Law Conference — The Panel of Pundits

This afternoon’s session is the opportunity for an interactive session, with five practitioners fielding and responding to questions from the audience, and audience members jumping in.  Questions have been submitted in advance, and can be submitted from the floor.
  • · Jim Strichartz, from Washington, says that his firm has 75 active foreclosures pending against lenders, with their goal being to get title to the property, and collect rent through a court-appointed receiver.  Other associations are seeking to remove bank-owned units from the association’s blanket insurance policies, so as to force the lenders to obtain (and pay for) their own insurance.  Obviously, that decision creates some significant risk, particularly where the uninsured units are integrated with other units.
  • Several attorneys in the audience have obtained loans for their client associations through the Small Business Administration to cover uninsured casualty losses arising from earthquakes in California and floods in Georgia.  There are some interesting issues as to how (or if) those loans are being secured.
  • The firm of Hindman Sanchez, in Colorado, offers a monthly “foreclosure hotline” to which homeowners can call in their foreclosure questions.  Loura Sancez reports that they’re not getting many calls, and the services would otherwise be free to their flat-fee clients, but she thinks it’s good marketing…
  • Much of the discussion has now moved to how to deal with the confusing collection issues that are arising daily in today’s economy.  Lots of firms report that clients are moving based upon dissatisfaction with their attorneys’ collection success rates based upon historical expectations.
  • David Swedelson is concerned about his associations that are deferring maintenance and repairs on their associations.  He was watching the news and saw an interview with a client board member, who was explaining that they couldn’t afford to repair the crater.  Needless to say, he called his client the next day to tell him to advise that they fix it immediately.  Some things cannot be deferred.
  • George Nowack  and the members of  his firm are adding language to their declarations specifically providing that apathetic unit owners who don’t respond to several overtures for a vote will be deemed to support “whatever the association wants.”
  • Several panelists and audience members are seeing their clients get unintentionally immersed into collection agency contracts that take not only past due, but also future assessments.   And no one on the panel or in the audience believes that credit reporting is of assistance.
  • George Nowack reports that many of his firm’s associations are offering amnesty or partial amnesty on getting something.  These decisions, made on a case-by-case basis can be warranted by the business judgment rule.  Furthermore, associations have some flexibility in connection with late fees and interest.

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