Decriminalization of Adultery

As of January 1st of this year, New Hampshire repealed RSA:645:3. This was an antiquated and unenforced law which made adultery a class B misdemeanor. However, adultery remains a valid fault ground for divorce in New Hampshire. Now, an inquiry into such infidelity cannot be side-stepped by exercising the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, or “taking the 5th.” Therefore, in the context of a divorce proceeding, the issue of adultery will remain a relevant topic for the foreseeable future.

Our firm has been advocating for men and women dealing with the dissolution of marriage for more than 55 years. If you or someone you know is in need of a divorce attorney, call Winer and Bennett, LLP today at (603) 882-5157.

By: Brenner G. Webb

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Legislative Update

A quick note for New Hampshire- by way of legislative update, is that HB 1115 has passed and been signed by the Governor. Effective January 1, 2015, this new law makes clear that a Homestead Declaration filed by a unit owner does not afford any protection against an association’s lien for unpaid condominium assessments.

By: Gary Daddario

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New Hampshire Benefits Through CAI New England Membership: Explaining the Expo

As many in the Granite State are aware, we have joined forces with and have membership in the broader chapter known as CAI New England. Among other benefits, New Hampshire members will now enjoy the programs and events of CAI New England. One of the liveliest, most informative and well-attended events is the Annual “Expo”. For the benefit of those who are new to the New England Chapter, I thought I’d discuss the expo, its importance and why it is so helpful for association members/board members to attend.

I note at the outset that the annual expo has, for many instances and locations, turned into the type of industry event that maintains all the hustle and bustle of a small city. Parking lots at hosting hotels tend to fill on expo day, as do the hallways, exhibit areas and seminar halls. With the addition of the State of New Hampshire in the New England Chapter, there is now an additional expo that occurs at a New Hampshire location. This year’s “NH Expo”, the first of its kind as part of CAI New England, was well-attended and enjoyed by all. I look forward to seeing the growth of the NH Expo and to one day seeing the “small city” that it might become. Since growth depends on New Hampshire members understanding the benefits associated with attendance, I will describe some of those benefits here.

First, the annual expo offers a virtually no-cost education. Attendees may select from multiple seminar offerings taught by industry leaders. Unit owners, whether members of the association or the governing board, may select a topic (or more than one) of interest and learn all they need to know. Most seminars also include ample question and answer time. This allows attendees to obtain some immediate and free advice on their pressing issues.

Next, the expo offers “one-stop” shopping. Regardless of what type of service your association may need, there is a vendor of this type (probably three of them) with a booth at the expo. This affords attendees the ability to comparison shop under one roof and at one time. Further, many organizations send high-ranking personnel and company owners to the expo. This allows attendees to meet and speak with the company leaders and to gauge the vendor(s) that represents the best fit for their community.

In addition, the expo offers attendees the opportunity to socialize and network with members of other condominium associations. At first blush, you may wonder such activity would be important to your association. The answer is that many associations face similar challenges. To the extent that you can speak with members of an association that have already tackled the issue you presently struggle with, you may learn a lot from their experience. Attendees may even serve as great references, to each other, relative to experiences with vendors providing services to condominium associations.

Membership in CAI provides the benefit of discounted rates to CAI-sponsored events. In addition, membership includes a subscription to Condo Media magazine. Each month, industry professional fill the pages of this magazine with articles relevant and helpful to associations.

On a light note, the expo is, in a way, a bit like a shopping spree for those interested in free giveaway merchandise. From light up bouncy balls, to foam toys and from plastic and rubber figures and shapes to key chains, noise makers and Frisbees, a parent can return from the expo a hero with a full bag of treasures to distribute. Giveaway items even benefit adults to the extent of flashlights, tiny tools, coffee mugs, eyeglass cleaners and the like. It is always fun to fill a bag while you make the rounds. I hope to see you more of you milling about the expos in the future!

By: Gary Daddario
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Avoid Falling Behind…Look Ahead with Proper Planning

Proper planning is one of the most efficient methods of increasing the possibility of achieving our goals. So, how does an association board engage in proper planning? One of the more useful tools is a reserve study. At the high end, such studies are accomplished utilizing engineering as well as accounting services so that an association’s facilities may be accurately analyzed and future financial needs can be most accurately predicted. Such studies tend to be well worth the cost because they allow proper financial planning over the time span afforded by the life cycle of the association’s facilities. This allows an association to build financial resources steadily and to avoid sudden, large increases in condo fees and, worse yet, special assessments.

Another element of proper association planning is budgeting. The association’s budget leads to the unit owners’ financial obligations for the year which, in turn, leads to the association’s ability to conduct operations in a fiscally-responsible manner. Boards should be reasonable and realistic in creating the annual budget. Utilities tend to be on the rise. Similarly, vendors seem to charge more, not less, for their services as time marches on. In short, just as we experience on a personal level with our household budgets, association operations suffer an increasing “cost of living” pattern over time. Associations need to plan for this and make minor year-to-year adjustments in condo fees accordingly. The failure to do so typically results in an inability to meet financial demands. This manifests itself in underfunded reserves, special assessments and delayed maintenance projects. Smaller, consistent increases in the budget are more easily accepted by the unit owners association.

On the issue of maintenance projects, this is another area ripe for proper planning. Boards should avoid underestimating the time involved in setting specifications, collecting bids, selecting a vendor and negotiating a contract. This is especially true for projects requiring a particular season in order for vendor services to be performed. Beginning the process well in advance of the time for performance of services is the best way to ensure the project will begin and end on schedule.

Finally, a subject near and dear to me, legal matters. Although commonly misconceived as “crises” to be dealt with when an association’s hand is forced, it is possible to lessen the blow of legal matters with proper planning. This can be achieved by creating and maintaining proper records with respect to troublesome events. Evidence (e.g. documents, communications, photographs, etc.) should be preserved before it is lost. Witnesses should be secured in a timely fashion and prior to the fading of memories. Sometimes, early consultation with legal counsel may allow an association to sidestep a legal dispute through strategic action and not merely “deal with” the problem when it “blows up”. In such cases, the expense of strategic advice may be far less than the expense associated with even successful prosecution or defense of a lawsuit.

Here’s to successful operations through proper planning!

By: Gary Daddario

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