2015 is shaping up to be a challenging year for community associations at the federal level. A key federal mortgage regulator is leading an assault on association lien priority laws, while HAM radio hobbyists are asking Congress to overturn community association architectural standards. Despite these challenges, important progress is being made on the key CAI priority of securing community association access to federal disaster assistance.
Federal Assault on Association Lien Priority
Community association residents know better than most the impact of the nation’s lingering foreclosure crisis. CAI members see first-hand how lenders refuse to complete foreclosures on abandoned homes, allowing these properties to languish.
Associations have turned to the courts, winning important battles and forcing lenders to repair abandoned properties. State legislatures also have taken notice of the abysmal record of lenders and strengthened association priority lien statutes.
These association successes at the state level have led mortgage lenders to seek help from federal regulators. Lenders successfully prompted the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to file suit in opposition to Nevada's association priority lien statute. Even more egregious are reports from CAI members that FHFA officials are actively lobbying Nevada lawmakers to repeal the state’s association priority lien statute.
CAI has not been silent. CAI members and staff have met with senior officials at the FHFA, including FHFA Director Mel Watt. FHFA officials have thus far failed to comprehend how association priority lien statutes protect homeowners and lenders that follow federal mortgage standards and state law.
In coming weeks CAI members will be asked to share their association's experiences with prolonged foreclosures on abandoned properties. Federal policymakers in Washington DC need to hear directly from community associations that there is no excuse for lenders allowing abandoned properties to fester in our communities, damaging association finances and posing significant safety risks to residents.
HAM Radio Towers & Fixed Antennas Could be Coming to your Association
HAM radio special interests have renewed lobbying activities in Congress, seeking to exempt amateur radio operators from community association rules and architectural standards on HAM radio towers and antennas.
U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) has introduced legislation, H.R. 1301, to repeal all community association prohibitions on HAM radio broadcasting and to require that associations comply with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) "reasonable accommodation" standards for HAM radio operators.
While Rep. Kinzinger says his legislation has limited impact on associations, the FCC’s reasonable accommodation standard generally prohibits meaningful neighborhood input on the location, number, and installation of devices like satellite dishes and other antennas. If this standard is applied to HAM radio, community associations will likely be prevented from enforcing prior approval requirements, have limited say in where HAM radio antennas and towers are installed, and be limited in governing the number of antennas installed by a resident.
The truth is CAI members have a good track record of accommodating HAM radio hobbyists. Many communities work with HAM radio hobbyists on the design and installation of antennas. Some communities even set aside space in community centers for HAM radio clubs.
To voice opposition to Rep. Kinzinger and H.R. 1301, use CAI’s Advocacy Center to ask your U.S. Representative and Senators to oppose H.R. 1301. Get involved by visiting www.caionline.org.
Federal Disaster Assistance in Community Associations
Community associations often face alone the daunting task of cleaning up and rebuilding after a major natural disaster. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) routinely denies association requests to remove debris that choke roads and canals in communities after a major disaster. Condominium and cooperative homeowners are subject to arbitrary FEMA restrictions on the use of federal home repair assistance.
CAI advocacy efforts to address these inequities and qualify associations for FEMA disaster assistance are gaining traction in Congress. U.S. Representative Steve Israel (D-NY) will soon introduce legislation ensuring all community associations and association residents have equal access to federal disaster assistance.
Congress is actively debating legislation reforming how FEMA provides federal disaster assistance. Rep. Israel is directly involved in these discussions, lobbying other Representatives on the disaster needs of community associations.
CAI is working alongside Rep. Israel, meeting with congressional offices, providing key information to policymakers, and encouraging support for Rep. Israel’s legislation. CAI applauds Rep. Israel’s leadership on this important issue.
For more information on CAI’s federal priorities and to become an advocate for your community, please contact CAI Government Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org or (888) 224-4321.