The 2023 legislative session in Minnesota was active, with several significant bills that will impact community associations in the state. Below is an abbreviating listing of those topics. As the laws are further defined and incorporated into daily living in HOAs, we will continue diving deeper into these topics in future newsletters and publications.
A controversial topic, to be sure, that has been swirling around Minnesota for the past few years became a new law – Minn. Stat. #342. As a part of the comprehensive language passed, specific points related to associations and multi-resident/unit dwellings. We have to look at it in two ways. One issue is smoking, and the second is growing. Associations will have to navigate both problems.
What it Says – generally, smoking or vaping in multi-resident/unit housing is unlawful and a nuisance under the statute. Growing is allowed with some limitations (maximum of eight plants).
When it comes to growing, it does get a little more complicated. The new law allows people to grow up to eight cannabis plants, with no more than four being mature; flowering plants may be grown at a single residence. Must be the primary residence of a person 21 or older. If outside, it must be (1) enclosed; (2) locked; and (3) not visible to the public. The current law does not reference multi-family/unit developments (HOAs).
Whom it Affects – all HOAs
What it Means – Vaporizing or smoking cannabis flowers, cannabis products, artificially derived cannabinoids, or hemp-derived consumer products is prohibited in multi-family housing buildings, including balconies and patios. By existing state statute, boards also can govern common areas, including prohibiting smoking or vaping of cannabis products if they so choose.
When it comes to growing, the association still controls common areas and can prohibit growing in limited common and common areas. However, they cannot regulate or disallow growing inside of the unit/home. The association’s Declarations would have to be amended to specifically disallow it.
That said, the association does have the ability to manage and respond to nuisance issues. Both state statutes and Declarations typically say something to the effect of:
Quiet Enjoyment; Interference Prohibited. All Owners and Occupants and their guests shall have a right to peaceful enjoyment in their respective Units. They shall use the Property in such a manner as will not cause a nuisance nor unduly restrict, interfere with, or impede the use of the Property by other Owners and Occupants and their guests.
Should the growing of cannabis create issues, such as smell, and other owners complain, the association does have the right to ask an owner to cease the activity that made said nuisance. This issue could become challenging for an association to navigate, and it should seek legal counsel.
When it Goes into Effect – July 1, 2023
Summary: our friends at the Smith, Jadin, and Johnson law firm recently spoke to Sharper Manager at length on this issue. An overview of their recommendations is as follows:
Send an update to Owners regarding the marijuana bill explaining that as multifamily housing, smoking and vaping are prohibited.
Take any complaints seriously and send violations consistent with Rule enforcement procedures. Keep a good paper trail.
For complaints lodged, Board will need to know (1) when the alleged violation occurred and (2) who was the violator.
If an Owner complains that they “smell” smoke, they can’t send a violation to every Owner. However, a general “reminder” email blast may help paper the file in case of a nuisance lawsuit.
If a lawsuit for nuisance arises – 1. If procedures are followed (sent violation), tell Owner you have enforced and that they must drop the case or else the HOA will defend itself and assess fees • 2. If procedures are not followed, settle
Like satellite dishes 20 years ago, associations must navigate homeowners wishing to install solar panels on rooflines. This has been a discussion amongst legislative bodies for the past few years. This year it finally got traction, and Minn. Stat. # 500.216 was passed. The bottom line, the new law limits some associations from prohibiting solar panels on rooflines.
What it Says – “Notwithstanding any … homeowners association document, … a private entity must not prohibit or refuse to permit the owner of a single-family dwelling to install, maintain, or use a roof-mounted solar energy system.”
Whom it Affects – Single family HOAs and any HOAs where the Owner is responsible for maintaining and insuring the dwelling (roofs, siding). Note that this bill does NOT apply to HOAs with shared roofs (such as a standard townhome).
What it Means – Single-family HOAs may want to create a policy that could set parameters, requirements, and approval processes around solar panels. Examples include:
Require only licensed contractors; prohibit materials extending beyond rooflines; require Owners to indemnify the HOA for any damages; require Owners remove the system if necessary to repair or replace something the HOA maintains.
When it Goes into Effect – August 1, 2023
Violations & Rule Enforcement
To create more uniformity in how rule violations are notified, fines assessed, and appeals processed, the Minnesota Common Interest Ownership Act (MCIOA) was amended to develop further standards.
What it Says – any fine associated with a rule violation has to meet seven specific criteria, or it could be challenged in court. Homeowners are also entitled to a more consistent process for an appeal and hearing of said fine.
Whom It Affects – all associations currently under MCIOA, which is any association built after June 1, 1994, and any condominium association regardless of when it was established.
What it Means – Any fine and specific assessments must be accompanied by a dated, written notice to the Owner, including seven pieces of information.
(1) states the amount and reason for the fine or assessment
(2) for fines levied under section 515B.3-102(a)(11) [VIOLATION OF GOVERNING DOCUMENTS], specifies (i) the violation for which a fine is being levied and the date of the levy; and (ii) the specific section of the declaration, bylaws, rules, or regulations allegedly violated;
(3) for assessments levied under section 515B.3-115(g) or 515B.3-1151(g) [DAMAGE TO COMMON ELEMENTS OR A UNIT], identifies: (i) the damage caused; and (ii) the act or omission alleged to have caused the damage;
(4) states that all unpaid fines and assessments are liens which, if not satisfied, could lead to foreclosure of the lien against the owner’s unit;
(5) describes the unit owner’s right to be heard by the board or a committee appointed by the board;
(6) states that if the assessment, fine, late fees, and other allowable charges are not paid, the amount may increase as a result of the imposition of attorney fees and additional collection costs; and
(7) informs the unit owner that homeownership assistance is available from the Minnesota Homeownership Center
When it Goes into Effect – January 1, 2024