Have Homeowners Associations Crossed the Line? Homeowners Associations Are Quick to Pursue Foreclosure for Unpaid Assessments

I.  Introduction  

Common Interest Communities have become a way of life for the American people.  Millions of Americans reside in gated communities governed by homeowners associations. [1] These communities are growing in popularity for numerous reasons.  One such reason is that families want to live and raise their children in an environment that fits their needs and desires. [2]  Another reason is that people feel a sense of security and stability in a gated community. [3] 

However, these communities have not escaped strong criticism for their burdensome restrictions, excessive regulation and aggressive enforcement.  Critics argue that the disadvantage of living in such a community is that homeowners have to comply with a myriad of restrictions and covenants and failure to do so can result in fines. [4]  Critics also allege that the zealous homeowners associations often times abuse their powers … Read the rest

An Option You Shouldn’t Pass Up

          The nationwide credit crisis has made the “American Dream” unattainable to most citizens. As lenders instituting rigorous requirements making qualifying for mortgages nearly impossible. The record breaking foreclosures and unemployment have added fuel to the fire, putting pressure on homeowners to reduce their asking prices. Many owners have been forced to sell at far below market value, accepting a large loss on properties that when purchased had high potential for profitability. However, the resurgence of lease-option agreements, especially in areas where foreclosure rates are high, has sparked hope for many sellers and buyers. [1]

          A lease-option agreement, also called a rent-to-buy option, combines a traditional lease between a landlord and tenant with the option or right to purchase the leased home. [2] The agreement stipulates that “the buyer take possession of the goods with the first payment and takes ownership with the final payment.”[3] With a lease-option, the Read the rest

Grey Area Anatomy: Tax Exemptions for Nonprofit Hospitals

I.  Introduction

A key battle over America’s healthcare future is being fought in one of the most unlikeliest of places: Urbana, Illinois.  Scheduled for argument in front of the Illinois Supreme Court in mid-2009, Provena Covenant Medical Center v. Department of Revenue is poised to set the bar regarding the tax exempt status of nonprofit hospitals.[1] Nonprofit hospitals, such as Provena, account for near sixty percent of the hospitals in the U.S., while the others are either for-profit or government-owned.[2] Oddly, these nonprofit hospitals are actually faring better than their for-profit counterparts. Seventy-seven percent of the 2033 U.S. nonprofit hospitals are “in the black”, while sixty-one percent of for-profit hospitals are profitable.[3] One of the reasons for such high success rates is the ability of non-profit hospitals to receive significant tax exemptions. The Congressional Budget Office reported in 2006 that nonprofit hospitals receive an estimated $12.6 billion in annual tax … Read the rest

Zoning and Regulation of Detroit’s Adult Entertainment Businesses: Has it gone too far?

I.  Background

Detroit has been working hard to revive the city and bring residential growth to the downtown area. [1] Millions of dollars have gone into renovating historic buildings, creating new public transportation, reviving the riverfront and building residential lofts in the Central Business District area. [2] Detroit wants to prove that, “the growing population can support and sustain retail and grocery development,” for its current and future residents. [3] New casinos and stadiums have also enhanced the city’s cultural atmosphere while attracting a wave of young professionals. [4] Issues will arise, however, when the city tries to achieve this vision of a “better Detroit” by imposing ordinances and regulations on businesses that it deems problematic to their ideal. In particular, the city of Detroit has targeted the adult entertainment business as an industry they would like to see zoned out.


II. Legal Issues for Detroit’s Adult Entertainment

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Get On The City Bus: The Future of The American Suburb and Her Automobiles

I.  Introduction

Jane Jacobs’ 1961 book, the Life and Death of Great American Cities revolutionized the way Americans viewed the streets that stretched beyond their front door.  In critiquing the programs of her era’s urban planners, Jacobs held up the sentimental and somewhat physically cramped city neighborhood as the pinnacle of communal living. [1]  Regardless of Jacobs’ warnings, urbanism rolled on, and in so doing, the suburb was born. Despite Americans’ preference towards the suburb in the later half of the twentieth century, our nation is currently poised to regret the very expansionist zest that drew them away from the urban core.  With the fluctuating price of gas and the limited public transportation alternatives, suburban Americans are forced to devote an ever-growing portion of their income and time to surviving their daily commutes. [2] Reducing the price of gas may be a legitimate means of combating the immediate crisis, but

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Basketball in Brooklyn: Taking it to the . . . Courts?

Recent news concerning the NBA's New Jersey Nets imminent move to
Brooklyn has met with protest from residents of the neighborhood where
the proposed arena is to be built.  In particular, a community group
composed of neighborhood organizations and individuals who live near
the proposed development site called Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn is
leading the court battle against the proposed Barclays Arena and
Atlantic Yards development that would bring new life to the open-air
storage facility for buses and rail cars, but will also require the
destruction of currently occupied residential and commercial spaces. 
[1]  The Atlantic Yards development is a $4 billion, eight million
square feet project spanning 22 acres along Brooklyn's Atlantic Avenue
which includes a basketball arena for the New Jersey Nets' move to
Brooklyn, office buildings, thousands of apartments and condominiums (a
significant portion of which will be "affordable" as opposed to market
priced), as well
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Following the LEEDer: What Attorneys Should Know About Green Building

Green building is gaining momentum as a construction trend with widespread benefits, from environmental efficiency and resource conservation to human health and lifestyle improvement.  Several government entities have reacted to the green building movement, creating national and local standards and monetary incentives for developers to create green buildings.  In representing developers and others associated with green building, attorneys should consider how to contractually plan for risks that may not otherwise arise in ordinary development projects.

I. What is “Green Building”?

Green buildings are “designed, built, operated, renovated, and disposed of using ecological principles for the purpose of promoting occupant health and resource efficiency plus minimizing the impacts of the built environment on the natural environment.”[1]  The costs of green building as compared to ordinary construction are debatable.  One 2001 study found that green buildings cost “ten to fifteen percent more” than conventional buildings.[2]  To the contrary, a 2003 study found

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Homeowners’ Associations & Their Limitations on Free Speech

I. Introduction

Free speech is a right guaranteed by the First Amendment, but is it possible to give up this right if you move into a neighborhood governed by a homeowners’ association? The New Jersey Supreme Court had to decide this issue when a group of residents subject to the rules of their homeowners’ association were restricted from posting signs on their lawns or the common areas of the community. [1] Although the ruling is limited to application in New Jersey, homeowners’ associations everywhere were watching the case closely to see whether it would have an impact on how their state dealt with such constitutional challenges to their rules and regulations. [2] This article will explore the outcome of the New Jersey case as well as its implications on homeowners’ associations elsewhere.

II. The New Jersey Supreme Court Ruling

In New Jersey, the Twin Rivers Homeowners’ Association was sued over

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Illinois’ Right to Possess Statute Aims to Protect Tenants from Landlord Foreclosure

With real estate foreclosures at near record levels, more and more renters are forced to move prematurely because their landlords are unable to stay out of foreclosure. Foreclosed rental properties are quite common.  For example, 44% of the repossessed properties sold in California last August were not owner-occupied. [1] After foreclosure, banks are not contractually obligated to let tenants occupy the premises and in most cases, tenants receive very little notice of the need to vacate. [2]  In response, the Illinois legislature recently passed a law limiting a bank’s ability to force a tenant out after the property has been foreclosed. [3]

Prior to the newly enacted Right to Possess law, a tenant had limited information about ongoing foreclosure proceedings and little time to vacate the property after judgment.   Since a landlord is not obligated to tell his or her tenants about the potential of foreclosure, most tenants did not

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The Trade-off: Land for Fewer Dropped Calls

With 171 million wireless subscribers in the United States, it is no surprise that the number of cellular phone transmission towers grew from 22,663 in 1995 to 104,288 in 2000. [1] These towers range from fifteen to twenty stories tall, and can make quite a statement when added to a city block or neighborhood park. [2] Residents of cities all across America have protested the planting of these unsightly towers in their neighborhoods, but the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association has reported that "dead spots and dropped calls can be eliminated only by new cell sites." [3] Faced with that reality, we are forced to decide which is the lesser of two evils: dropped calls or backyard barbeques next to a cell phone tower.

No matter how much people refuse to live without wireless technology, the common reaction of communities is to keep those cell towers as far away from

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