Mr. Hoffman, who has been em-
ployed by the accounting firm
since 1983, specializes in the real
estate industry, estate planning
and fiduciary taxation.
SHARON MITCHELSON of
St. Clair Shores has been named
assistant controller for promo-
tions at the Fourmidable Group,
one of Southeast Michigan's
largest property management
companies. Ms. Mitchelson will
supervise the Processing De-
partment for accounts receivable
and accounts payable at Four-
midable's corporate office in
Farmington Hills. She also will
provide accounting support
for Fourmidable's community
Do Your Homework
Looking to move into a condominium? It's a good
idea to read the association's bylaws.
R.J. KING SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS
magine living in a condomini-
um development which places
a limit on the weight of dogs,
requires permission for a par-
ty of 15 or more people or disal-
lows automobile repairs inside
community boundaries, even for
a flat tire.
Now imagine flouting one of
these restrictions, winding up in
court for breach of contract and
being asked to pay for court fees,
legal representation and dam-
ages. In some cases, violating res-
idents may have to cover attorney
fees for the condominium associ-
ation initiating the suit.
"People buying into condo-
miniums don't expect to wind up
in court, but they only own the in-
side walls, not the outside or the
common areas," said Arthur Y.
Liss, a senior partner with Liss
and Associates, a law firm in
Bloomfield Hills which specializes
in litigation proceedings.
"With regard to the outside, the
bylaws may specify what kind of
furniture is on a deck, the color of
the deck and the type of flowers
in a garden, if a garden is allowed
at all. When there's a dispute and
it can't be settled, you can rack up
thousands of dollars in attorney
fees and get virtually nothing."
A case in point: A condomini-
um resident in Oakland County
was sued in 1990 for falling be-
hind in monthly association fees.
The association, which brought
suit, asked that the defendant
make payment with interest for
the back fees as well as pick up
all attorney costs, which after
three years in court totaled
The judge agreed to the asso-
ciation's request, but only award-
ed $15 plus a few nominal filing
fees. In the court's final opinion,
District Court Judge Ralph H.
Nelson wrote: "This Court grant-
ed (the Association) thousands of
dollars in attorney fees in a pri-
or matter involving a (resident)
who, on numerous occasions, had
a vehicle parked in a fire lane, be-
cause that was a threat to the
"In the present case, the Court
does not find any reason to raise
the Association above any other
creditor by granting attorney fees,
where there has been no credible
evidence supporting the theory
that this action ... was necessary
to protect the well being of the
So how to stay out of court? At-
torneys advise potential buyers
to read over condominium bylaws
before moving in. If any restric-
tions prove too irksome, other as-
sociations may be more obliging.
And if a dispute does arise, settle
it out of court.
Apart from potential legal en-
tanglements, condominium asso-
ciations have increased in
recent years in response to mid-
dle-class fears of crime, scarcity
of land (which makes communal
living more attractive) and cuts
in local and state taxes. The same
people who vote down taxes will
pay monthly association fees to
maintain their own roads, street
lamps and landscaping.
"The main benefit of condo-
minium associations is that they
keep property values up," said
Bob Stillman, vice president of
Crosswinds Communities Inc. in
Novi, which has built over 1,300
condominium residences. "When
you buy a condominium and
drive by, the exterior always
looks good because the commu-
nity is paying for common main-
"Associations keep costs down
for everyone, and whatever you
buy today and sell down the road,
you want it to have curb appeal.
People also can enjoy swimming
pools or tennis courts at little
Stillman said association fees
range from $75 to $200 per
month, depending on the ameni-
ties. He said fees may be more if
there is a private security force.
In many respects, condomini-
um associations have formed a
new layer of private government.
According to the Community
Associations Institute, there
were 150,000 condominium
groups last year, helping ad-
minister the lives of 35 million
people — or one out of every sev-
en Americans. The average size
of each condominium group was
543 housing units. ❑
Visit the Investment Specialists at
Birmingham — William Wessels
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Annual percentage rate effective as of July 1, 1994.
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