Update On Pending Condo Legislation In The General Assembly

 The Judiciary Committee voted the following four condominium-related bills out of committee last month.georgecoppolo

They await action by the full House and Senate.

Senate Bill 1103 makes it easier for boards to borrow money secured by the Association’s right to future income (common charges) by making the loan effective unless at least a majority of unit owners vote to reject it.

Substitute Senate Bill 1145 1) makes boards responsible for making sure association managers comply with condominium law and the association’s bylaws, 2) requires boards to give unit owners at least 5 days notice of the time, date, place and agenda for board meetings even if the board has made available a schedule of board meetings including the dates, times, and locations; 3) prohibits Associations that provide proxy voting forms to unit owners from including the name of the proxy holder unless the unit owner asks the Association to do so; 4) specifies that Associations must maintain records relating to reserve accounts; 5) requires unit owner’s insurance policies to provide primary coverage for losses also covered by the Association’s policy; and 6) provides immunity from criminal liability for board members and officers for any conduct that is within the scope of their authority.

House Bill 6513 makes it easier for unit owners to disapprove a proposed budget or special assessment by eliminating the requirement that at least a majority of all unit owners must vote to reject the proposal in order for the proposal to be disapproved, and by instead allowing a budget or special assessment to be disapproved by a majority of those voting on the issue as long as at least one third of all those eligible voted.

Substitute House Bill 6662 gives condominium and other common interest associations a priority lien on each unit over previously recorded first and second mortgages in an amount equal to 9 months instead of 6 months of common charges on that unit. The bill specifies that this priority lien does not include any late fees, interest, or fines that the association assesses during that 9-month period. Also, the bill requires Associations to give first and second mortgage holders at least 60 days prior written notice before beginning a foreclosure action against a unit.

The Judiciary Committee did not take action on two other condominium related bills that were before it. House Bill 6666 authorizes the creation of a pilot program, within available appropriations, for the non-binding mediation of a dispute between one or more unit owners and an association. Senate Bill 1101 allows unit owners to place a security camera on the outside of the unit under certain circumstances. At this point it is not clear if any of these bills will be enacted by the full House and Senate and if so weather they will be amended.

 Following is a more detailed summary of each of these bills with comments.

SB 1103, AN ACT CONCERNING THE APPROVAL PROCESS FOR ASSIGNMENTS OF FUTURE INCOME IN COMMON INTEREST COMMUNITIES (Effective Date: July 1, 2013)

Under current law, a board cannot borrow money using the associations right to future income (common charges) as security unless at least a majority of unit owners vote to approve the loan.  This bill instead authorizes boards to enter into such loan agreements unless at least a majority of unit owners vote against it. By doing so it puts the burden on unit owners who oppose the loan to get a majority of unit owners to vote against it, instead of putting the burden on the board to convince at least a majority of unit owners to vote to approve the loan.

Current law requires the board, at least 14 days before entering into any loan agreement, to disclose in a record to all unit owners the loan amount and terms and the estimated effect on common expense assessments and provides unit owners a reasonable opportunity to submit comments to the board. The bill requires the voting by unit owners on the acceptance or rejection of the assignment to occur at a meeting of unit owners that is held at least 10 but no more than 60 days after the board has complied with its duty to notify the unit owners and give them a reasonable opportunity to submit comments. The absence of a quorum at such meeting does not affect the approval or disapproval of an assignment.

SUBSTITURE SB 1145, AN ACT CONCERNING REVISIONS TO THE COMMON INTEREST OWNERSHIP ACT AND THE CONDOMINIUM ACT (Effective Date: October 1, 2013)

 Duty of Association Managers to Comply with the Association By-laws and with Condominium Laws (Section 1)

 The bill requires an association’s board of directors to make sure that their manager any community association manager fully complies with the association’s bylaws, as well as the provisions of the Common Interest Ownership Act and the Condominium Act.

Comment: This should not be the responsibility of the association or the board. This should either be removed from the bill or amended to make managers responsible for their own compliance.

Notice of Board or Committee Meetings (Section 2)

Under current law, unless a committee or board meeting is included in a schedule given to the unit owners, or a meeting is called to deal with an emergency, each unit owner must at least five days before the meeting of the time, date, place and agenda of the meeting, The bill requires that this notice be given even if the meeting is included in a schedule given to unit owners. Current law, unchanged by this bill requires a longer notice period for certain issues.

Proxy Voting (Section 3)

The bill specifies that any voting proxy provided by an association to a unit owner may not include the name of the proxy holder, unless the unit owner requests that the name of the proxy holder be included on the proxy.

Records of Reserve Accounts (Section 4)

Current law requires an association shall retain certain information including detailed records of receipts and expenditures affecting the operation and administration of the association and other appropriate accounting records. The bill specifies that these records must include records relating to reserve accounts.

Comment: This provision is a step in the right direction but much more can and should be done. For example, the law should explicitly require boards to have separate accounts and keep separate records for each special assessment indicating all receipts and all expenditures, and this should be periodically reported to unit owners.

Insurance (Section 5)

The bill eliminates the requirement the association’s policy provides primary insurance if, a unit owner has insurance covering the same risk. (Effective October 1, 2013)

Comment: This provision needs more study. This shift in responsibility from the association’s policy to the unit owner’s policy might result in a higher insurance premiums for unit owners as well as uncertainty and confusion when it comes to distributing insurance proceeds for necessary repairs.

Immunity from Criminal Liability (Sections 6 and 7)

The bill relieves any Association officer or board member from criminal liability for any conduct performed on behalf of the association, provided the conduct is within the scope of the board member’s or officer’s authority.

Comment:  As presently drafted, this immunity from criminal liability seems too broad. While courts might narrowly construe this language, that is not certain. For example, what if the association gives a board member or officer the authority to engage in illegal conduct? How can an association immunize someone from knowingly violating a criminal law?

HB 6513, AN ACT CONCERNING THE BUDGET AND SPECIAL ASSESSMENT APPROVAL PROCESS IN COMMON INTEREST COMMUNITIES (Effective Date: October 1, 2013)

By law the executive board must seek approval by unit owners for a proposed budget. The board must also seek approval by unit owners for a proposed special assessment unless 1) the special assessment is necessary to respond to an emergency or 2) the special assessment, together with all other special and emergency assessments the executive board proposed during the same calendar year, do not exceed 15% of the association’s last adopted periodic budget for that calendar year.

Under current law, proposed annual budgets and special assessments are deemed approved unless a majority of all unit owners, or a larger number specified in the association’s declaration, votes to reject them. 
The bill instead provides that a proposed budget or assessment is rejected only if (1) a majority of all unit owners participating in the vote, instead of a majority of all unit owners, vote to reject it, and (2) at least one-third of unit owners entitled to vote on the measure vote to reject it. (Emphasis added.)

By law, the absence of a quorum in the vote does not affect the approval or rejection of the budget or assessment, and the last approved budget continues to apply until a new budget is approved.

Substitute HB 6662, AN ACT CONCERNING THE RECOUPMENT OF MONEYS OWED TO A UNIT OWNERS’ ASSOCIATION DUE TO NONPAYMENT OF ASSESSMENTS (Effective Date: October 1, 2013)

Priority Lien

This bill gives condominium and other common interest associations a priority lien on each unit over previously recorded first and second mortgages in an amount equal to 9 months instead of 6 months of common charges on that unit. The bill specifies that this priority lien does not include any late fees, interest or fines that the association assesses during that 9-month period. Under current law the priority lien also includes the association’s costs and attorney’s fees in enforcing the lien. The bill specifies that the priority lien only include the association’s reasonable attorney’s fees.

The bill also specifies that this 9-month priority lien applies even if there is any provision in the declaration or bylaws to the contrary.

Comment: As presently drafted it is not clear whether this provision applies to foreclosures that were commenced before October 1, 2013.

Required Written Notice to Lenders

The bill requires associations give first and second mortgage holders at least 60 days prior written notice before commencing a foreclosure action against a unit.

The written notice must specify:

  1. the amount of unpaid common expense assessments owed to the association as of the date of the notice;
  2. the amount of any attorney’s fees and costs incurred by the association in the enforcement of its lien as of the date of the notice; and
  3.  a statement of the association’s intention to foreclose its lien if the amount owed is not paid to the association within 60 days of the date on which the notice is mailed.

The bill authorizes the association to rely on the last-recorded mortgage in delivering or mailing notice to the mortgage holder, unless the holder is the plaintiff in an action pending in the Superior Court to enforce that mortgage, in which case the association must send the written notice to the attorney appearing on the mortgage holder’s behalf.

Under the bill, the failure of the association to provide the written notice before commencing an action to foreclose its lien will not affect the priority of its lien for an amount equal to nine months common expense but the priority would no longer include any costs or attorney’s fees if the notice were not given.

BILLS NOT VOTED OUT OF COMMITTEE

The Judiciary Committee did not vote on either of the following two condominium-related bills. These bills are dead for the session unless they are added as an amendment to one of the four bills that were voted out of committee or to some other condominium-related legislation.

HB 6666, AN ACT ESTABLISHING TWO PILOT PROGRAMS FOR THE MEDIATION OF CONDOMINIUM-RELATED DISPUTES AND RELIEVING A COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGER OF ANY RESPONSIBILITY FOR CERTIFYING THAT A CONDOMINIUM UNIT OWNER IS COMPLIANT WITH A MUNICIPAL ORDINANCE REQUIRING THE INSTALLATION OF CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS AND SMOKE DETECTORS (Effective Date: October 1, 2013)

The bill authorizes the Probate Court Administrator and the Chief Court Administrator, within available appropriations, to establish a pilot program for the non-binding mediation of a dispute between one or more unit owners and an association. The pilot program would be administered in two administrative regions as determined by the Probate Court Administrator and in one Judicial District where a housing session had already been established.

The bill also would relieve community association managers from any duty to provide to a local fire chief or local fire marshal a written verification on behalf of a unit owner, certifying the unit owner’s compliance with a municipal ordinance requiring the installation of smoke and carbon monoxide detection and warning equipment in the unit owner’s private dwelling.

Comment: The pilot program portion of the bill would have been a first step toward a very needed reform. Unit owners need an equitable, quick, and less expensive way to try to resolve disputes. Based on the oral and written testimony concerning this proposal it seems to have a great deal of support. If you support the idea of a pilot program, contact your state senator and representative and also talk to other unit owners and ask them to do the same. I believe there is a chance to have this provision adopted this year.

SB 1101, AN ACT PERMITTING THE AFFIXING OF SECURITY CAMERAS TO UNITS WITHIN A COMMON INTEREST COMMUNITY (Effective Date: October 1, 2013)

This bill allows the unit owner of a common interest community to affix a security camera to the exterior of his or her unit but authorizes associations to adopt rules governing the size of, number of, and manner of affixing or removing security cameras.

Hartford Atty George Coppolo is a member of the Connecticut Condo Owners Coalition (CCOC) Advisory Committee.

This article is for general informational purposes only, does not constitute and should not be relied upon as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author or the author’s law firm (Gordon, Muir and Foley, LLP 860-525-5361) and any party.  Statutes and case law vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and may change from time to time.  You should consult a licensed attorney for legal advice relating to your specific situation.

(Attorney Pat Ayers, who is a legal adviser to CCOC made many valuable contributions to this update and I very much appreciate her assistance.)

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9 Responses to Update On Pending Condo Legislation In The General Assembly

  1. RHL says:

    There still are no laws protecting unit owners from controlling BOARD MEMBERS who are trying to manage an association without really understanding or knowing all the laws, how they work, and making things up as they go about their business. Some lie, get out of things they have done to others, do not tell the unit owners what ” several misc.expenses are on the budget handed out. it’s a disgrace with such dishonesty. If everyone is so honest why isn’t every expense itemized for all to see? And why are “gifts” and ” gift certificates” being given to new owners,the sick, and board members leaving out of our condo fees given? Ridiculous! ….They do as they please with this money with no input from unit owners. You don’t buy gifts for people out of the association money. Did they ever hear of taking a collection on who wants to give? This should be an offense by the board members using Association monies for ” non association expenses.” These board members are all friends and do as they please with OUR MONEY. you say something, or even try to get on the board or a committee …forget it….only friends can belong and they make sure of that by giving gifts to new people that purchase, or are sick so they don’t complain.
    This whole condo board control has got to stop with these board members!! Everyone is to afraid of being an outcast and signing a petition but all it’s all about control with most ….not about leadership and good will with all unit owners and doing the best for the association and it’s owners.
    LAWS stating voting on everything the board does with 100% approval or they can’t do it. If you are a good, honest board, no one will disagree with what you feel is best. When a board is deceitful, hurtful to unit owners, have no class or tact with speaking to others, and secretly has meetings with their friends only and leaves one board member out of the loop because they are the honest one, where is the justice for us unit owners?
    We complain at meetings with respect it doesn’t do any good….. You can talk until you are blue and the same stupid comment: “we will take it into consideration” which is the oldest tactic in business meetings!
    LAWS TO PROTECT UNIT OWNERS from abusing unit owners because they feel control to do so. How sad isn’t it? Someday there will be a big suit and will be won if they keep making up their own rules and regulations and not follow the state mandated laws!
    Fixing of any roads is to come out of the capital fund…….but this board doesn’t think that. $150,000 in the bank and they go up in the condo fees now why is that? WE lay for our own roofs, driveways, clean our own gutters, power wash our own homes, we only get garbage ,lawn and winter plowing. They put our money in the stock market 80% until we complained at meetings and gave them statistics of the stock markets possible crashes, but still have a good chunk in there. Who does this? And if we loose that monies in stocks who replaces it? NOT US…without a law suit for being negligent for putting it there in the first place. Too many controlling boards we heard from say they are getting kick backs from the places they do business with stocks. Just hearsay but wouldn’t doubt it.
    you mention to take it out and they freak out….with more excuses. We lost alot but they fudged the numbers and didn’t give the unit owners the correct numbers or none at all. just left that out of the paperwork we received.
    People need to really think about purchasing a condo in their elder years. it is NOT easy, nor fun when you get a miserable board who do as they please to suit themselves, not the whole community. If I were on that board, everyone would feel included in every decision, be open and completely honest and friendly to everyone. even the worst neighbor you can find kindness to and change them. it is all in good attitude towards ” EVERYONE” not just your friends. This board keeps having the same group of friends on it, and it never changes, no matter how many others want to run for it, they make sure that never happens. Like I said…laws for the unit owners to protect them from being excluded. Meetings are a joke, they don’t tell anyone unless it’s a monthly one, finance meetings no one is old or allowed to go and many want to. thank you

    • Richard Morin says:

      God, I could not say it any better. This person just said everything I wanted to. I don’t care how many House Bills & Statutes the State makes up. It doesn’t do the unit owner of an association any good. The current law is so unfair to unit owners. The unit owner must hire at their own expense, a lawyer to enforce any rules they feel the Board is doing wrong or any other action. Boards don’t care, because they know this & they can use association funds to defend themselves. So, in short saying. Unit owner funds are used to defend lawsuits brought by unit owners themselves. A unit owner can’t win unless they go to civil court & file a suit. Last year our Board had our association lawyer send me a letter (which cost $708)charging me with harassment & threaten me with criminal charges. I replied to the letter & since last July. Haven’t had any respond to my letter. I sent my letter my certified mail to the lawyer & our board President. At a Board meeting two months ago. The Board President sat there & said to me they didn’t recall receiving my letter. On top of that, they didn’t recall signing the receipt after it was showed to them. They tried to scared me & it didn’t work. Unless I hired a lawyer to file a suit. I can’t do a thing about what this Board did to me. There is no state agency to bring your problems to. I wrote the Attorney General & they said the following. “I am sympathetic to the problems at your condominium, and regret that our office is barred by state law from enforcing condominium or cooperative laws.”So, keep writing all the procedures, requirements, bylaws & statues you want for the operation of condominiums. They don’t do a unit owner any good & Board of Directors don’t go by them. Thank you.

  2. Mia says:

    I hate when they say there are new condo laws out it sickens me. The laws are to protect the association The Board members who do more injustice than any of the owners!!!! They are regular people who make the power go to their head. They need to make laws protecting the owners and all the board members should have to take a course and qualify with the state or city to be on the Board and they should definitely be accountable for any wrong doing. Now they say it was a mistake well why isn’t a mistake for a unit owner when they do something wrong. It infuriates me how corrupt condo laws who the hell in congress is representing the condo owners!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Concerned Condo Owner says:

    I agree with the other unit owners above.

    What we need iS

  4. Concerned Condo Owner says:

    I agree with the other condo owners above. A significant number of condo boards are corrupt, abusive and do not listen or include unit owners in decision-making. In my association there are no open committees, and no notice of committee meetings. The association is run more like a dictatorship than a democracy.

    The lack of enforcement of Connecticut condo laws is a major problem. Why hasn’t the current CCOC leadership supported the desire of many unit owners who seek enforcement of condo laws? While this forum is helpful, CCOC needs to do much more to advocate for unit owners like it did when it was originally founded. Current CCOC leaders have taken a different path and have taken a less active role in advocating for unit owners. This should change.

    Rep. James Albis proposed a condo bill establishing a pilot program involving mediation in probate court or small claims court where unit owners would have a more affordable option to address unresolved issues with their condo boards. Where was the CCOC leadership actively promoting to its members over and over again to get this bill passed? I feel CCOC leaders failed us unit owners.

    I urge current CCOC leaders to establish a New Leadership Search Committee chartered to new leaders for this organization to reinvigorate its mission to better protect the rights of Connecticut condo owners, not associations, boards, attorneys, and others involved in the condo industry, and to aim for the establish of condo law enforcement.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with establishing a new Chair. Gail Eagan is too fearful of being sued; so it impedes her ability to fully advocate for unit owners. She also comes from the shoes of a Board Member of an estimated 20 year, I believe. Correct me if I am wrong Gail. And, it appears she is top heavy (a partner) with the Community Association Institute (CAI), our biggest opposition for unit owners. There has been no feeling of participation, from Gail Eagan, of a full force of advocacy for unit owners; just surface work to cover her —-. And, George, please do not delete this as you have in the past from me. Is it because it hurts to hear the truth? And, cannot face the public?

  5. WTF says:

    Bill 1145 is useless for us. Our bylaws require 10 days notice and we like it that way.

    Bill 1103 allowing easier borrowing of money is a TERRIBLE idea.

    Bill 1145 can say at a glance that Board members SHOULD be held responsible.

    These are terrible bills!

    Bill 6513 is the only one of any benefit.

  6. Catherine says:

    Being a Board Member in a condo is a very difficult and thankless job. Unfortunately condo owners are not involved enough with Board Meetings where they can find out the good and the bad problems. The Meadows of Branford has had some very difficult times and horrible experiences with Board members and Management Companies. We have, at this time a super Board who know how to mind the complex. It helps if everyone considers their neighbors & Board Members as family. WOKK TOGETHER & STAY TOGETHER.

    • PLEEZE says:

      R u kidding . When u have a crooked board member and agent it is difficult to be part of their family.
      People,owners have gone to these meetings. I have witnessed this for over 20 yrs how they “that is” the board and managing agent emotionally bully and attack your views. See the rules are not mean’t for them. They can harass and penalize you without proof. I consider them just as criminal as the people on the news. The way they operate by pinning one neighbor against another. I agree with the 1st person. The management in oakwood condos is the worst. , and yet no one can touch these people. The amazing is they bother the honest educated people.
      This is what happens when I write about the so called association at oakwood my heart races and i cant makes sense. Stay away from Margolis realty. The board can have there own home business, people can sell drugs , yet if the board does not want a tag sale thats it it the law. Imagine paying a mortage and being penalized for sitting on the front stairs for air.

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