John Morris, a lawyer at Morris Sperry, testified with Representative Gage Froerer before a joint session of the House and Senate Business and Labor Committees at the Utah State Capitol. They presented an overview of HOA legislation that will likely be up for passage in the 2015 legislative session. John gave a brief summary of potential laws impacting rentals in community associations, open board meetings, condominium declaration amendments, fines and warnings, utility shutoffs in condominiums and townhomes, and the hierarchy of governing documents and HOA laws including the declaration, bylaws, plat, articles of incorporation, Utah Condominium Ownership Act, Utah Community Association Act, and the Revised Nonprofit Corporations Act. These laws will impact associations throughout the state including in many cities and counties with high numbers of HOAs such as Salt Lake City, Park City, Heber, Ogden, St. George, Provo, Salt Lake County, Summit County, Wasatch County, and Washington County. Through the volunteer time of its attorneys, Morris Sperry continues its effort and dedication to create balanced and sensible community association and HOA laws. This is only one of the reasons that Morris Sperry remains Utah's best HOA law firm to be general counsel to homeowners associations and to represent homeowners and developers with HOA legal matters. You can listen to the testimony by following this link: http://utahlegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=14&clip_id=1...
Morris Sperry Guests and all other participants in the CAI annual golf tournament had a great time. The lawyers and staff at Morris Sperry hosted several teams, all of whom enjoyed the day. Morris Sperry is looking forward to next year and to bringing even more guests out for a relaxing day of golf. Morris Sperry's guests included HOA managers and board members from Park City, Salt Lake City, Draper, and Provo. The HOA attorneys at Morris Sperry enjoy and look forward to the times when those in the industry get a short break from the tough job of managing and providing legal services to Utah community associations including condominiums, puds, townhomes, and homeowners associations.
As part of Morris Sperry's effort to support its Park City attorneys and the local community, Morris Sperry joined the Park City Chamber of Commerce. Two Morris Sperry lawyers reside in Park City and Morris Sperry serves many clients in Wasatch County and Summit County. Morris Sperry looks forward to participating in Chamber activities and supporting Park City and community associations in the Park City and Heber City area.
In a recent decision, the Utah Supreme Court held, a condominium property manager owed no duty to a resident in the complex who tripped and fell on tree shoots in the lawn. In a lengthy decision addressing several legal theories, the Utah Supreme Court stated that the property manager was not a "possessor" or the land, did not owe an independent duty to the owner, and had generally complied with its contractual obligations. One lesson is clear from the decision. If a property manager takes any action to contribute to a dangerous or unsafe condition, the manager may be liable. Although the court was concerned that the property manager may have contributed to the danger caused by the tree shoots through repeated mowing instead of proper removal, the issue had not been properly addressed by the plaintiff and was therefore disregarded. The core lesson for associations and managers is to always strive to resolve unsafe conditions in HOAs. Nobody wants anyone to get injured enjoying the open space in an HOA, regardless of legal concerns.
Houston is a unique city in that it has no zoning. Theoretically, anyone can build anything they want anywhere. In reality the ability to develop remains constrained in other ways that prevent building anything anywhere. In a recent and unique case a developer considered building a large mixed use project near single family residential areas. The residential owners sued and obtained a verdict for over a million dollars under the theory that just the plan for the new development created a "nuisance" that damaged them. Although this is an interesting case, it would be very difficult to bring a case in Utah under the same legal theory. More importantly, most new construction in Utah is subject to some zoning regulation. This case remains, however, an interesting result of the never ending tension between existing land owners and developers of nearby parcels. Morris Sperry is uniquely situated to assist both existing owners and developers in these situations.
In a well attended event, Brandon Myers of Morris Sperry provided insight and explanation to the complicated issue of reserves. All condominiums, HOAs, townhomes, and PUDs must now take certain steps to obtain a reserve analysis and to deal with the question of how much to save in reserves. The lawyers at Morris Sperry are well versed in this statute and its requirements and can offer community association leaders the advice they need to comply with the requirements of the statute and avoid the serious penalties that can apply if they don't. The Utah CAI round table events offer a fantastic opportunity for community leaders to get good advice on important topics. Morris Sperry continues to support CAI and these events through hundreds of hours of volunteer attorney time.
In a recent study performed by CAI, only 10% of owners expressed some level of dissatisfaction with their HOA. Almost two-thirds of owners rate their association experience as positive, with 26% indicating that they are neutral. The study goes on to confirm that 90% of owners say association board members serve the best interests of their communities, 92% of association owners are on friendly terms with their association board members, and 70% confirm that they believe the association rules protect and enhance property values. Although the media and critics tend to focus on the occasional association dispute, most associations are well run and the owners in them are very happy with what the association is doing.
In another funny skit involving armed garden gnomes, the Morris Sperry team highlighted the serious issues arising when community associations warn and fine owners. The skit also presented some important issues that can arise if an owner requests a hearing. Morris Sperry continues its commitment to CAI and with training managers and homeowners.
As part of Morris Sperry's involvement in the drafting and evolution of community association law in Utah, John Morris and others testified on behalf of the Community Association Institute Legislative Action Committee in a house committee hearing opposing a bill aimed at invalidating legally adopted rental restrictions. As he has been for the past several years, John Morris is heavily involved in changes to the law proposed in the 2014 legislative session.
Morris Sperry has more Utah lawyers at the CAI national HOA law seminar than any other firm in the state. The lawyers took four days to learn and talk about cutting edge issues facing community associations along with over 600 community associations lawyers, managers, and insurance professionals from around the country.