Amending articles of incorporation, master deeds and condominium bylaws.
Condo Law Practice Areas
Michigan Condo Lawyers
Michigan Condo Lawyers to Assist with Updating Condo Bylaws
Michigan condominium associations are governed by the articles of incorporation, master deed, condominium bylaws and rules and regulations adopted by the condominium association. The older the documents, the greater the likelihood that the board should be updating condo bylaws to comply with changes in Michigan law or changes in society. Once the determination is made that updating condo bylaws is appropriate, the second step is to contact an experienced condo attorney to assist the condominium association through the amendment process.
In Michigan, a condominium association must regularly review and update its articles of incorporation, master deed, condominium bylaws and rules to ensure they comply with applicable laws, and adequately address owners’ needs and changes in technology. Updating condo bylaws will often help your condominium association avoid costly litigation.
When Should a Condominium Association Amend the Condo Bylaws?
- The articles of incorporation are dated before January 15, 2018.
In 2015 and 2018, major revisions were made to the Michigan Nonprofit Corporation Act, MCL 450.2101, et. seq., Act 162 of 1982.
A few examples of the changes include:
- participation in meetings by electronic means
- voting by electronic means
- additional limitations on director and officer liability
- new requirements for the inspection of association records
- the ability to create nonexecutive committees.
The articles of incorporation should also permit a Michigan condominium association to act by voting outside to accommodate the busy lifestyles of co-owners in today’s society.
We recommend reviewing your condominium association’s articles of incorporation to determine if they need updating. You can search for a copy of your Michigan condominium association’s articles of incorporation here.
- The master deed and bylaws have not been updated to account for changes in the Michigan Condominium Act.
The Michigan Condominium Act, MCL 559.101, et. seq. was originally enacted in 1978. Any master deed or bylaws drafted prior to 1978 should be immediately reviewed and amended to reflect numerous changes in Michigan and federal law.
Moreover, in 2001 and 2002, significant amendments were made to the Michigan Condominium Act. It was updated in 2014 as well. If a condominium association’s master deed and bylaws were not amended to reflect the changes to the Michigan Condominium Act, then there is a strong likelihood that the master deed and bylaws need to be updated.
- The master deed and bylaws were written by the developer’s attorney.
Condominium developers often draft a master deed and condominium bylaws to protect the interests of the developer. A condominium developer’s goals are primarily to sell units and complete the project. The developer often is not concerned about the long-range planning and operations of a condominium association.
After control of a condominium association’s board of directors is transferred from the developer to the co-owners, it is wise for a condominium association to amend its governing documents. The amendments not only make the documents more user-friendly by removing obsolete provisions, but they also ensure that a successor developer will not attempt to take advantage of certain developer rights later in the lifecycle of a project.
Developers also commonly include “anti-lawsuit” provisions in condominium bylaws to prevent themselves from being sued. In some cases, these provisions are so broad that they later prevent condominium associations from enforcing the condominium bylaws or collecting assessments without co-owner approval, which is often difficult to obtain for practical reasons.
Additionally, at the completion of the condominium project, many developers fail to record a consolidating master deed and leave the condominium project with numerous amendments. Co-owners and condominium association board members often become frustrated searching through the various amendments for answers to simple questions.
Many condominium associations will file a restated master deed and condominium bylaws that combines numerous amendments into a single document for ease of use.
- The master deed and bylaws do not address current issues.
Master deeds and condominium bylaws can become outdated based on changes in technology or the law. Times are changing, which means you should address updating condo bylaws.
Given that the law evolves much slower than technology and various other trends, condominium associations should take a proactive approach to anticipate potential issues. A reactive approach will often result in litigation if potential problems are not addressed in the condominium bylaws before they arise.
Here are examples of common issues not addressed in many condominium bylaws:
- Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
- Electronic Voting
- HAM Radio
- Insurance Coverage
- Medical Marijuana
- Rental Caps
- Remote Meeting Participation
- Short-Term Rentals (Airbnb)
- Social Media
- Smart Phone Use
- Smoking Bans
- Solar Panels
- Website Use
- Wi-Fi Use
- The master deed/bylaws/condominium subdivision plan contains conflicting provisions.
Human error in drafting condominium documents can result in documents containing conflicting provisions. Ambiguous drafting often leads to expensive litigation. Condominium documents that contain conflicts in the master deed, condominium bylaws, or condominium subdivision plan should be amended immediately to avoid potential litigation.
- The condominium bylaws do not contain adequate enforcement mechanisms.
All condominium bylaws should allow for the condominium association to recover attorney’s fees and costs as allowed by MCL 559.206 of the Michigan Condominium Act. In addition, condominium bylaws should allow for the assessments of damages—including attorney’s fees and costs—back to a co-owner who has violated the condominium documents.
Additionally, not all condominium bylaws permit the condominium association to impose fines for violations of the condominium documents. Condominium associations updating condo bylaws ensure that they have adequate enforcement provisions.
- The master deed/bylaws/condominium subdivision plan is unclear.
At Hirzel Law, PLC, we believe that condominium documents should be drafted in plain English to the extent possible. Many condominium documents are drafted by attorneys and for attorneys, which makes them incomprehensible to condominium association boards and co-owners.
If a condominium association is constantly having battles over the interpretation of language contained in condominium documents, it may be time to think about updating condo bylaws to clarify specific issues.
How Do You Amend the Condo Bylaws under MCL 559.190?
While the process may vary slightly depending on the size of the condominium , below is a general overview of the steps a condominium association goes through when amending its condominium bylaws:
1. The board receives a questionnaire to help prepare the initial draft of the amendment.
2. After providing the first draft, the board provides feedback and then the attorney works with the board to make any requested revisions and get the documents into “final” form.
3. Next, the attorney would then hold an informational meeting (this could be done online) to review the documents with the co-owners to see if they had any questions or additional input.
4. The voting process begins. 2/3 co-owner approval is required, and 2/3 mortgagee approval may be required depending on what is being amended.
5. The approved amendment would then be recorded and would become effective upon recording.
One thing that sets Hirzel Law PLC apart is that we have meetings with all our condo attorneys to review documents. We are constantly updating governing documents based on new cases, changes in Michigan condominium law and new issues we spot in our practice.
What Are Condo Rules and Regulations?
Every condo association is governed by a set of rules and regulations. These rules are enforced by a condo association. Their primary goal is to oversee the maintenance and management of the common areas of your building and to determine the accepted behaviors within the complex. For instance, there may be rules on noise-making or rules that determine the type or number of animal they allow each unit owner to have.
Should Your Condominium Association Have Its Documents Reviewed by a Condo Lawyer?
It is a smart idea to have your condominium association governing documents reviewed by a condo lawyer. With Hirzel Law’s experience in condominium association governing documents, we are well equipped to amend and update condo bylaws. Our goal is to make the language as clear as possible to avoid ambiguities that lead to unnecessary litigation. Our Michigan condo attorneys are up to date on updating condo bylaws, so they comply with the most current Michigan condominium association laws.
Contact Our Condo Lawyers for Help with Updating Condo Bylaws
At Hirzel Law, PLC, our Michigan condo lawyers can help your condominium association with updating your master deed and condo bylaws. We stand by our clients, offering the highest quality legal representation and promptly responding to our clients’ needs.
Contact Hirzel Law online or call 248-986-2921 (Farmington) or 231-486-5600 (Traverse City) or 616-319-9964 (Grand Rapids office) to see how our Michigan condo lawyers can assist with updating condo bylaws for your condominium association.