Legislation Passed to Revise Ohio's Condominium Statute

House Bill 135 has passed unanimously in the House of Representatives and by a vote of 29-3 in the Senate. It now awaits the Governor's signature. The current Ohio law on condominiums is Ohio Revised Code 5311. A copy of the legislation may be obtained off the web at www.legislature.state.oh.us.

Over recent years, it has become clear that Ohio’s condominium statute is outdated and in need of substantial revision. The current statute, enacted in 1963 and amended in 1978, basically states what developers can and cannot do. This statute was fine when condominiums in Ohio were predominately in the development stage. Unfortunately, the current statute fails to address a wide variety of issues facing boards of condominium associations. The revisions to the statute, as proposed, address many of these issues in a manner that protects and promotes the authority of the board.

The following summary outlines many of the changes. The numbers in the parenthesis reference the line numbers where the language is found in the legislation.

5311.01 Adds numerous definitions to the statute that are currently missing. (288-475)

5311.031 Simplifies the procedure for combining two units by letting the board approve the application and provides detail as to information to be recorded reflecting the combination. (570-607)

5311.032 Permits the changing of limited common areas among owners. (608-635)

5311.04(G) Authorizes the board to permit unenclosed, open-air patios and decks on limited common areas. (729-737)

5311.04(H) Permits the association to purchase property with the approval of seventy-five percent (75%) of the voting power instead of the current unanimous consent. (738-757)

5311.041(B-1) Permits the association to implement a two-tiered annual assessment with some costs split evenly so long as approved by ninety percent (90%) of the voting power. Costs that may be split evenly include management, security, rubbish removal, legal and accounting expenses. (761-775)

5311.05(B-9) Requires the developer to disclose any membership that the owners must pay for other than membership in the association. (828-832)

5311.05(E-1) Permits the board, without the vote of the owners, to amend the declaration to meet requirements of lending institutions or insurance underwriters. (997-1010)

5311.08(A-1) Permits the spouse of a unit owner to serve on the board. (1159-1160)

5311-08(3) Stipulates that the owners present in person or by proxy at a meeting shall constitute a quorum. (1169-1171)

5311.08(5-A) Permits board meetings to be held by speakerphone or electronic chat rooms. (1183-1188)

5311.081(1) Specifies that the board must enact a budget with reserves of not less than ten percent (10%) of the budget unless the bylaws state differently or the reserve requirement is waived by a majority vote of the voting power. (1311-1318)

5311.081(2-B1) Details an extensive list of powers and authority bestowed upon the board, including the power to make rules and to impose late charges and enforcement assessments (1321-1403)

5311.081(C-1) Establishes the right of the board to levy enforcement assessments and the right of an owner to request a hearing to dispute the enforcement assessment (1404-1441)

5311.09(2) Mandates that within thirty (30) days of ownership, the owner must notify the association of his/her address and telephone number. (1453-1467)

5311.09(B) Specifies exactly what documents the developer must give the association at turnover. (1468-1479)

5311.09(B-C) Requires the developer to provide information about the location of underground utilities for new construction. (1480-1489)

5311.091(A) Permits the owners to examine records, but gives the association the ability to specify the time and cost of such inspection. (1496-1505)

5311.091(B) Identifies the records that owners are not permitted to inspect including personnel files, contracts under negotiation, and litigation information. (1506-1525)

5311.18(A-1-a) Permits a condominium lien to be filed not only for past due maintenance fees and assessments but also for outstanding interest, late fees, enforcement assessments, collection costs, and attorney fees. (1720-1734)

5311-18(2) Outlines the application of payments: 1) outstanding interest, 2) late fees, 3) collection costs or legal fees, and 4) principal amounts owed for common expenses and enforcement assessments. (1735-1747)

5311.18(B-2) Permits the association, not just the plaintiff in a foreclosure, to seek the appointment of a receiver during a foreclosure. (1778-1789)

5311.18(B-6) Stipulates that the failure of the association to provide a given service is not a defense in a foreclosure. (1805-1808)

5311.19(A) Permits an award of legal fees for violation of the governing documents or restrictions. (1830-1836)

5311-19(B-1) Authorizes the association to evict tenants who are in violation of the governing documents or restrictions. (1837-1851)

5311.21 Permits the association to retain common profits at year end and apply them toward reserves. (1869-1875)

5311.25(D) Stipulates that after the developer turns over control, the association may not be bound for more than ninety (90) days to a management contract or more than one year for other contracts, except utilities. (2029-2043)

5311.25(F) Mandates that the developer must pay maintenance fees for a unit from the date it is declared regardless of the status of construction of the unit. (2098-2105)

While no legislation is perfect, House Bill 135 clarifies and improves association operations.