Federal Legislative Update for Condominium Associations: Amateur Radio Parity Act, FHA Certification and FEMA
I had the pleasure of attending the Community Association Institute (CAI) Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C. earlier this week and talking with various legislators and their staff regarding issues that impact Condominium Associations. Three (3) major federal issues that will impact Condominium Associations and Homeowner Associations are as follows:
1. Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 – H.R. 1301 & S. 1685
Amateur Radio (HAM radio) is a hobby in which people use personal radio stations to communicate with each other in a manner that does not utilize the internet or cell phones. CAI estimates that less than 1% of the members of community associations across the nation are HAM radio users. HAM radio users often need to install larger antennas to operate an amateur radio station. H.R. 1301 and S. 1685 directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to amend current regulations concerning the height and dimensions of station antenna structures to prohibit private land use restrictions from applying to amateur service communications (HAM Radio) if the restriction precludes such communications, fails to accommodate such communications, or does not constitute the minimum practicable restriction to accomplish the legitimate purpose of the private entity seeking to enforce the restriction. Given that the FCC has previously indicated that limiting the size of a HAM radio antenna is not a reasonable accommodation, this legislation would allow for a minority of community association members to place radio antennas of unlimited size throughout community associations and take away the power of a community association’s board of directors to have control over the appearance of their neighborhood. I would urge any member of a community association to oppose H.R. 1301 and S. 1685.
2. Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act – H.R. 3700
H.R. 3700 would relax the current requirements for a condominium project to obtain FHA Certification and Recertification. Specifically, H.R. 3700 would make the following changes to the FHA Certification process:
- FHA Certification currently last for 2 years. H.R. 3700 would direct HUD to make FHA Certification last longer than 2 years.
- H.R. 3700 would direct HUD to simplify the FHA recertification process and make recertification less burdensome than the initial application.
- H.R. 3700 would streamline the process to request a commercial space exemption.
- H.R. 3700 would set the owner-occupancy rate for a condominium project at 35% instead of the current rate of 50%.
I would urge any member of a community association to support H.R. 3700 as it will increase the potential pool of purchasers for condominium units, which should result in increased property values for co-owners.
3. FEMA Disaster Assistance Reform Act of 2015 – H.R. 1471
FEMA is a federal program that assists homeowners and municipalities with recovering from disasters. FEMA funds are available for restoration of a single family home in the event of a disaster when insurance proceeds are exhausted or the damage was not insured. FEMA funds may be used for roof repair, HVAC repair, electrical box repair, entry and egress restoration, etc. in a single family home. In contrast, current FEMA legislation only allows for funds to be utilized to repair the interior of a condominium unit. FEMA funds cannot be used for common element repairs and condominium associations are currently ineligible to receive FEMA funds. H.R. 1471 would allow for FEMA funds to be paid directly to condominium associations and to be utilized for common element repairs in the event of a disaster. I would urge any member of a community association to support H.R. 1471 as it will provide needed support to community associations that are impacted by a natural disaster.
In closing, I would urge any member of a community association to contact their representative and/or senator to advise them of their positions on the above issues. Click here to locate your representative and find out how to contact them. Click here to learn how to contact your senators.
Kevin Hirzel is the Managing Member of Hirzel Law, PLC and concentrates his practice on commercial litigation, community association law, condominium law, Fair Housing Act compliance, homeowners association and real estate law. Mr. Hirzel is a fellow in the College of Community Association Lawyers, a prestigious designation given to less than 175 attorneys in the country. He has been a Michigan Super Lawyer’s Rising Star in Real Estate Law from 2013-2018, an award given to only 2.5% of the attorneys in Michigan each year. Mr. Hirzel was named an Up & Coming Lawyer by Michigan Lawyer’s Weekly in 2015, an award given to only 30 attorneys in Michigan each year. He represents community associations, condominium associations, cooperatives, homeowners associations, property owners and property managers throughout Michigan. He may be reached at (248) 478-1800 or [email protected].