labor Division and with HUD (the Department of Housing and Urban Development). No other law firm in Utah has as much experience with community associations, emotional support animals, and the Fair Housing Act.

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May 18, 2018

 

Quinn Sperry presented on disaster preparedness at the local CAI education event in Midvale, Utah. With Quinn's unique experience as a member of the Midvale City Counsel, he spoke on the intersection between local government and HOAs and the cutting-edge efforts by his city to ensure that HOAs can take advantage of federal funds after a natural disaster. Without proactive efforts like this, condominiums and PUDs suffering from earthquake, storm, or other natural disaster damage may be unable to obtain federal funds for cleanup. Morris Sperry lawyers are always looking for an angle to help their community association clients and all HOAs in Utah. That is why the Morris Sperry law firm is the best HOA law firm in Utah.

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May 16, 2018

On April 18, 2018, the Federal Communications Commission issued a Declaratory Ruling that reiterates the limitations on controls private and public entities can impose on the installation of satellite dishes and antennas. The FCC struck down a Philadelphia ordinance that attempted to impose limitations on the installation of satellite dishes on the front of homes and buildings. In its ruling, the FCC reiterated many well established principles from its Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule, 47 C.F.R. § 1.4000, the (“OTARD Rule"). These principles apply directly in condominiums, townhomes, PUDs, and other community associations. In short, the OTARD Rule applies to direct broadcast satellite antennas that are one meter or less in diameter or diagonal measurement (except in Alaska) and are designed to receive or transmit video programming services through multipoint distribution services. The OTARD Rule also applies to antennas used to receive fixed wireless or broadband Internet signals. For the OTARD Rule to apply, the antenna must be installed “on property within the exclusive use or control of the antenna user where the user has a direct or indirect ownership or leasehold interest in the property” upon which the antenna is located. The OTARD Rule does not apply to restrictions on installations in common areas or elements. It provides that a restriction impairs installation, maintenance, or use of a protected antenna if it: (1) unreasonably delays or prevents installation, maintenance, or use; (2) unreasonably increases the cost of installation, maintenance, or use; or (3) precludes reception of an acceptable quality signal. There are exceptions to the rule for restrictions necessary to address clearly defined, legitimate safety or historic preservation issues, provided such restrictions are as narrowly tailored as possible, impose as little burden as necessary to achieve the foregoing objectives, and apply in a nondiscriminatory manner throughout the regulated area.

If you are unsure whether the OTARD Rule is implicated in a rule governing satellite dish installations in a Utah condominium association, townhome, PUD, or other community association, contact the HOA attorneys at Morris Sperry for advice. The Morris Sperry HOA law firm stays current on the law and has the best HOA lawyers in Utah to help you with these issues.

 

 

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February 22, 2019

John Morris, Quinn Sperry, and Lauren DeVoe presented an HOA legislative and case law update to lawyers in the Utah State Bar on February 21, 2019. The Morris Sperry HOA attorneys explained and discussed new statutes affecting homeowners' associations including new laws and cases related to construction defects and requests for emotional support animals. The presentation was packed by Utah lawyers looking for an HOA update. When lawyers need an education on HOA issues, they go to the lawyers at Morris Sperry because they are focused exclusively on HOA law.  

Comments 0   Add new comment
February 15, 2019

 

The Utah CAI Legislative Action Committee is running HB 329, that will have new HOA laws. The bill will make changes (some minor and some more important) to various sections of the Condominium Ownership Act and the Community Association Act. After negotiations with various constituents, the bill is in the process of being shortened from its current form but will still include some changes that Utah community associations and homeowners’ associations will need to know about. There will be some technical changes to Utah Code Ann. § 57-8-13.1 and § 57-8a-105 related to lien enforcement during periods when a homeowners’ association has failed to register with the Department of Commerce. The basic obligation of all Utah HOAs to register with the department of commerce remains. Utah Code Ann. § 57-8-54 will undergo substantial changes related to owners requesting payoff information from their HOA or the HOA's manager. The lawyers at Morris Sperry suspect this provision will have further modifications from its existing form before passage. The rules provisions in the community association act, Utah Code Ann. § 57-8a-217, will also undergo some significant changes. These changes include new definitional terms that could have significant effects on the validity of various HOA governing documents. In addition, these changes include limitations on the time period for challenging the adoption of a rule that does not comply with the notice and vetting periods allowed to owners before new rules are adopted in community associations. The lawyers at Morris Sperry are involved with these amendments through their service on the Utah CAI Legislative Action Committee and are closely watching the progress of these new 2019 Utah HOA laws. The time for this bill to get passed is slipping away, but there still remains a chance these provisions could go into law. Look for future updates from Morris Sperry on the status of this bill and the passage of other new laws in 2019 that affect HOAs.

 

 

Comments 0   Add new comment
January 26, 2019

 

John Morris and Quinn Sperry, Utah homeowners association lawyers, were selected to be two of the presenters for the CCAL national HOA law seminar in New Orleans. This seminar was attended by more than 400 HOA lawyers from around the country. They presented on how to deal with divisiveness and conflict in HOAs. This very interesting issue is at the forefront of the national political debate and is a commonly encountered problem in community associations around the country and in Utah. The topic included information and practical advice for dealing with board member verses board member disputes, board member verses owner disputes, HOA verses board member disputes, and other common types of disputes in HOAs. The presentation included a careful review of the ethical rules lawyers must deal with representing parties in these disputes, along with practical advice for minimizing, deescalating, and resolving these disputes. Morris Sperry lawyers and the Morris Sperry HOA law firm are committed to resolving disputes in condominium associations, PUDs, townhomes, and other community associations as quickly, efficiently, and amicably as possible. This is why both Quinn and John have completed mediation training and frequently suggest alternatives for resolving disputes other than litigation. Attorneys who focus in HOA law, like the attorneys at Morris Sperry, understand the importance of understanding, managing, and harnessing the benefits of different opinions in homeowners associations.  

Comments 0   Add new comment
January 25, 2019

 

Five Morris Sperry lawyers are attending the National HOA law conference in New Orleans this week. This conference is one of the best opportunities to meet and learn from HOA lawyers from around the country. Morris Sperry lawyers get exposure to legal trends and new approaches to HOA problems. This ongoing dedication and focus on community association law is why Morris Sperry is the only law firm you want working for you when you have townhome, condominium, PUD, and other HOA legal issues. 

 

Comments 0   Add new comment
January 14, 2019

 

John Morris and Quinn Sperry are preparing to present at the National HOA Law Seminar in New Orleans. Over 500 of the best HOA lawyers in the country get together once a year to discuss advanced community association law issues. A careful selection and vetting process occurs to select speakers for this advanced seminar. John Morris and Quinn Sperry have been selected multiple times. This year's presentation will focus on the lawyer's role in divisiveness and disputes among HOA participants, including the owners, board members, and managers. A particular focus will be on the ethical challenges lawyers face in these situations. This topic was undoubtedly selected because it is so timely given the extreme polarization of country on any number of political issues and the unfortunate impact that polarization can have on the leadership and operations of community organizations. With its exclusive focus on HOA law, Morris Sperry remains the only firm in Utah to call for help when you have disputes among and between board members and between board members and owners in an HOA. 

Comments 0   Add new comment
October 8, 2018

 

Quinn Sperry was elected Second Vice Chair by the Community Association Section of the Utah State Bar. In the same meeting, Lauren DeVoe of Morris Sperry was elected by the section as Treasurer. Morris Sperry continues their service to the community, to their fellow HOA lawyers, and to the HOA and community association law industry as a whole through this service. Since John Morris of Morris Sperry came up with the idea for this section, lawyers from Morris Sperry have advocated for the section and have volunteered to serve.

Comments 0   Add new comment
September 6, 2018

 

John Morris presented for the local Community Association Institute (CAI) chapter on the nuanced legal issues surrounding emotional support animals, sometimes referred to as "companion animals," "comfort animals," "ESA's," or even improperly as "service animals." This issue is exploding in Utah community associations, including condominium associations and PUDs. Not only is the issue arising more often, it is complicated and a potential trap for unadvised condominium associations and other community associations. The Fair Housing Act, both in Utah and federally, has very specific legal requirements that must be complied with when a request for accommodation has been made. Even the determination of whether a request for accommodation has been made or not can be difficult. The lawyers at Morris Sperry deal with the Fair Housing Act on a daily basis, both prosecuting and defending complaints with the Utah Antidiscrimination and Labor Division and with HUD (the Department of Housing and Urban Development). No other law firm in Utah has as much experience with community associations, emotional support animals, and the Fair Housing Act.

Comments 0   Add new comment
May 18, 2018

 

Quinn Sperry presented on disaster preparedness at the local CAI education event in Midvale, Utah. With Quinn's unique experience as a member of the Midvale City Counsel, he spoke on the intersection between local government and HOAs and the cutting-edge efforts by his city to ensure that HOAs can take advantage of federal funds after a natural disaster. Without proactive efforts like this, condominiums and PUDs suffering from earthquake, storm, or other natural disaster damage may be unable to obtain federal funds for cleanup. Morris Sperry lawyers are always looking for an angle to help their community association clients and all HOAs in Utah. That is why the Morris Sperry law firm is the best HOA law firm in Utah.

Comments 0   Add new comment
April 20, 2018

The 2018 Legal Elite is a listing of the top attorneys in Utah as voted by their peers. The Legal Elite highlights top attorneys in 27 categories. Active members of the Utah State Bar were invited to cast votes for peers whom they consider the state’s best attorneys. To quality to be on the list, attorneys must have at least five years of practice. Utah Business received thousands of votes. The top vote-getters were further vetted by a panel of senior attorneys from several firms covering multiple practice areas, representing a wealth of knowledge regarding Utah’s legal community. The final selection were the Utah Legal Elite attorneys.  John Morris and Quinn Sperry have both been selected for multiple years to this prestigious list. 

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January 25, 2018

 

Three Morris Sperry lawyers attended the national community association law seminar to continue to hone their skills and remain the most qualified HOA lawyers in Utah. The Conference covered cutting edge aspects of community association law along with in-depth seminars on new approaches to old issues. Morris Sperry attorneys take the time to attend this seminar in a continuing effort to remain the leading lawyers in the Utah HOA legal community.  

 

 

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February 22, 2019

John Morris, Quinn Sperry, and Lauren DeVoe presented an HOA legislative and case law update to lawyers in the Utah State Bar on February 21, 2019. The Morris Sperry HOA attorneys explained and discussed new statutes affecting homeowners' associations including new laws and cases related to construction defects and requests for emotional support animals. The presentation was packed by Utah lawyers looking for an HOA update. When lawyers need an education on HOA issues, they go to the lawyers at Morris Sperry because they are focused exclusively on HOA law.  

Comments 0   Add new comment
February 15, 2019

 

The Utah CAI Legislative Action Committee is running HB 329, that will have new HOA laws. The bill will make changes (some minor and some more important) to various sections of the Condominium Ownership Act and the Community Association Act. After negotiations with various constituents, the bill is in the process of being shortened from its current form but will still include some changes that Utah community associations and homeowners’ associations will need to know about. There will be some technical changes to Utah Code Ann. § 57-8-13.1 and § 57-8a-105 related to lien enforcement during periods when a homeowners’ association has failed to register with the Department of Commerce. The basic obligation of all Utah HOAs to register with the department of commerce remains. Utah Code Ann. § 57-8-54 will undergo substantial changes related to owners requesting payoff information from their HOA or the HOA's manager. The lawyers at Morris Sperry suspect this provision will have further modifications from its existing form before passage. The rules provisions in the community association act, Utah Code Ann. § 57-8a-217, will also undergo some significant changes. These changes include new definitional terms that could have significant effects on the validity of various HOA governing documents. In addition, these changes include limitations on the time period for challenging the adoption of a rule that does not comply with the notice and vetting periods allowed to owners before new rules are adopted in community associations. The lawyers at Morris Sperry are involved with these amendments through their service on the Utah CAI Legislative Action Committee and are closely watching the progress of these new 2019 Utah HOA laws. The time for this bill to get passed is slipping away, but there still remains a chance these provisions could go into law. Look for future updates from Morris Sperry on the status of this bill and the passage of other new laws in 2019 that affect HOAs.

 

 

Comments 0   Add new comment
February 1, 2019

 

In the 2019 legislative session, the Utah legislature is considering House Bill 43 (HB 43) that would make certain actions involving emotional support animals (also known as support animals, companion animals, or comfort animals) a class C misdemeanor. HB 43 has passed the house and is under consideration in the senate. By all indications, this bill is set to sail through the legislature and to be signed by the governor. HB 43 is sponsored by Representative Dunnigan and Senator Bramble, both of whom sponsored the bills that formed the original laws that this is bill is modifying and expanding.

The existing statute, Utah Code Ann.  § 62A-5b-106, already made it a crime to interfere with the exercise of a disabled person's right to a service animal. The existing statute also made it a crime for someone to "intentionally and knowingly" represent to another that an animal is a service animal when the animal is not. It also made it a crime to misrepresent facts to a health care provider for the purpose of obtaining a service animal. H.B. 43 would modify the existing law to, for the first time, included emotional support animals along with service animals. The distinction is important because service animals are a carefully prescribed and easily identified category of animals that are typically trained and certified to provide very specific services to a disabled owner. Emotional support animals, on the other hand, have no specialized training or certifications because that is not necessary for their function. Although the benefit of emotional support animals can vary among their disabled owners, the typical benefit is a therapeutic and helpful calming of the symptoms of certain mental conditions, such as extreme anxiety and PTSD. In short, the presence and companionship of the animal provides the benefit.

In the world of condominiums, PUDs, Townhomes, HOAs, homeowners’ associations, and other community associations, this is a critically important issue. The federal Fair Housing Act and the Utah state Fair Housing Act both provide that owners and community associations must make reasonable accommodations for both service animals and emotional support animals. This means if an HOA has rules or covenants that prohibit animals or proscribe limitations on animals (such as their size or where they may go in the project), the owner or homeowners’ association may have to make exceptions to those rules under circumstances where a disabled individual needs the animal to assist with one or more of the disabled person's major life activities. A common example of this type of situation is a veteran who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome and has a dog who helps minimize the symptoms of that condition. That veteran may have the right to move into a condominium project that does not allow animals, and nonetheless keep her dog.

The big question for HOAs is how H.B. 43 will impact requests for accommodation and the responses of HOAs to those requests. If a condominium board of directors believes a request to keep an emotional support animal is not genuine, could they and should they file a criminal complaint? What is "enough" information to support the filing of a criminal complaint? Is the filing retaliation that is prohibited under federal law? Also, what about people who complain about an emotional support animal in a project or harass the owner who has one? Have they now violated a criminal law? What about Boards who deny a request for accommodation, are they now potentially liable criminally? Do the criminal provisions apply at all to an HOA board of trustees or an HOA board of directors? 

As other states have passed similar laws, the lawyers at Morris Sperry have been carefully watching this issue. They are prepared to assist their clients (owners requesting accommodations and HOAs responding to requests) with answers to the hard questions above. No firm in Utah has more experience with Fair Housing laws in homeowners’ associations. The lawyers at Morris Sperry will continue to monitor HB 43 in the 2019 Utah legislature and will be prepared to assist their clients with the nuances of this law and other Fair Housing laws.

Comments 0   Add new comment
January 25, 2019

 

Five Morris Sperry lawyers are attending the National HOA law conference in New Orleans this week. This conference is one of the best opportunities to meet and learn from HOA lawyers from around the country. Morris Sperry lawyers get exposure to legal trends and new approaches to HOA problems. This ongoing dedication and focus on community association law is why Morris Sperry is the only law firm you want working for you when you have townhome, condominium, PUD, and other HOA legal issues. 

 

Comments 0   Add new comment
January 14, 2019

 

John Morris and Quinn Sperry are preparing to present at the National HOA Law Seminar in New Orleans. Over 500 of the best HOA lawyers in the country get together once a year to discuss advanced community association law issues. A careful selection and vetting process occurs to select speakers for this advanced seminar. John Morris and Quinn Sperry have been selected multiple times. This year's presentation will focus on the lawyer's role in divisiveness and disputes among HOA participants, including the owners, board members, and managers. A particular focus will be on the ethical challenges lawyers face in these situations. This topic was undoubtedly selected because it is so timely given the extreme polarization of country on any number of political issues and the unfortunate impact that polarization can have on the leadership and operations of community organizations. With its exclusive focus on HOA law, Morris Sperry remains the only firm in Utah to call for help when you have disputes among and between board members and between board members and owners in an HOA. 

Comments 0   Add new comment
October 8, 2018

 

Quinn Sperry was elected Second Vice Chair by the Community Association Section of the Utah State Bar. In the same meeting, Lauren DeVoe of Morris Sperry was elected by the section as Treasurer. Morris Sperry continues their service to the community, to their fellow HOA lawyers, and to the HOA and community association law industry as a whole through this service. Since John Morris of Morris Sperry came up with the idea for this section, lawyers from Morris Sperry have advocated for the section and have volunteered to serve.

Comments 0   Add new comment
September 6, 2018

 

John Morris presented for the local Community Association Institute (CAI) chapter on the nuanced legal issues surrounding emotional support animals, sometimes referred to as "companion animals," "comfort animals," "ESA's," or even improperly as "service animals." This issue is exploding in Utah community associations, including condominium associations and PUDs. Not only is the issue arising more often, it is complicated and a potential trap for unadvised condominium associations and other community associations. The Fair Housing Act, both in Utah and federally, has very specific legal requirements that must be complied with when a request for accommodation has been made. Even the determination of whether a request for accommodation has been made or not can be difficult. The lawyers at Morris Sperry deal with the Fair Housing Act on a daily basis, both prosecuting and defending complaints with the Utah Antidiscrimination and Labor Division and with HUD (the Department of Housing and Urban Development). No other law firm in Utah has as much experience with community associations, emotional support animals, and the Fair Housing Act.

Comments 0   Add new comment
May 18, 2018

 

Quinn Sperry presented on disaster preparedness at the local CAI education event in Midvale, Utah. With Quinn's unique experience as a member of the Midvale City Counsel, he spoke on the intersection between local government and HOAs and the cutting-edge efforts by his city to ensure that HOAs can take advantage of federal funds after a natural disaster. Without proactive efforts like this, condominiums and PUDs suffering from earthquake, storm, or other natural disaster damage may be unable to obtain federal funds for cleanup. Morris Sperry lawyers are always looking for an angle to help their community association clients and all HOAs in Utah. That is why the Morris Sperry law firm is the best HOA law firm in Utah.

Comments 0   Add new comment
May 16, 2018

On April 18, 2018, the Federal Communications Commission issued a Declaratory Ruling that reiterates the limitations on controls private and public entities can impose on the installation of satellite dishes and antennas. The FCC struck down a Philadelphia ordinance that attempted to impose limitations on the installation of satellite dishes on the front of homes and buildings. In its ruling, the FCC reiterated many well established principles from its Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule, 47 C.F.R. § 1.4000, the (“OTARD Rule"). These principles apply directly in condominiums, townhomes, PUDs, and other community associations. In short, the OTARD Rule applies to direct broadcast satellite antennas that are one meter or less in diameter or diagonal measurement (except in Alaska) and are designed to receive or transmit video programming services through multipoint distribution services. The OTARD Rule also applies to antennas used to receive fixed wireless or broadband Internet signals. For the OTARD Rule to apply, the antenna must be installed “on property within the exclusive use or control of the antenna user where the user has a direct or indirect ownership or leasehold interest in the property” upon which the antenna is located. The OTARD Rule does not apply to restrictions on installations in common areas or elements. It provides that a restriction impairs installation, maintenance, or use of a protected antenna if it: (1) unreasonably delays or prevents installation, maintenance, or use; (2) unreasonably increases the cost of installation, maintenance, or use; or (3) precludes reception of an acceptable quality signal. There are exceptions to the rule for restrictions necessary to address clearly defined, legitimate safety or historic preservation issues, provided such restrictions are as narrowly tailored as possible, impose as little burden as necessary to achieve the foregoing objectives, and apply in a nondiscriminatory manner throughout the regulated area.

If you are unsure whether the OTARD Rule is implicated in a rule governing satellite dish installations in a Utah condominium association, townhome, PUD, or other community association, contact the HOA attorneys at Morris Sperry for advice. The Morris Sperry HOA law firm stays current on the law and has the best HOA lawyers in Utah to help you with these issues.

 

 

Comments 0   Add new comment
April 20, 2018

The 2018 Legal Elite is a listing of the top attorneys in Utah as voted by their peers. The Legal Elite highlights top attorneys in 27 categories. Active members of the Utah State Bar were invited to cast votes for peers whom they consider the state’s best attorneys. To quality to be on the list, attorneys must have at least five years of practice. Utah Business received thousands of votes. The top vote-getters were further vetted by a panel of senior attorneys from several firms covering multiple practice areas, representing a wealth of knowledge regarding Utah’s legal community. The final selection were the Utah Legal Elite attorneys.  John Morris and Quinn Sperry have both been selected for multiple years to this prestigious list. 

Comments 0   Add new comment

Pages

February 22, 2019

John Morris, Quinn Sperry, and Lauren DeVoe presented an HOA legislative and case law update to lawyers in the Utah State Bar on February 21, 2019. The Morris Sperry HOA attorneys explained and discussed new statutes affecting homeowners' associations including new laws and cases related to construction defects and requests for emotional support animals. The presentation was packed by Utah lawyers looking for an HOA update. When lawyers need an education on HOA issues, they go to the lawyers at Morris Sperry because they are focused exclusively on HOA law.  

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February 15, 2019

 

The Utah CAI Legislative Action Committee is running HB 329, that will have new HOA laws. The bill will make changes (some minor and some more important) to various sections of the Condominium Ownership Act and the Community Association Act. After negotiations with various constituents, the bill is in the process of being shortened from its current form but will still include some changes that Utah community associations and homeowners’ associations will need to know about. There will be some technical changes to Utah Code Ann. § 57-8-13.1 and § 57-8a-105 related to lien enforcement during periods when a homeowners’ association has failed to register with the Department of Commerce. The basic obligation of all Utah HOAs to register with the department of commerce remains. Utah Code Ann. § 57-8-54 will undergo substantial changes related to owners requesting payoff information from their HOA or the HOA's manager. The lawyers at Morris Sperry suspect this provision will have further modifications from its existing form before passage. The rules provisions in the community association act, Utah Code Ann. § 57-8a-217, will also undergo some significant changes. These changes include new definitional terms that could have significant effects on the validity of various HOA governing documents. In addition, these changes include limitations on the time period for challenging the adoption of a rule that does not comply with the notice and vetting periods allowed to owners before new rules are adopted in community associations. The lawyers at Morris Sperry are involved with these amendments through their service on the Utah CAI Legislative Action Committee and are closely watching the progress of these new 2019 Utah HOA laws. The time for this bill to get passed is slipping away, but there still remains a chance these provisions could go into law. Look for future updates from Morris Sperry on the status of this bill and the passage of other new laws in 2019 that affect HOAs.

 

 

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February 1, 2019

 

In the 2019 legislative session, the Utah legislature is considering House Bill 43 (HB 43) that would make certain actions involving emotional support animals (also known as support animals, companion animals, or comfort animals) a class C misdemeanor. HB 43 has passed the house and is under consideration in the senate. By all indications, this bill is set to sail through the legislature and to be signed by the governor. HB 43 is sponsored by Representative Dunnigan and Senator Bramble, both of whom sponsored the bills that formed the original laws that this is bill is modifying and expanding.

The existing statute, Utah Code Ann.  § 62A-5b-106, already made it a crime to interfere with the exercise of a disabled person's right to a service animal. The existing statute also made it a crime for someone to "intentionally and knowingly" represent to another that an animal is a service animal when the animal is not. It also made it a crime to misrepresent facts to a health care provider for the purpose of obtaining a service animal. H.B. 43 would modify the existing law to, for the first time, included emotional support animals along with service animals. The distinction is important because service animals are a carefully prescribed and easily identified category of animals that are typically trained and certified to provide very specific services to a disabled owner. Emotional support animals, on the other hand, have no specialized training or certifications because that is not necessary for their function. Although the benefit of emotional support animals can vary among their disabled owners, the typical benefit is a therapeutic and helpful calming of the symptoms of certain mental conditions, such as extreme anxiety and PTSD. In short, the presence and companionship of the animal provides the benefit.

In the world of condominiums, PUDs, Townhomes, HOAs, homeowners’ associations, and other community associations, this is a critically important issue. The federal Fair Housing Act and the Utah state Fair Housing Act both provide that owners and community associations must make reasonable accommodations for both service animals and emotional support animals. This means if an HOA has rules or covenants that prohibit animals or proscribe limitations on animals (such as their size or where they may go in the project), the owner or homeowners’ association may have to make exceptions to those rules under circumstances where a disabled individual needs the animal to assist with one or more of the disabled person's major life activities. A common example of this type of situation is a veteran who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome and has a dog who helps minimize the symptoms of that condition. That veteran may have the right to move into a condominium project that does not allow animals, and nonetheless keep her dog.

The big question for HOAs is how H.B. 43 will impact requests for accommodation and the responses of HOAs to those requests. If a condominium board of directors believes a request to keep an emotional support animal is not genuine, could they and should they file a criminal complaint? What is "enough" information to support the filing of a criminal complaint? Is the filing retaliation that is prohibited under federal law? Also, what about people who complain about an emotional support animal in a project or harass the owner who has one? Have they now violated a criminal law? What about Boards who deny a request for accommodation, are they now potentially liable criminally? Do the criminal provisions apply at all to an HOA board of trustees or an HOA board of directors? 

As other states have passed similar laws, the lawyers at Morris Sperry have been carefully watching this issue. They are prepared to assist their clients (owners requesting accommodations and HOAs responding to requests) with answers to the hard questions above. No firm in Utah has more experience with Fair Housing laws in homeowners’ associations. The lawyers at Morris Sperry will continue to monitor HB 43 in the 2019 Utah legislature and will be prepared to assist their clients with the nuances of this law and other Fair Housing laws.

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May 18, 2018

 

Quinn Sperry presented on disaster preparedness at the local CAI education event in Midvale, Utah. With Quinn's unique experience as a member of the Midvale City Counsel, he spoke on the intersection between local government and HOAs and the cutting-edge efforts by his city to ensure that HOAs can take advantage of federal funds after a natural disaster. Without proactive efforts like this, condominiums and PUDs suffering from earthquake, storm, or other natural disaster damage may be unable to obtain federal funds for cleanup. Morris Sperry lawyers are always looking for an angle to help their community association clients and all HOAs in Utah. That is why the Morris Sperry law firm is the best HOA law firm in Utah.

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May 16, 2018

On April 18, 2018, the Federal Communications Commission issued a Declaratory Ruling that reiterates the limitations on controls private and public entities can impose on the installation of satellite dishes and antennas. The FCC struck down a Philadelphia ordinance that attempted to impose limitations on the installation of satellite dishes on the front of homes and buildings. In its ruling, the FCC reiterated many well established principles from its Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule, 47 C.F.R. § 1.4000, the (“OTARD Rule"). These principles apply directly in condominiums, townhomes, PUDs, and other community associations. In short, the OTARD Rule applies to direct broadcast satellite antennas that are one meter or less in diameter or diagonal measurement (except in Alaska) and are designed to receive or transmit video programming services through multipoint distribution services. The OTARD Rule also applies to antennas used to receive fixed wireless or broadband Internet signals. For the OTARD Rule to apply, the antenna must be installed “on property within the exclusive use or control of the antenna user where the user has a direct or indirect ownership or leasehold interest in the property” upon which the antenna is located. The OTARD Rule does not apply to restrictions on installations in common areas or elements. It provides that a restriction impairs installation, maintenance, or use of a protected antenna if it: (1) unreasonably delays or prevents installation, maintenance, or use; (2) unreasonably increases the cost of installation, maintenance, or use; or (3) precludes reception of an acceptable quality signal. There are exceptions to the rule for restrictions necessary to address clearly defined, legitimate safety or historic preservation issues, provided such restrictions are as narrowly tailored as possible, impose as little burden as necessary to achieve the foregoing objectives, and apply in a nondiscriminatory manner throughout the regulated area.

If you are unsure whether the OTARD Rule is implicated in a rule governing satellite dish installations in a Utah condominium association, townhome, PUD, or other community association, contact the HOA attorneys at Morris Sperry for advice. The Morris Sperry HOA law firm stays current on the law and has the best HOA lawyers in Utah to help you with these issues.

 

 

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November 16, 2017

John Morris presented today on new Fair Housing Act regulations that could dramatically change how HOAs look at housing discrimination. In the modification to the regulations, [81 FR 63074, Sept. 14, 2016], at 24 CFR § 100.7 - LIABILITY FOR DISCRIMINATORY HOUSING PRACTICES, HUD for the first time clearly defines the potential for direct liability for an HOA for the discriminatory actions of an Owner in the Association. A condominium association or homeowners association could be liable for "Failing to take prompt action to correct and end a discriminatory housing practice by a third party, where it knew or should have known of the conduct and had the power to correct it." It is now left to the HOAs to determine who the third parties are, what it means to "have the power to correct," and to figure out how to exercise that power in a way that satisfies the requirements of the Fair Housing Act. HUD also issued new regulations on Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Environment Harassment found at 24 CFR § 100.600. These new regulations made it clear that Pro Quo and Hostile Environment Harassment  is illegal under the Fair Housing Act.  John Morris discussed these issues at the CAI luncheon presentation along with other panelists who included Chris Robison from the Utah Antidiscrimination and Labor Division. Morris Sperry has as much or more experience with defending and prosecuting HOA Fair Housing complaints that any firm in Utah, and offers their homeowners association clients and owner clients solid advice and legal representation in these complicated and fact intensive matters.   

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August 31, 2017

 

Quinn Sperry was elected by his peers to serve as the Treasurer of the Community Association Law Section of the Utah State Bar for the 2017 through 2018 year. He was elected at the 2017 annual meeting of the section. This further demonstrates Morris Sperry's commitment to service. Quinn served on a committee of the section since 2016 and will continue to support the section that was Morris Sperry's idea and that Morris Sperry applied to create with the Utah State Bar in 2015. Quinn is looking forward to helping the section fulfil its mission and goals.

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August 31, 2017

 

On August 31, 2017, John Morris teamed up with Matt Liapis, a GIS expert, to discuss GIS and digital mapping technology and how it can be used in litigation. Specifically, John explained how this technology was used by Morris Sperry in obtaining a fifteen million dollar judgment. GIS presents a new opportunity for visualizing and analyzing property ownership on a massive scale and in a way that simplifies and quantifies a tremendous amount of data in simple to see and understand maps. Mat Liapis testified as a GIS expert in the trial and was able to effectively and efficiently demonstrate on digital maps the ownership of thousands of parcels of property at several different time periods. He was further able to visualize and quantify hundreds of lots upon which certain documents had been recorded. Using alternative methods of quantifying and presenting this data such as through traditional title searches and reports would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. In contrast, the GIS analysis and mapping was more persuasive, easily understood, and cost a small faction of that amount. Morris Sperry uses cutting edge technology in litigation and trial both to increase the persuasiveness of their arguments and to keep costs down. 

 

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May 31, 2017

 

In what is almost certainly the largest wrongful lien verdict in Utah and perhaps the largest in the United States, Morris Sperry lawyers obtained a $15,110,000 wrongful lien judgment (pursuant to the Utah Wrongful Lien Act beginning at Utah Code Ann. Section 38-9-101) for their clients after a week-long trial. The judgment out of the Fourth District Court includes over fourteen million dollars in wrongful lien statutory damages and over half a million dollars in attorney fees. The trial judgment included both an award of $3,000 per interest holder under Utah Code Ann. Section 38-9-203(1) and an award of $10,000 per interest holder under Utah Code Ann. Section 38-9-203(2). The judgment was obtained for three association clients, Cold Springs, Rock Creek, and Willow Springs in the Ranches at Eagle Mountain. In addition to the massive verdict, Morris Sperry obtained an order of quiet title eliminating forever any obligation of the owners in Morris Sperry's client associations to pay assessments to the Ranches master association and clearing the title to their homes of any CC&Rs, declarations, bylaws, notices of liens, and other documents previously recorded by the Ranches.

It started when Morris Sperry was retained to review some irregularities in the amendment procedures used by the Ranches master association. Morris Sperry lawyers figured out that the Ranches documents had serious legal defects and could potentially be invalidated, freeing Morris Sperry's clients from any obligations of the master association and eliminating over ten thousand dollars a month in assessments being paid by the owners in Morris Sperry's client associations. Based on the detailed and extensive analysis of the legal issues prepared by Morris Sperry, their clients were confident going forward with an extraordinary challenge to the Ranches authority even though the master association had operated for more than ten years. When the Ranches refused to release its documents, Morris Sperry filed and prosecuted a lawsuit that involved complicated legal and equitable issues.The Morris Sperry attorneys' unparallelled understanding of HOA law and extensive complex litigation experience allowed their clients to achieve this amazing trial result and huge verdict. When you have an HOA legal problem and you really want the right answer, this case is just one more example of why Morris Sperry is the only choice in Utah.

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May 24, 2016

While we generally trust in the integrity of owners, managers, and board members counting votes by owners at HOA board elections, that trust must have limits in the form of good controls. Investigations into condominium election fraud in Florida highlight the problem.  In one case, 115% of the owners voted in the annual election! In another, multiple people have confirmed that ballots submitted on their behalf were entirely fraudulent and do not contain their signature. The goal of this fraud is different in different community associations. Sometimes it is a misguided but innocent effort on the part of board members to keep election costs down. Other times it is an effort by entrenched board members to remain in power.  Even worse, sometimes it is part of a concerted effort to rob the assocaition of funds starting with the people on the board remaining in control and sometimes with the collusion of the manager. Hundreds of other complaints of election fraud were submitted in Florida in the last few years.   

It would be delusional to think this type of association electrion fraud never occurs in Utah, even if it is rare. Morris Sperry can help implement processes on behalf of associations and owners to minimize this risk when owners are concerned about election fraud or to proactively prevent any concerns. We have successfully participated in several hotly contested elections and implemented mutually agreeable procedures for collecting and counting ballots. These procedures gave everyone confidence in the results. Morris Sperry has the experience to advise associations and owners about elections, voting, counting procedures, and safeguards to ensure the integrity of the voting process.  

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February 22, 2019

John Morris, Quinn Sperry, and Lauren DeVoe presented an HOA legislative and case law update to lawyers in the Utah State Bar on February 21, 2019. The Morris Sperry HOA attorneys explained and discussed new statutes affecting homeowners' associations including new laws and cases related to construction defects and requests for emotional support animals. The presentation was packed by Utah lawyers looking for an HOA update. When lawyers need an education on HOA issues, they go to the lawyers at Morris Sperry because they are focused exclusively on HOA law.  

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February 15, 2019

 

The Utah CAI Legislative Action Committee is running HB 329, that will have new HOA laws. The bill will make changes (some minor and some more important) to various sections of the Condominium Ownership Act and the Community Association Act. After negotiations with various constituents, the bill is in the process of being shortened from its current form but will still include some changes that Utah community associations and homeowners’ associations will need to know about. There will be some technical changes to Utah Code Ann. § 57-8-13.1 and § 57-8a-105 related to lien enforcement during periods when a homeowners’ association has failed to register with the Department of Commerce. The basic obligation of all Utah HOAs to register with the department of commerce remains. Utah Code Ann. § 57-8-54 will undergo substantial changes related to owners requesting payoff information from their HOA or the HOA's manager. The lawyers at Morris Sperry suspect this provision will have further modifications from its existing form before passage. The rules provisions in the community association act, Utah Code Ann. § 57-8a-217, will also undergo some significant changes. These changes include new definitional terms that could have significant effects on the validity of various HOA governing documents. In addition, these changes include limitations on the time period for challenging the adoption of a rule that does not comply with the notice and vetting periods allowed to owners before new rules are adopted in community associations. The lawyers at Morris Sperry are involved with these amendments through their service on the Utah CAI Legislative Action Committee and are closely watching the progress of these new 2019 Utah HOA laws. The time for this bill to get passed is slipping away, but there still remains a chance these provisions could go into law. Look for future updates from Morris Sperry on the status of this bill and the passage of other new laws in 2019 that affect HOAs.

 

 

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February 1, 2019

 

In the 2019 legislative session, the Utah legislature is considering House Bill 43 (HB 43) that would make certain actions involving emotional support animals (also known as support animals, companion animals, or comfort animals) a class C misdemeanor. HB 43 has passed the house and is under consideration in the senate. By all indications, this bill is set to sail through the legislature and to be signed by the governor. HB 43 is sponsored by Representative Dunnigan and Senator Bramble, both of whom sponsored the bills that formed the original laws that this is bill is modifying and expanding.

The existing statute, Utah Code Ann.  § 62A-5b-106, already made it a crime to interfere with the exercise of a disabled person's right to a service animal. The existing statute also made it a crime for someone to "intentionally and knowingly" represent to another that an animal is a service animal when the animal is not. It also made it a crime to misrepresent facts to a health care provider for the purpose of obtaining a service animal. H.B. 43 would modify the existing law to, for the first time, included emotional support animals along with service animals. The distinction is important because service animals are a carefully prescribed and easily identified category of animals that are typically trained and certified to provide very specific services to a disabled owner. Emotional support animals, on the other hand, have no specialized training or certifications because that is not necessary for their function. Although the benefit of emotional support animals can vary among their disabled owners, the typical benefit is a therapeutic and helpful calming of the symptoms of certain mental conditions, such as extreme anxiety and PTSD. In short, the presence and companionship of the animal provides the benefit.

In the world of condominiums, PUDs, Townhomes, HOAs, homeowners’ associations, and other community associations, this is a critically important issue. The federal Fair Housing Act and the Utah state Fair Housing Act both provide that owners and community associations must make reasonable accommodations for both service animals and emotional support animals. This means if an HOA has rules or covenants that prohibit animals or proscribe limitations on animals (such as their size or where they may go in the project), the owner or homeowners’ association may have to make exceptions to those rules under circumstances where a disabled individual needs the animal to assist with one or more of the disabled person's major life activities. A common example of this type of situation is a veteran who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome and has a dog who helps minimize the symptoms of that condition. That veteran may have the right to move into a condominium project that does not allow animals, and nonetheless keep her dog.

The big question for HOAs is how H.B. 43 will impact requests for accommodation and the responses of HOAs to those requests. If a condominium board of directors believes a request to keep an emotional support animal is not genuine, could they and should they file a criminal complaint? What is "enough" information to support the filing of a criminal complaint? Is the filing retaliation that is prohibited under federal law? Also, what about people who complain about an emotional support animal in a project or harass the owner who has one? Have they now violated a criminal law? What about Boards who deny a request for accommodation, are they now potentially liable criminally? Do the criminal provisions apply at all to an HOA board of trustees or an HOA board of directors? 

As other states have passed similar laws, the lawyers at Morris Sperry have been carefully watching this issue. They are prepared to assist their clients (owners requesting accommodations and HOAs responding to requests) with answers to the hard questions above. No firm in Utah has more experience with Fair Housing laws in homeowners’ associations. The lawyers at Morris Sperry will continue to monitor HB 43 in the 2019 Utah legislature and will be prepared to assist their clients with the nuances of this law and other Fair Housing laws.

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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 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 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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February 22, 2019

John Morris, Quinn Sperry, and Lauren DeVoe presented an HOA legislative and case law update to lawyers in the Utah State Bar on February 21, 2019. The Morris Sperry HOA attorneys explained and discussed new statutes affecting homeowners' associations including new laws and cases related to construction defects and requests for emotional support animals. The presentation was packed by Utah lawyers looking for an HOA update. When lawyers need an education on HOA issues, they go to the lawyers at Morris Sperry because they are focused exclusively on HOA law.  

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February 15, 2019

 

The Utah CAI Legislative Action Committee is running HB 329, that will have new HOA laws. The bill will make changes (some minor and some more important) to various sections of the Condominium Ownership Act and the Community Association Act. After negotiations with various constituents, the bill is in the process of being shortened from its current form but will still include some changes that Utah community associations and homeowners’ associations will need to know about. There will be some technical changes to Utah Code Ann. § 57-8-13.1 and § 57-8a-105 related to lien enforcement during periods when a homeowners’ association has failed to register with the Department of Commerce. The basic obligation of all Utah HOAs to register with the department of commerce remains. Utah Code Ann. § 57-8-54 will undergo substantial changes related to owners requesting payoff information from their HOA or the HOA's manager. The lawyers at Morris Sperry suspect this provision will have further modifications from its existing form before passage. The rules provisions in the community association act, Utah Code Ann. § 57-8a-217, will also undergo some significant changes. These changes include new definitional terms that could have significant effects on the validity of various HOA governing documents. In addition, these changes include limitations on the time period for challenging the adoption of a rule that does not comply with the notice and vetting periods allowed to owners before new rules are adopted in community associations. The lawyers at Morris Sperry are involved with these amendments through their service on the Utah CAI Legislative Action Committee and are closely watching the progress of these new 2019 Utah HOA laws. The time for this bill to get passed is slipping away, but there still remains a chance these provisions could go into law. Look for future updates from Morris Sperry on the status of this bill and the passage of other new laws in 2019 that affect HOAs.

 

 

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February 1, 2019

 

In the 2019 legislative session, the Utah legislature is considering House Bill 43 (HB 43) that would make certain actions involving emotional support animals (also known as support animals, companion animals, or comfort animals) a class C misdemeanor. HB 43 has passed the house and is under consideration in the senate. By all indications, this bill is set to sail through the legislature and to be signed by the governor. HB 43 is sponsored by Representative Dunnigan and Senator Bramble, both of whom sponsored the bills that formed the original laws that this is bill is modifying and expanding.

The existing statute, Utah Code Ann.  § 62A-5b-106, already made it a crime to interfere with the exercise of a disabled person's right to a service animal. The existing statute also made it a crime for someone to "intentionally and knowingly" represent to another that an animal is a service animal when the animal is not. It also made it a crime to misrepresent facts to a health care provider for the purpose of obtaining a service animal. H.B. 43 would modify the existing law to, for the first time, included emotional support animals along with service animals. The distinction is important because service animals are a carefully prescribed and easily identified category of animals that are typically trained and certified to provide very specific services to a disabled owner. Emotional support animals, on the other hand, have no specialized training or certifications because that is not necessary for their function. Although the benefit of emotional support animals can vary among their disabled owners, the typical benefit is a therapeutic and helpful calming of the symptoms of certain mental conditions, such as extreme anxiety and PTSD. In short, the presence and companionship of the animal provides the benefit.

In the world of condominiums, PUDs, Townhomes, HOAs, homeowners’ associations, and other community associations, this is a critically important issue. The federal Fair Housing Act and the Utah state Fair Housing Act both provide that owners and community associations must make reasonable accommodations for both service animals and emotional support animals. This means if an HOA has rules or covenants that prohibit animals or proscribe limitations on animals (such as their size or where they may go in the project), the owner or homeowners’ association may have to make exceptions to those rules under circumstances where a disabled individual needs the animal to assist with one or more of the disabled person's major life activities. A common example of this type of situation is a veteran who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome and has a dog who helps minimize the symptoms of that condition. That veteran may have the right to move into a condominium project that does not allow animals, and nonetheless keep her dog.

The big question for HOAs is how H.B. 43 will impact requests for accommodation and the responses of HOAs to those requests. If a condominium board of directors believes a request to keep an emotional support animal is not genuine, could they and should they file a criminal complaint? What is "enough" information to support the filing of a criminal complaint? Is the filing retaliation that is prohibited under federal law? Also, what about people who complain about an emotional support animal in a project or harass the owner who has one? Have they now violated a criminal law? What about Boards who deny a request for accommodation, are they now potentially liable criminally? Do the criminal provisions apply at all to an HOA board of trustees or an HOA board of directors? 

As other states have passed similar laws, the lawyers at Morris Sperry have been carefully watching this issue. They are prepared to assist their clients (owners requesting accommodations and HOAs responding to requests) with answers to the hard questions above. No firm in Utah has more experience with Fair Housing laws in homeowners’ associations. The lawyers at Morris Sperry will continue to monitor HB 43 in the 2019 Utah legislature and will be prepared to assist their clients with the nuances of this law and other Fair Housing laws.

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January 26, 2019

 

John Morris and Quinn Sperry, Utah homeowners association lawyers, were selected to be two of the presenters for the CCAL national HOA law seminar in New Orleans. This seminar was attended by more than 400 HOA lawyers from around the country. They presented on how to deal with divisiveness and conflict in HOAs. This very interesting issue is at the forefront of the national political debate and is a commonly encountered problem in community associations around the country and in Utah. The topic included information and practical advice for dealing with board member verses board member disputes, board member verses owner disputes, HOA verses board member disputes, and other common types of disputes in HOAs. The presentation included a careful review of the ethical rules lawyers must deal with representing parties in these disputes, along with practical advice for minimizing, deescalating, and resolving these disputes. Morris Sperry lawyers and the Morris Sperry HOA law firm are committed to resolving disputes in condominium associations, PUDs, townhomes, and other community associations as quickly, efficiently, and amicably as possible. This is why both Quinn and John have completed mediation training and frequently suggest alternatives for resolving disputes other than litigation. Attorneys who focus in HOA law, like the attorneys at Morris Sperry, understand the importance of understanding, managing, and harnessing the benefits of different opinions in homeowners associations.  

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January 25, 2019

 

Five Morris Sperry lawyers are attending the National HOA law conference in New Orleans this week. This conference is one of the best opportunities to meet and learn from HOA lawyers from around the country. Morris Sperry lawyers get exposure to legal trends and new approaches to HOA problems. This ongoing dedication and focus on community association law is why Morris Sperry is the only law firm you want working for you when you have townhome, condominium, PUD, and other HOA legal issues. 

 

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January 14, 2019

 

John Morris and Quinn Sperry are preparing to present at the National HOA Law Seminar in New Orleans. Over 500 of the best HOA lawyers in the country get together once a year to discuss advanced community association law issues. A careful selection and vetting process occurs to select speakers for this advanced seminar. John Morris and Quinn Sperry have been selected multiple times. This year's presentation will focus on the lawyer's role in divisiveness and disputes among HOA participants, including the owners, board members, and managers. A particular focus will be on the ethical challenges lawyers face in these situations. This topic was undoubtedly selected because it is so timely given the extreme polarization of country on any number of political issues and the unfortunate impact that polarization can have on the leadership and operations of community organizations. With its exclusive focus on HOA law, Morris Sperry remains the only firm in Utah to call for help when you have disputes among and between board members and between board members and owners in an HOA. 

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October 8, 2018

 

Quinn Sperry was elected Second Vice Chair by the Community Association Section of the Utah State Bar. In the same meeting, Lauren DeVoe of Morris Sperry was elected by the section as Treasurer. Morris Sperry continues their service to the community, to their fellow HOA lawyers, and to the HOA and community association law industry as a whole through this service. Since John Morris of Morris Sperry came up with the idea for this section, lawyers from Morris Sperry have advocated for the section and have volunteered to serve.

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September 6, 2018

 

John Morris presented for the local Community Association Institute (CAI) chapter on the nuanced legal issues surrounding emotional support animals, sometimes referred to as "companion animals," "comfort animals," "ESA's," or even improperly as "service animals." This issue is exploding in Utah community associations, including condominium associations and PUDs. Not only is the issue arising more often, it is complicated and a potential trap for unadvised condominium associations and other community associations. The Fair Housing Act, both in Utah and federally, has very specific legal requirements that must be complied with when a request for accommodation has been made. Even the determination of whether a request for accommodation has been made or not can be difficult. The lawyers at Morris Sperry deal with the Fair Housing Act on a daily basis, both prosecuting and defending complaints with the Utah Antidiscrimination and Labor Division and with HUD (the Department of Housing and Urban Development). No other law firm in Utah has as much experience with community associations, emotional support animals, and the Fair Housing Act.

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May 18, 2018

 

Quinn Sperry presented on disaster preparedness at the local CAI education event in Midvale, Utah. With Quinn's unique experience as a member of the Midvale City Counsel, he spoke on the intersection between local government and HOAs and the cutting-edge efforts by his city to ensure that HOAs can take advantage of federal funds after a natural disaster. Without proactive efforts like this, condominiums and PUDs suffering from earthquake, storm, or other natural disaster damage may be unable to obtain federal funds for cleanup. Morris Sperry lawyers are always looking for an angle to help their community association clients and all HOAs in Utah. That is why the Morris Sperry law firm is the best HOA law firm in Utah.

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April 20, 2018

The 2018 Legal Elite is a listing of the top attorneys in Utah as voted by their peers. The Legal Elite highlights top attorneys in 27 categories. Active members of the Utah State Bar were invited to cast votes for peers whom they consider the state’s best attorneys. To quality to be on the list, attorneys must have at least five years of practice. Utah Business received thousands of votes. The top vote-getters were further vetted by a panel of senior attorneys from several firms covering multiple practice areas, representing a wealth of knowledge regarding Utah’s legal community. The final selection were the Utah Legal Elite attorneys.  John Morris and Quinn Sperry have both been selected for multiple years to this prestigious list. 

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February 22, 2019

John Morris, Quinn Sperry, and Lauren DeVoe presented an HOA legislative and case law update to lawyers in the Utah State Bar on February 21, 2019. The Morris Sperry HOA attorneys explained and discussed new statutes affecting homeowners' associations including new laws and cases related to construction defects and requests for emotional support animals. The presentation was packed by Utah lawyers looking for an HOA update. When lawyers need an education on HOA issues, they go to the lawyers at Morris Sperry because they are focused exclusively on HOA law.  

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February 15, 2019

 

The Utah CAI Legislative Action Committee is running HB 329, that will have new HOA laws. The bill will make changes (some minor and some more important) to various sections of the Condominium Ownership Act and the Community Association Act. After negotiations with various constituents, the bill is in the process of being shortened from its current form but will still include some changes that Utah community associations and homeowners’ associations will need to know about. There will be some technical changes to Utah Code Ann. § 57-8-13.1 and § 57-8a-105 related to lien enforcement during periods when a homeowners’ association has failed to register with the Department of Commerce. The basic obligation of all Utah HOAs to register with the department of commerce remains. Utah Code Ann. § 57-8-54 will undergo substantial changes related to owners requesting payoff information from their HOA or the HOA's manager. The lawyers at Morris Sperry suspect this provision will have further modifications from its existing form before passage. The rules provisions in the community association act, Utah Code Ann. § 57-8a-217, will also undergo some significant changes. These changes include new definitional terms that could have significant effects on the validity of various HOA governing documents. In addition, these changes include limitations on the time period for challenging the adoption of a rule that does not comply with the notice and vetting periods allowed to owners before new rules are adopted in community associations. The lawyers at Morris Sperry are involved with these amendments through their service on the Utah CAI Legislative Action Committee and are closely watching the progress of these new 2019 Utah HOA laws. The time for this bill to get passed is slipping away, but there still remains a chance these provisions could go into law. Look for future updates from Morris Sperry on the status of this bill and the passage of other new laws in 2019 that affect HOAs.

 

 

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February 1, 2019

 

In the 2019 legislative session, the Utah legislature is considering House Bill 43 (HB 43) that would make certain actions involving emotional support animals (also known as support animals, companion animals, or comfort animals) a class C misdemeanor. HB 43 has passed the house and is under consideration in the senate. By all indications, this bill is set to sail through the legislature and to be signed by the governor. HB 43 is sponsored by Representative Dunnigan and Senator Bramble, both of whom sponsored the bills that formed the original laws that this is bill is modifying and expanding.

The existing statute, Utah Code Ann.  § 62A-5b-106, already made it a crime to interfere with the exercise of a disabled person's right to a service animal. The existing statute also made it a crime for someone to "intentionally and knowingly" represent to another that an animal is a service animal when the animal is not. It also made it a crime to misrepresent facts to a health care provider for the purpose of obtaining a service animal. H.B. 43 would modify the existing law to, for the first time, included emotional support animals along with service animals. The distinction is important because service animals are a carefully prescribed and easily identified category of animals that are typically trained and certified to provide very specific services to a disabled owner. Emotional support animals, on the other hand, have no specialized training or certifications because that is not necessary for their function. Although the benefit of emotional support animals can vary among their disabled owners, the typical benefit is a therapeutic and helpful calming of the symptoms of certain mental conditions, such as extreme anxiety and PTSD. In short, the presence and companionship of the animal provides the benefit.

In the world of condominiums, PUDs, Townhomes, HOAs, homeowners’ associations, and other community associations, this is a critically important issue. The federal Fair Housing Act and the Utah state Fair Housing Act both provide that owners and community associations must make reasonable accommodations for both service animals and emotional support animals. This means if an HOA has rules or covenants that prohibit animals or proscribe limitations on animals (such as their size or where they may go in the project), the owner or homeowners’ association may have to make exceptions to those rules under circumstances where a disabled individual needs the animal to assist with one or more of the disabled person's major life activities. A common example of this type of situation is a veteran who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome and has a dog who helps minimize the symptoms of that condition. That veteran may have the right to move into a condominium project that does not allow animals, and nonetheless keep her dog.

The big question for HOAs is how H.B. 43 will impact requests for accommodation and the responses of HOAs to those requests. If a condominium board of directors believes a request to keep an emotional support animal is not genuine, could they and should they file a criminal complaint? What is "enough" information to support the filing of a criminal complaint? Is the filing retaliation that is prohibited under federal law? Also, what about people who complain about an emotional support animal in a project or harass the owner who has one? Have they now violated a criminal law? What about Boards who deny a request for accommodation, are they now potentially liable criminally? Do the criminal provisions apply at all to an HOA board of trustees or an HOA board of directors? 

As other states have passed similar laws, the lawyers at Morris Sperry have been carefully watching this issue. They are prepared to assist their clients (owners requesting accommodations and HOAs responding to requests) with answers to the hard questions above. No firm in Utah has more experience with Fair Housing laws in homeowners’ associations. The lawyers at Morris Sperry will continue to monitor HB 43 in the 2019 Utah legislature and will be prepared to assist their clients with the nuances of this law and other Fair Housing laws.

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January 26, 2019

 

John Morris and Quinn Sperry, Utah homeowners association lawyers, were selected to be two of the presenters for the CCAL national HOA law seminar in New Orleans. This seminar was attended by more than 400 HOA lawyers from around the country. They presented on how to deal with divisiveness and conflict in HOAs. This very interesting issue is at the forefront of the national political debate and is a commonly encountered problem in community associations around the country and in Utah. The topic included information and practical advice for dealing with board member verses board member disputes, board member verses owner disputes, HOA verses board member disputes, and other common types of disputes in HOAs. The presentation included a careful review of the ethical rules lawyers must deal with representing parties in these disputes, along with practical advice for minimizing, deescalating, and resolving these disputes. Morris Sperry lawyers and the Morris Sperry HOA law firm are committed to resolving disputes in condominium associations, PUDs, townhomes, and other community associations as quickly, efficiently, and amicably as possible. This is why both Quinn and John have completed mediation training and frequently suggest alternatives for resolving disputes other than litigation. Attorneys who focus in HOA law, like the attorneys at Morris Sperry, understand the importance of understanding, managing, and harnessing the benefits of different opinions in homeowners associations.  

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January 25, 2019

 

Five Morris Sperry lawyers are attending the National HOA law conference in New Orleans this week. This conference is one of the best opportunities to meet and learn from HOA lawyers from around the country. Morris Sperry lawyers get exposure to legal trends and new approaches to HOA problems. This ongoing dedication and focus on community association law is why Morris Sperry is the only law firm you want working for you when you have townhome, condominium, PUD, and other HOA legal issues. 

 

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January 14, 2019

 

John Morris and Quinn Sperry are preparing to present at the National HOA Law Seminar in New Orleans. Over 500 of the best HOA lawyers in the country get together once a year to discuss advanced community association law issues. A careful selection and vetting process occurs to select speakers for this advanced seminar. John Morris and Quinn Sperry have been selected multiple times. This year's presentation will focus on the lawyer's role in divisiveness and disputes among HOA participants, including the owners, board members, and managers. A particular focus will be on the ethical challenges lawyers face in these situations. This topic was undoubtedly selected because it is so timely given the extreme polarization of country on any number of political issues and the unfortunate impact that polarization can have on the leadership and operations of community organizations. With its exclusive focus on HOA law, Morris Sperry remains the only firm in Utah to call for help when you have disputes among and between board members and between board members and owners in an HOA. 

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October 8, 2018

 

Quinn Sperry was elected Second Vice Chair by the Community Association Section of the Utah State Bar. In the same meeting, Lauren DeVoe of Morris Sperry was elected by the section as Treasurer. Morris Sperry continues their service to the community, to their fellow HOA lawyers, and to the HOA and community association law industry as a whole through this service. Since John Morris of Morris Sperry came up with the idea for this section, lawyers from Morris Sperry have advocated for the section and have volunteered to serve.

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September 6, 2018

 

John Morris presented for the local Community Association Institute (CAI) chapter on the nuanced legal issues surrounding emotional support animals, sometimes referred to as "companion animals," "comfort animals," "ESA's," or even improperly as "service animals." This issue is exploding in Utah community associations, including condominium associations and PUDs. Not only is the issue arising more often, it is complicated and a potential trap for unadvised condominium associations and other community associations. The Fair Housing Act, both in Utah and federally, has very specific legal requirements that must be complied with when a request for accommodation has been made. Even the determination of whether a request for accommodation has been made or not can be difficult. The lawyers at Morris Sperry deal with the Fair Housing Act on a daily basis, both prosecuting and defending complaints with the Utah Antidiscrimination and Labor Division and with HUD (the Department of Housing and Urban Development). No other law firm in Utah has as much experience with community associations, emotional support animals, and the Fair Housing Act.

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May 18, 2018

 

Quinn Sperry presented on disaster preparedness at the local CAI education event in Midvale, Utah. With Quinn's unique experience as a member of the Midvale City Counsel, he spoke on the intersection between local government and HOAs and the cutting-edge efforts by his city to ensure that HOAs can take advantage of federal funds after a natural disaster. Without proactive efforts like this, condominiums and PUDs suffering from earthquake, storm, or other natural disaster damage may be unable to obtain federal funds for cleanup. Morris Sperry lawyers are always looking for an angle to help their community association clients and all HOAs in Utah. That is why the Morris Sperry law firm is the best HOA law firm in Utah.

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November 16, 2017

John Morris presented today on new Fair Housing Act regulations that could dramatically change how HOAs look at housing discrimination. In the modification to the regulations, [81 FR 63074, Sept. 14, 2016], at 24 CFR § 100.7 - LIABILITY FOR DISCRIMINATORY HOUSING PRACTICES, HUD for the first time clearly defines the potential for direct liability for an HOA for the discriminatory actions of an Owner in the Association. A condominium association or homeowners association could be liable for "Failing to take prompt action to correct and end a discriminatory housing practice by a third party, where it knew or should have known of the conduct and had the power to correct it." It is now left to the HOAs to determine who the third parties are, what it means to "have the power to correct," and to figure out how to exercise that power in a way that satisfies the requirements of the Fair Housing Act. HUD also issued new regulations on Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Environment Harassment found at 24 CFR § 100.600. These new regulations made it clear that Pro Quo and Hostile Environment Harassment  is illegal under the Fair Housing Act.  John Morris discussed these issues at the CAI luncheon presentation along with other panelists who included Chris Robison from the Utah Antidiscrimination and Labor Division. Morris Sperry has as much or more experience with defending and prosecuting HOA Fair Housing complaints that any firm in Utah, and offers their homeowners association clients and owner clients solid advice and legal representation in these complicated and fact intensive matters.   

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