Should your Condominium Association be VA Certified?

VA CertificationBy: Tracy N. Danner-Bond

One out of every 11 citizens in Michigan is a veteran and may receive benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) VA Certification.  The VA may help service-members, veterans, and certain qualified surviving spouses of service-members and veterans become homeowners through a home loan guarantee benefit whereby the VA guarantees a portion of the loan.  While this benefit is virtually automatic for anyone who has served in the military (including reservists and Guard members), loan approval still requires the buyer to be approved under lender criteria.  Generally speaking, this means that the buyer must have the same minimum credit score as a buyer under an FHA loan program.

The goal of the VA loan program is to help protect the interests of veterans and the Government by ensuring that all properties located in a common interest community (such as a condominium project) meet VA regulatory requirements.  Meeting this goal as efficiently and cost effectively as possible serves the best interests of all program participants involved.  To that end, the VA has promulgated regulations and requirements for certification of condominium communities. Continue reading

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NEW FHA CERTIFICATION GUIDELINES TO LAND SOON, ENDING A 5-YEAR HOLDING PATTERN

New FHA Certifications

new fha certificationBy: Tracy N. Danner-Bond, Esq.

On June 30, 2011, the Condominium Project Approval and Processing Guide (“Guide”) was published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”).  The Guide was designed to provide Federal Housing Administration (“FHA) condominium project approval processing requirements.  Since June 30, 2011, a handful of Mortgagee Letters from HUD have provided small changes to the Guide, but for the most part, the processing requirements contained in the Guide have been in a “holding pattern” for the last 5 years.

On September 13, 2012, Mortgagee Letter 2012-18 was published, making several changes to the Guide.  Most significant of those changes affecting condominium project eligibility are the following: Continue reading

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Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: JUST KEEP SWIMMING: NAVIGATING THE WATERS OF A CO-OWNER’S CHAPTER 7 BANKRUPTCY FILING

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Chapter 7 BankruptcyBy: Melissa D. Francis, Esq.

Bankruptcy matters (chapter 7 bankruptcy) can be treacherous waters for Condominium Association Boards to navigate. Such issues should, in most cases, be referred directly to the Association’s legal counsel, who should be experienced in handling Condominium collection cases in the bankruptcy context. Nevertheless, Board members (and property managers) should at least be familiar with the basic aspects of Bankruptcy law that apply to Condominiums. This blog post will address some of the fundamentals of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy cases in relation to Condominiums.

A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy cases is often referred to as a “liquidation bankruptcy.” In this type of Bankruptcy, a Trustee is appointed to review the Chapter 7 filing and examine the Co-owners’ assets to determine if any items can be sold to generate funds for the estate allowing Creditors to receive payments. In a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy case, the Co-owner has two choices as to the treatment of the Condominium Unit: retain the property, or surrender the property. Continue reading

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PARTNER TRACY DANNER-BOND AND ATTORNEY MELISSA FRANCIS TO SPEAK AT UNITED CONDOMINIUM OWNERS OF MICHIGAN (UCOM) SEMINAR ON OCTOBER 15, 2016: PANEL DISCUSSION – QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WITH LEGAL COUNSEL

melissa-tracyWe are most pleased to announce that experienced ZDF attorneys Tracy Danner-Bond and Melissa Francis have been asked to speak at this year’s annual UCOM Seminar, entitled “Positive Progress in Community Living.”

Tracy is one of the partners of the firm and has been practicing community association law since 2004. She has extensive experience with association matters, including collections, FHA certification, and document amendments.

Melissa is a veteran attorney who practiced bankruptcy law for many years before joining ZDF in 2013. Her experience and skill-set is unmatched when it comes to assisting associations with bankruptcy-related matters.

The seminar will be held on Saturday, October 15, 2016 at the Management Education Center, 811 W. Square Lake Road, Troy, MI 48098.

The Panel discussion with legal counsel will take place from
1:25 p.m. to 2:25 p.m. in the Auditorium.

The Seminar starts at 8:00 a.m. and goes until 3:00 p.m.

The cost of registration is $125.00 for Members of UCOM and $175.00 for Non-Members.

To register, visit the UCOM website at http://www.ucomonline.org.

Continue reading

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PARTNER EDWARD ZELMANSKI TO SPEAK AT COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS INSTITUTE (CAI) SEMINAR: HOW TO IDENTIFY RED FLAGS IN YOUR GOVERNING DOCUMENTS

alex-250As many board members learn all too late, just because something is in your association’s governing documents does not mean it is desirable, legal or enforceable.

On September 28, 2016, Partner Edward Zelmanski will present
“How to Identify Red Flags in your Governing Documents and What to Update.”

This Seminar will be hosted by the Michigan Chapter of the Community Associations Institute at Farmington Hills Manor.  Please see the flyer below for more details and registration information. Continue reading

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ATTACK OF THE DRONES: HOT TOPICS IN COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION LAW

attack dronesBy Mark B. Davis

ATTACK OF THE DRONES : Given the ever-changing world in which we live, it is important for community associations to at least try to keep up with, if not stay ahead of, the latest trends.   This can seem like a daunting task for even the most progressive associations.  The rapidly expanding use of unmanned aircraft systems, commonly known as “drones,” is a prime example of one of these emerging trends.  Drones are taking command of the skies in today’s neighborhoods, and will likely affect an ever-increasing number of community associations.

Drones can be both a positive and a negative for community associations.   It has been suggested that drones could assist an association in identifying and remediating bylaw violations that might not be visible from the publicly accessible area around a unit.  As discussed later on in this article the rights of the association must be balanced with the privacy expectation of the individual co-owner.  In a recent incident in Kentucky, a man shot down a drone that he perceived was spying on his sunbathing daughter.  Generally, it seems that people do not take kindly to perceived spying by these unmanned units and assume the worst. This might be an extreme example, but it is something that associations should consider with drone usage. Continue reading

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MICHIGAN LEGISLATURE AMENDS SECTION 67 OF THE CONDOMINIUM ACT – “BIG DEVELOPER” WINS BIG, WHILE “AVERAGE JOE CO-OWNER” IS LEFT HOLDING THE BAG (AGAIN)

section 67By: Gregory J. Fioritto

On June 22, 2016, Governor Snyder signed Senate Bill No. 610 into law, amending Section 67 of the Michigan Condominium Act. The Michigan Legislature had a prime opportunity to effect real change in the law to benefit the many thousands of people who live in unfinished condominium projects as a result of The Great Recession. Sadly, the amendments to Section 67 amount to nothing more than another gift to developers in a statute that is already unfairly tilted in favor of “Big Developer” and against “Average Joe Co-owner.” Continue reading

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LISTEN TO THE PODCAST OF ZDF ATTORNEY PAUL C. SCHULTZ’S RADIO INTERVIEW WITH HOST GENE SULLIVAN ON “THE PATRIOT” AM 1280 IN MINNEAPOLIS REGARDING HOUSE BILL 5655 AND ITS POTENTIAL ADVERSE IMPACT ON MICHIGAN CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATIONS!

podcast-microphone

On May 27, 2016, Gene Sullivan, host of the “Where You Live” radio program broadcast in Minneapolis on AM 1280 (“The Patriot”), interviewed our very own Paul C. Schultz regarding   Michigan House Bill 5655 and the serious adverse impact that this proposed change to the Condominium Act could have on all Michigan condominium associations and their ability to collect assessments.

You can listen to the podcast of Mr. Schultz’s interview at the link below:

https://soundcloud.com/where-you-live/5-28-16a#t=34m10s

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WATER LOSSES, CO-OWNER NEGLIGENCE, AND THE SHIFTING OF ASSOCIATION INSURANCE DEDUCTIBLES

WATER LOSSESBy: Gregory J. Fioritto

gfioritto@zdfattorneys.com

A classic “right of spring” for attorneys at our firm every year is handling the resolution of water loss disputes for Associations.  Most often, these situations arise from a non-resident co-owner’s or foreclosing lender’s failure to properly winterize a vacant unit (though these problems certainly can and do occur in occupied units as well).

If the negligent action of the owner was the cause of the loss (e.g., frozen/burst pipes caused by the owner’s failure to keep heat on in the unit during winter), the Board’s instinctual reaction is almost always to deny (or to attempt to deny) any responsibility on the part of the Association (or its insurer) for the loss.  After all, why should the Association be responsible for a loss if it was caused by co-owner “fault?” Continue reading

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EXPERIENCED COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION ATTORNEY RICHARD L. WAGNER, JR. JOINS THE ZDF TEAM!

We are most pleased to announce that veteran community association attorney Richard L. Wagner, Jr., former principal owner of Schlottman & Wagner, PC, will be joining our firm as an associate attorney effective June 1, 2016.

Our firm is dedicated to providing the highest level of quality in legal services to community associations.  Mr. Wagner honorably served and represented hundreds of Michigan community associations over several decades through his former firm, Schlottman & Wagner, PC. Continue reading

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