Thursday, July 17, 2003

Does Anybody Remember Frances T.?
Regarding the previous post, one more thing: Hello, Mr. President of Sunrise Villas Homeowners Association, and members of the Board of Directors. I have some light summer reading to suggest for you. It's an opinion from the California Supreme Court in the case of
Frances T. v. Village Green Owners Association, 42 Cal. 3d 490 (1986). It's all about how the association and the individual directors can be held liable for injuries to a unit owner after making her take down the lights she put up to keep crooks away. She did as the board ordered and that very night was raped and robbed. And then she sued.

Oh, sure, you are in Nevada, not California, but as far as I know there is still tort law in Nevada, so if I were you I'd read the opinion in Frances T. before making this owner take down her shutters. And if you do make her take them down, maybe the board members should take turns keeping watch outside her unit 24 hours a day. It might save you some money.

When Will They Ever Learn Dept., Installment No. 2653...

Woman vows to keep her security shutters
Homeowners association says 70-year-old has to play by rules

By Jen Lawson

After burglars ravaged Mae Roy's southeast Las Vegas home several years ago, she saved up her money to get security shutters installed over her back sliding glass door.

But her homeowners association is insisting that Roy remove the shutters immediately, despite a new law making it illegal for associations to keep residents from installing the shutters.

The impasse has resulted in controversy at Sunrise Villas IV, a quiet, 62-unit community near Desert Inn Road and the Pecos-McLeod Interconnect.

"I will not take them down until they take me with them," the 70-year-old Roy vowed.

Lacey Casagrande, president of the homeowners association, said: "We certainly don't want her not to feel safe. ... (But) these are the rules and if you don't abide by them, there are consequences."

Read the whole thing and you'll see I'm not making this up. Thanks to Monica Caruso for passing this story along.

Link to full story.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

At my condo law class last night I had a wonderful guest speaker, attorney Herbert Fisher of Chicago, who knows more about the law of housing cooperatives than just about anybody. It's natural to compare co-ops with condos. Why are there so many condos and so few co-ops, while at the same time there is so much conflict in condos and substantially less (from what I can see) in co-ops?

There is no one explanation, of course, but I think in a general sense the relative lack of conflict in co-ops and their small share of the housing market are probably explained by the same things: actual choice and real consent. The key reason for all the turmoil in CIDs is the fact that people are drawn by marketing and lack of alternatives into a form of shared ownership that many of them don't understand or like much, without ever really agreeing to live by the rules and accepting a reduced sense of dominion over their property.

If that is true, it suggests that if people had to actually ask to live in the CID and be interviewed by the BOD to get their approval, and had to actually mouth words of understanding and assent, there would be both less conflict and a lot fewer people living in CIDs. The ones who believe their home is their castle would get so angry during the interview ("Who do you people think you are, asking me all these questions?") that they'd either be rejected by the board or they'd qive everybody the finger, stomp out of the room, and cancel the sale. Probable net result: less conflict in condos, but a much smaller market share for condos. You could extend this logic to CID housing in general, including all the townhouse and HOA developments.

Does this mean that the law should give CID boards the power to interview and reject owners? It's not that simple, because there are many other differences between CIDs and co-ops. For example, in CIDs you have individual owners with individual mortgages, and they need to be relatively free to sell them. But it is an interesting thought experiment to engage in if you are trying to figure out why there is so much litigation coming out of CIDS.