Sunday, September 30, 2007

Coming to a Library Near You...

In the next several weeks, the main branch of the Salt Lake City Library will be receving a collection of CAI publications, courtesy of Hobbs & Olson, L.C.

The books were purchased by the firm through the CAI Research Foundation's Adopt-a-Library program, through which participating libraries can receive an extensive collection of community association materials through a contribution from the sponsor.

Hobbs & Olson is also seeking to obtain a collection of books for the Summit County libary system. Keep watching this site for updates on that effort.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Beware of (Service) Dogs

Once again, I've had a unit owner approach an association board with an assertion that his otherwise prohibited dog is a "companion animal", and thus must be allowed to reside in the association, with its owner, despite the association's prohibition against dogs.

This request has a new twist, however; the dog is a "registered sevice dog", and has a certificate -- suitable for framing -- to show it.

The certificate was obtained from, a site that provides, upon payment of $51.45, "downloadable forms" that can be completed and returned for a certificate. I don't know what the forms require, because I wasn't willing to pay the money, but the existence of the site reaffirms my suspicion that "service animals" are becoming more popular, and associations need to be aware of their rights on this issue.

The site, like many similar sites, sets forth a summary of rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The owner in question, like many owners, assumes that these ADA rights apply to them. The owner is wrong. Those rights may allow him to take his companion dog to breakfast at Denny's, but they don't have any application to his breakfasts at home.

Unit owners and occupants do have certain rights respecting "service animals", but the rights of owners and tenants arise from the Fair Housing Act, and those rights differ from the rights under the ADA. Because this issue arises more and more often, I thought it would be helpful to provide a short summary on the topic.

The case law in this area is still developing, but it appears as though the courts will uphold an association's right, in the case of service animals (and particularly in the subclass of "companion animals"), to determine (1) the legitimacy and general nature of the disability, and (2) the animal's ability to assist with the disability.

I recently prepared a policy for a local association; this policy was adopted in tandem with their general policy regarding animals. The policy, which should be considered as an example only, is available

And They Won't Rent to Courtney Love, Either

"Refusing to rent to somebody, because they have tattoos may be unfair, but it's not necessarily discrimination under the Fair Housing Act, unless the tattoos are specific to the person's religion or national origin," said Sandy Tamez of the San Antonio Fair Housing Council.

At least that's the attitude in San Antonio, Texas, where an apartment complex called The Villas, precludes those with excessive body tattoos, and, apparently, too many piercings as well. Edward Frankel, one of the co-owners of The Villas and other apartment complexes, states that this rule also goes for people with "tattoos exposed on the neck, hands and wrists..." and also applies to people who have their eyebrow and/or tongue pierced, more than two nose rings or more than five earrings.

While perhaps not technically illegal, this is one of those practices which, at least in this author's opinion, might not be worth the risk of a lawsuit or bad national publicity. I also can see a disparate impact claim arising, because this probably could be shown to result in discrimination against the young, and military veterans.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

From a Reader...

It came without a copyright. This is for educational purposes.

If there's a copyright violation, it's not my fault.

And Now for Something Completely Different...

A blog that I stumbled upon this morning was reflecting upon the woes of poor Google; it seems that everyone wants to sue them. The case of note was a case recently filed in Pennsylvania, by and individual who has realized that "when [his] social security number is turned upside down in its entierty (sic) it is a scrambled code that does spell the name Google."

The complaint, which is available (along with all of its related pleadings) in the court's file, is a hilarious read. Apparently, Google has caused significant damage to Mr. Jayne; he wants damages of $500,000,000.00, which he seeks in the form of a "first check of $250,000.00 and a second check in the amount that remains."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Coming to a Kiosk Near You

I just received an interesting press release from Athomenet, a national provider of website and related services for community associations.

The press release announces a YouTube hyperlink; the video shows a new Kiosk in a swanky Georgia community; residents of the community can reserve their tennis courts through a kiosk. The video is worth checking out; the press release is available here.

Monday, September 24, 2007

NIMBY in Holladay

It appears that certain residents of Holladay Utah are concerned that the renovation of the Cottonwood Mall will cause some disruption, and perhaps the loss of a buffer zone that they have had from the mall.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that neighbors of the mixed-use development, planned for the 68 acres which currently contain the Cottonwood Mall, are afraid they will lose a historical buffer zone. Both sides purport to be working towards a deal, but it looks like this might just turn into a nasty legal dispute.

The article can be found here.

Friday, September 14, 2007

An Hour of Free (and Exciting) (?) Video

Many years ago, I presented a one hour course for the Utah State Bar Annual Meeting. The session, entitled "Community Association Law: What You Don't Know May Hurt You", was videotaped by the Utah State Bar, and is available for online continuing legal education.

Lawyers who want to watch this and get CLE credit have to pay, but you can watch it here for free. The material is a bit dated, and I was quite a bit younger than, but not much has changed other than my time in a 10K.

As always, you cannot rely on the information contained in this video, and you are reminded to seek competent legal advice for your own legal questions.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Win an Ipod Nano!

As announced previously, the Utah Chapter of the Community Associations Institute is having a trade show at the end of the month.

One reason to attend, of course, is the high caliber of speakers and presenters at the show; another, and maybe even better reason, is the possibility of winning a new generation Ipod Nano with video.

Hobbs & Olson and will be providing a brand new, engraved Ipod Nano, which will be pre-loaded with the "What You Don't Know Might Hurt You" video. And, if and when we begin our podcasting from this blog, you'll have a place to save those podcasts.

Music on your Nano? You won't want to waste it on music!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Family Values

I just had an inquiry, which I repeatedly get, regarding whether or not (and how) an association can limit the number of residents in a unit. My response, as usual, was qualified: it depends on where you are, and how much risk (of litigation) you can bear.

The Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based upon "familial status"; "familial status" is defined as:

"one or more individuals (who have not attained the age of 18 years) being domiciled with--
(1) a parent or another person having legal custody of such individual or individuals; or
(2) the designee of such parent or other person having such custody, with the written permission of such parent or other person."

With this definition in mind, I think that it's risky, at best, to try to restrict the number of blood-related individuals residing in a unit. I do think, however, that associations can safely adopt definitions from their municipalities, and restrict occupancy based on those criteria.

FYI, Salt Lake City's ordinance restricts occupancy in it zoning by defining a family as follows:

"Family" means:
A. One or more persons related by blood, marriage, adoption, or legal guardianship, including foster children, living together as a single housekeeping unit in a dwelling unit; or
B. A group of not more than three (3) persons not related by blood, marriage, adoption, or legal guardianship living together as a single housekeeping unit in a dwelling unit; or
C. Two (2) unrelated persons and their children living together as a single housekeeping unit in a dwelling unit.
The term "family" shall not be construed to mean a club, group home, transitional victim home, substance abuse home, transitional home, a lodge or a fraternity/sorority house.

And Summit County defines a family to include:

10-11-1.108 Family: A single individual, doing his/her own cooking and living upon the premises as a separate housekeeping unit, or a collective body of persons doing their own cooking and living together upon the premises as a separate housekeeping unit in a domestic relationship based upon birth, marriage or other domestic bond as distinguished from a group occupying a boarding house, lodging house, club, fraternity or hotel.

The ordinances of other Utah governmental entities can be found on the links at

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

So, What is a View Worth, Anyway?

The New York Times has another interesting article on the values placed by New Yorkers on their views. It will be interesting to see the values and marketing of the City Creek and other high rise condominiums that are on their way to downtown Salt Lake City.

Value of a View