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Category Archives: Tennessee

When the Condominium Board Demands Your Facebook Page

There are many owners in condominiums and HOAs that, for one reason or another, have started Facebook pages for their community. I am all for supporting owners that want better communication with their neighbours – and it doesn’t matter in what venue: monthly klatches, book groups, or social websites.

What does get my hackles up is the boards of these condominiums or HOAs threatening, or taking, legal action to shut down these social media groups or sue for control of the social media.

The Maplewood Homeowner’s Association, Nashville Tennessee, has issued a letter to Susan Rowe that her failure to remove the name of the subdivision (Maplewood) from her 2 year old Facebook page would cause the association to sue her. The intent of the letter is not only to have her change the name of the site, but to turn the Facebook group over to the board.

Her Facebook group – “Residents of Maplewood” (changed from “Maplewood Subdivision”) is a private, invite only, group which posts about lost cats and neighbour requests to borrow lawn equipment. This isn’t even a case of “we hate our association postings”.

The use of Facebook for neighbors to communicate without authorization from the board is something that is legal, justified, and fully supportable. As well, identifying the group as related to a particular local or building – but indicating that it’s not the “official site” is also well and good. There can be no limitation on a group of activist residents using the name of the association within the group title. Otherwise it’s a lot like saying the Nashville Singers couldn’t use the word Nashville in their name. Just plain silly.

HOAs don’t have a right to control owner conversation – and really that’s the crux of most of these conflicts. It’s overbearing, control-freak, boards that see any ability for owners to organize as a threat to their position. To them I say good luck with that. Spend your time on building community – not destroying other people’s successful endeavours

PS. If the association wants is the word Maplewood removed – maybe the association should first go after all those other associations that show up on a Google search for Maplewood. It’s all so confusing as to which one is the real Maplewood, when they all stand up shouting “No, I’m Maplewood!

When Investors Abandon Units Owners Suffer Greatly

Ten weeks ago, Bank of Canada Governor Pat Carney warned that housing prices are now 4.5 times average household disposable income, or 30% higher than the 3.5 average of the last quarter century (In Vancouver they are 9.6). Further, he indicated that this is being driven by greed among speculators and investors. In Toronto, 60% of construction sales are by investors.

If the market value of condominiums comes down and as such triggers lower rental rates, investors will abandon under-water mortgages and incomes that don’t meet their bills. It’s hard to see this in the active market we have now, but all overly inflated values must mute, or drop, in value at some time.

Legislation in many regions of North America fail to do a very good job protecting owners in multi-residential dwellings when other owners stop paying their condominium fees, triggering a foreclosure on the deliquent units in order to recover the owed money to the corporation. For palces with poor legislation, when a unit is foreclosed on, the proceeds of the sale first go to the mortgagee, and not the condominium. The causes a chain of events that only further depress the value of the units, and jeopardize a large number of other owner’s homes.

For West Meade Condominium complex in West Nashville Tennessee, the chain of events has happened – 57 investor owned units in a 112 unit complex stopped paying their contributions, leaving the condominium $355,000 short on budget and repairs. Because there isn’t the money for maintenance, the building (and the value of all the units) is suffering. Because of decreased property value, the 57 units which have been court ordered to sell will likely garner less than the mortgage values. This leaves 55 upstanding owners in the hole for that sum on top of their own commitments to the corporation.

West Meade Condominium, without the owed amount, will be unable to meet ongoing insurance and utility bills, forcing the condominium into bankruptcy. Imagine as an upstanding owner having to move out of your home because of another owner’s fiscal imprudence.

In better jurisdictions, the condominium has first standing to collect fees owned. That means before the banks, and even before back taxes, the condominium gets paid out of the proceeds first. This is a fantastic situation. By giving the corporation first standing in a foreclosure (and also creating generous legislation allowing condominiums to bring their units to foreclosure on non-payment of contributions), the government protects the other owners from fiscal ruin, from non-maintained buildings, and from spiraling downward housing prices.

Good legislation for condominiums is important – especially given the fact that some owners can cause unchecked misfortune to others due to the nature of shared housing. With housing being a primary equity and destination of most people’s productive lives, housing requires more thorough consumer protections.

Banks are a form of commercialized savings. Housing is a form of self-directed savings which has significantly more public equity than all the banks combined. We’re willing to create massive legislation to protect bank based savings, we need the same friendly legislation for the most common and accessible public form of savings as well – people’s houses.

You Can Be Patriotic – Just Without the Flag

Condominiums have both upsides and downsides. In a previous post I’ve indicated my dislike of sections of my bylaws. They are draconian. None the less, they are norms that I am required to meet, and I was aware of them before buying into the condominium because I was given the bylaws for review.

In Tennessee Dawn Kamin is flying a flag in disregard of her condominium bylaws.

Fox News seems to be making hay with this issue because it’s an American flag (Fox loves the American flag). I would be quite interested to see Fox News response to this story if the flag was a foreign nationality, the white flag of surrender, the United Nations flag, or a multi-coloured rainbow. I don’t think there would be quite a show in the news about poor, downtrodden, owners being subjugated by their condominium.

There is really one way for this to be solved in the owner’s favour – to convince her fellow owners to update the bylaws and include the right to fly the national flag. Otherwise Dawn, patriotic none the less, is out of bounds.

It doesn’t matter the nature of the flag, just that the flag isn’t allowed under the condominium bylaws. Love it or leave it – living in a condominium adds a whole additional layer of rules and regulations to how you live your life. In most cases, the rules will work fine with your life and style. If you really are focused on absolute individual freedoms then condominium living may not be for you.