LAW OFFICE OF MICHAEL FULBRIGHT

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Association Practice

            Serving condominium and other homeowner associations is the major focus of my practice.  They face a wide range of issues, some relatively simple and others surprisingly complex.   Their board members are volunteers from all walks of life.  They have the most important quality, the respect and trust of their fellow owners.  But their technical knowledge and experience with the issues they face is often limited.  Most are not real estate professionals.  I chose to focus my practice here because my particular skills and experiences are so well suited to this area.  I have dealt with many of the same challenges on many occasions, both as a lawyer and a business person.  I appreciate the range of issues that arise in this area.  But most of all, I enjoy actually solving real problems for real people. 

 

            I am available to act as general counsel or to undertake specific tasks or projects.  Your matters will always receive my personal attention.  They will not be passed off to a legal assistant, paralegal or less-experienced attorney.  Evening and weekend appointments are available, and there is no charge for an initial consultation.  Please call or email to discuss any matter or learn more about my services.

 

            My association services include the following general categories, each of which is described in more detail below:

·          General Operations and Governance

·         Collections

·         Financial Affairs

·         Governing Documents

·         Construction Defects

 

General Operations and Governance

 

            I assist with the myriad of issues or challenges that arise on a regular or routine basis in the operation of a condominium or other homeowner association.  This includes advice on the interpretation and application of the governing documents (declarations, bylaws and rules), compliance with federal, state and local laws, enforcement of governing documents, corporate filing and record keeping, contracts (construction, service and management), meeting procedures,  and developer transition matters.  I work hard to provide timely and practical responses.

 

Collections

 

            Even in the best of times, delinquent condominium assessments can be a problem.  High delinquencies can make a condominium ineligible for many common financing programs and hurt property values.  A firm and consistent policy goes a long way towards limiting delinquent assessment problems.  I can help you formulate and implement such a policy.  When the direct efforts of the association and/or its manager are unsuccessful, I offer flat fees for an assortment of collection services and options.  Of course, the primary goal is to resolve the matter without resorting to litigation.  When demand letters and lien filings do not get results, however, a lien foreclosure action is typically the next step, often taken in an almost knee-jerk reaction.  Sometimes a lien foreclosure action makes the most sense, but it’s relatively expensive (thousands of dollars) and not always effective.  There are lower cost alternatives to home foreclosures that can be as or more effective in many cases.  By lower cost, I mean spending hundreds of dollars, instead of thousands.  When you find yourself in a hole, sometimes you need to stop digging. 

 

Financial Affairs

 

            Effective financial management and procedures are critical for a successful Association.  I can assist you with your annual budget and assessment process, special assessment procedures, replacement reserve requirements, special financing needs, compliance with current lending requirements (Fannie Mae, FHA & VA), and insurance matters.  I know what it is like to prepare and live by operating and capital repair budgets, and what it is like to deal with unexpected financial developments. 

 

Governing Documents

 

            Unfortunately, far too many declarations, bylaws, rules and regulations, and other governing documents in place today are unclear, inconsistent and confusing.  Many are not well tailored to the properties they govern, and many do not reflect the needs and desires of their current owners.  Even well-crafted documents become dated and out of step with new laws, financing requirements and current business practices.  I have prepared governing documents for projects with as few as 4 units and with more than a thousand.  I take great pride in my documentation skills, whether it is a simple amendment for a specific issue, or a complete restatement of an entire declaration.  I can also guide you through the various approvals and procedures required to amend or replace your governing documents.

 

Construction Defect Claims

 

            A construction defect claims can be the most difficult, financially significant and contentious matter that an association will ever face.  They must be addressed before the warranty period expires, but construction defect claims are a one-time event for most.  A number of law firms concentrate on litigating construction defect claims, while meeting other association needs as more of an afterthought, if at all.  My approach is pretty much the opposite.  I will help you obtain dedicated construction professionals if and when the need arises, but I leave construction defect litigation to others.  I focus on the rest of an association’s legal needs.

 

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