Real Estate Law
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IF there is no definition of what an "immediate family member" is in the bylaws, then you could ask the board to define what that is and have the board spread among its minutes what this term means.
The association should have the authority to define this term.......the board may want to look up the definition in a recognized dictionary OR make up a reasonable limitation on its own.
While you can't prevent someone from suing, if there's no proof that the board is misapplying the rule, it would be tough for the member to prevail.....although the suit could force the association to establish a definition of what an immediate family member is.
It's likely best to amend the bylaws and provide the definition in there after following the proper procedure.
The board could simply adopt the definition accepted by the board.....but I'm sure your bylaws call for a certain procedure.
Once the amendment is made, a copy of the change should be sent to all members.
It's not going to apply retroactively......if there's no guidance or definition already in place. Instead, you're going to have to amend the bylaws and set a start date in the future.
As for costs, there's no law that says whether the winner gets his/her/it's coats paid by the loser or not (except in very limited situations where there's a statutory authority), so it's be up to the judge. But, most courts just allow each party to bear his/her/it's own costs.
If there's no definition of immediate family adopted, it's going to be hard to enforce anything until you get this changed. The reason is that there's been no ratification of the board decision until it goes through the hoops to become a part of the bylaws.
So, people can likely get away with this for a short time....until the bylaws are changed.
The only way a board or any body politic can speak is though its bylaws and minutes....and if a term is used without a definition of that term, then there's ambiguity that must be corrected.
There's really no generally recognized definition -- that I'm aware of -- for "immediate family".....it's not the same as if you were limiting things to a "spouse" or "parents" or "child/children", which are easily definable nouns without the need for a definition.
That's true, and you can adopt the definition of the board and base the amendment of the bylaw on that interpretation (as we discussed above).
But, it's harder to penalize people for something when there's never been a definition adopted.
Whether immediate family is a common definition is going to be up to a judge.....but I don't think it is very common. I've spent the last few minutes googling the definition and there's a different interpretation at just about every link you click.
I'm sorry that you don't believe I've been any help to you.....which I assume is because I didn't tell you what you wanted to hear. Trust me, in this type of format, it'd be much easier for me to tell you that you're right (or what you want to hear) and make you happy enough to pay me and move on, but it's more to it than that (at least for me). I want to tell you something that is honest as opposed to what you want to hear.
If you don't want to pay me, that's your business....but you should discuss this issue with your board and your board attorney (if you have one) and consider making the necessary changes.