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CONDO Q & A

SBA Extends Deadline for Quake Victims

August 21, 1994|JAN HICKENBOTTOM | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; She is a past president of the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Community Associations Institute (CAI), a national nonprofit research and educational organization.

QUESTION: Our condominium association is still struggling with earthquake recovery. There are three different groups who cannot agree on the course of action and our board of directors has become totally ineffective. I am feeling frustrated, angry and powerless.

I have learned that the person who volunteered to file the loan application with the Small Business Administration (SBA) did not complete the paper work and now refuses to do it because we missed the filing deadline.

We are not convinced that the SBA could help us even if we had completed our application. We know of other associations in our area that still have not received approval for their loans.

Our association did not have earthquake insurance. If we can't get funding from SBA, I don't know how our association is going to function. Can we appeal to the SBA to accept a late application if our association can get its act together?

ANSWER: I have good news for you and other people who have been dragging their feet. The SBA has once again extended the loan application deadline to Oct. 17. Rebecca Cooksey heads the SBA Outreach Department and she would be glad to assist your association. Her phone number is (818) 556-1554.

"We know that there are still a lot of community associations that have been unable to deal with the decisions they need to make," Cooksey said.

"The SBA is doing everything that we can to reach those associations and assist them by coming out to the associations and meeting with the board members and homeowners. Right now, we are meeting with about three associations every day."

The SBA is already helping some 1,800 community associations at the present time. For those other associations that want to check on the status of their loan applications, the SBA number to call is (800) 488-5323.

If your association was dysfunctional before the quake, the crisis has magnified the problem. You are not the only association member who is frustrated and angry. Try to maintain hope and work to heal the divisive attitudes within your association so that you can start progressing toward the goal of making your association whole again. Please write to me again in a few weeks to let me know how your association is doing.

Must Owner Pay for Quest's Damages

Q: I live in a planned unit development (PUD), which consists of 74 separate individual homes and a gated private road with retaining walls and tennis courts in the common area.

A visitor to my home accidentally backed into the retaining wall causing a small amount of damage. I informed my friend and the homeowner association so that they could resolve the problem. In the meantime, the association sent me a bill for the wall repair.

The association says that when I granted my friend's entrance to the complex, I became responsible for all of that person's actions. I refused to pay the bill because I refuse to acknowledge complete liability for my guest's behavior.

Do I have any legal basis for my position?

A: I'm sorry to disappoint you, but if you read your association's governing documents you will probably find that a member of the association is responsible for the actions of himself or herself, as well as family members, guests, repair workers or any other person that you invite or allow into the complex.

The association has the right and the authority to hold you responsible for the payment of damages. You are obligated to pay the bill, whether your friend reimburses you or not. I advise you to pay up or you will soon have late charges and attorney's fees added to your unpaid balance.

You may want to investigate obtaining liability insurance now that you are aware of your responsibility for your guests.

Are Special Rules Only for Children Legal?

Q: Our community association has some rules that apply to children under the age of 15. For instance, there are specific hours set aside when children can use the pool. We have occasionally been challenged as to the legality of these restrictions.

What is your opinion of age restrictions?

A: Your association should eliminate age restrictions other than those found in the local health and safety codes. Most attorneys who counsel community associations are making sure that their association clients are aware of the federal Fair Housing Amendments Act, which prohibits age discrimination in housing. Many parents feel that their children have the right to full enjoyment of the use of the association amenities, regardless of their age.

I recommend that associations restrict unwanted behavior rather than restricting children. For example, if you don't want noise or toys in and around the pool area, then restrict the noise and toys but don't make rules that are age-specific. A rule that states, "Running in the pool area is prohibited" is better than "Children are not allowed to run in the pool area." Obviously, to prevent injury, no one should run in the pool area regardless of their age, so eliminate the reference to children.

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