▶House Resolution (“H.R.”) 2996 and Senate Bill (“S.B.”) 2109 would amend the Stafford Act, the law under which the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) operates. FEMA has in recent years taken the position that HOAs are not covered by the Stafford Act because FEMA considers them “business associations” and therefore are not eligible for emergency assistance. This caused great consternation in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy, which pounded the East Coast, particularly New Jersey. Based on their interpretation of the Stafford Act FEMA refused to assist common interest communities with emergency aid such as removing downed trees. HR 2996 and S.B. 2109 would remove this discrimination and entitle association residents the same protection as other citizens during times of disaster.
▶H.R. 3700, called the “Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2015,” was introduced in October 2015. Section 301 of that bill would provide further relief to condominium associations by instructing the H.U.D. Secretary to streamline the recertification process, decrease the owner-occupied requirement (currently 50%) to 35%, and allow more flexibility with regard to the commercial component of mixed use condominium projects.
▶H.R. 1301, the “Amateur Radio Parity Act”, seeks to protect “ham” radio operator usage by limiting the right of common interest communities to ban the antennae or place limitations on such equipment. The idea is that in times of emergency, an amateur radio operator can be very helpful in facilitating communications. However, if a private community did not wish to allow large and unsightly antennae in their community, this proposed law would prevent the community from doing so. While the benefits of amateur radio are relevant, so also are the property rights of a community to determine what they will accept.
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