Stop in the name of the…homeowner association! – Can private HOA security forces pull you over?

November 11, 2014 on 7:56 am | In Common Interest Community, General Interest, HOA, HOA litigation, John Tarley, Unit Owners Association | No Comments

Virginia’s Attorney General, Mark R. Herring, published an advisory opinion concerning private security forces used by community associations (the “Opinion”). These security forces often act as quasi-police departments and help relieve localities by providing routine patrols in private communities. In the Williamsburg area, the local police often defer to HOA security forces for regular patrols, and health and safety checks. When it comes to more serious police action, like issuing traffic tickets and arresting homeowners, the roles and authority of HOA security forces becomes less clear. This blog post discusses the role of private security forces in homeowners’ associations and the Opinion that addresses some of these concerns.

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Homeowner cannot be forced to join a voluntary HOA

October 30, 2014 on 12:19 pm | In Common Interest Community, HOA, John Tarley, Real Estate Strategies, State & Federal Litigation | No Comments

Originally posted 2010-09-23 05:35:17. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

In a case from the Chesterfield Circuit Court, the circuit court judge determined that a homeowner could not be forced to pay association dues to a voluntary association. This result is not surprising.


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A New Twist on Identity Theft and Fraud: How can Realtors, Lenders, Title Companies and Law Firms Protect Your Clients and Yourselves?

October 30, 2014 on 12:19 pm | In General Interest, Real Estate Litigation, Real Estate Strategies, State & Federal Litigation, Susan B. Tarley | No Comments

Originally posted 2014-06-30 09:40:20. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

A case out of Virginia Beach underscores the deviousness of those who engage in identity theft. As reported in Virginia Lawyers Weekly, Guy Gugliotta owned two lots in Virginia Beach. A local realty company maintained contact with Gugliotta via mail in case he was interested in selling the lots. In 2012 someone purporting to be Gugliotta notified the tax assessors office to change the mailing address for tax bills. Then they notified the realty company that they had decided to sell the lots. The lots were listed for sale and in August, a purchaser made an offer.

The seller documents were handled via mail with the fraudulent seller executing documents in Florida and sending them to the closing agent. Deeds to transfer property require that the seller’s signature be notarized so surely this was the end of the road for the fraudster.

But no, not only did the thief take the identity of the owner; he also took the identity of a notary public in Florida. The notary public declared under oath that it was not his signature and that he had never notarized the documents.

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When is it unlawful for a business to terminate an employee?

October 30, 2014 on 12:19 pm | In Business Planning, Jason Howell, Merger & Acquisition, Neal J. Robinson, State & Federal Litigation | No Comments

Originally posted 2011-07-12 08:30:35. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The short answer is, rarely. Virginia is an at-will employment state. This means that an employer can discharge an employee for any reason or for no reason at all, just not for an unlawful reason. An employer who terminates an employee for an unlawful reason may be liable to the employee. The question answer in this blog post is: when is a reason unlawful?

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Unauthorized Practice of Law: When unlicensed attorneys serve as HOA board members

October 30, 2014 on 12:19 pm | In Common Interest Community, General Interest, HOA, HOA litigation, Merger & Acquisition, Real Estate Strategies, Susan B. Tarley | No Comments

Originally posted 2010-12-02 06:55:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

An article in the Virginia Gazette featured a story regarding the indictment of a local attorney for the unauthorized practice of law; a criminal charge classified as a class 1 misdemeanor. Although those allegations did not involve a homeowner association, it highlights a recurring issue for volunteer boards of directors for many organizations including homeowner associations and not-for-profit organizations on which attorneys serve. This article focuses on those issues facing boards for homeowner associations (“HOAs”) but the issues are similar for other volunteer boards of directors.

 

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General Partnerships, The Way To Go . . . Financially Under

October 30, 2014 on 12:19 pm | In Business Planning, Merger & Acquisition, Neal J. Robinson | No Comments

Originally posted 2010-06-18 12:30:24. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

 

Though the majority of businesses in the United States are sole proprietorships, those of you who read an earlier post know that I recommend, for a myriad of good reasons, that an entity of some kind be placed between a person doing business and the rest of the world. Find an experienced business attorney to help establish your business entity.

In this post, I address briefly the general partnership form of business entity, the only form I consider more dangerous to the financial health of an individual than the sole proprietorship.  Why, you ask?  Because with the sole proprietorship, the sole proprietor is personally liable for the acts of the sole proprietor, the business and the business employees.  In the general partnership, the partners are personally liable for the acts of the business, the employees and each other.  What partners do can be fairly unpredictable, like contracting to purchase or lease things that cannot possibly be paid for out of the profits of the business, or like contracting to do that which cannot possibly be done profitably.

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Virginia Attorney General opinion on HOAs

October 30, 2014 on 12:19 pm | In Common Interest Community, HOA, HOA litigation, John Tarley, Real Estate Litigation, Real Estate Strategies, Unit Owners Association | No Comments

Originally posted 2013-01-28 07:00:39. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

In Virginia homeowner associations, the governing documents permit a developer to continue control of the HOA’s Board of Directors for a specific period of time, or until a specific number of lots are sold. The length of that period depends upon the governing documents of each association.

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This issue has generated litigation in Williamsburg, and now, thanks to Peter Vieth from Virginia Lawyer’s Weekly, we have learned of a formal opinion from the Virginia Attorney General. In an opinion dated January 11, 2013, the AG answered two questions posed by Virginia Senator Bryce E. Reeves. This blog post takes a look at that opinion.

Is the Property Owners Association Act Unconstitutional?

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Emails from work computer can waive rights to privileged communications

October 30, 2014 on 12:19 pm | In Business Planning, Construction litigation, General Interest, HOA litigation, John Tarley, Real Estate Litigation | No Comments

Originally posted 2011-04-13 17:44:17. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

We have written on the issues that arise when employees use their work computer for personal business. In that blog article, we referred to a California case in which an appellate court ruled that an employee’s emails to her attorney were not protected by the attorney-client privilege because the company had a written policy that informed employees that computers were not to be used for personal matters, that emails could be monitored to ensure that employees complied with the policy, and that employees should not expect any privacy in the use of their computers.

In local news, former Delegate Phil Hamilton raised a “marital privilege” objection to the use at trial of emails he sent to his wife. Certain communications to and from a spouse can be protected from disclosure. There were complicating factors to this case’s analysis.

 

Email

 

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Mediation and Arbitration – There is a big difference

October 30, 2014 on 12:19 pm | In Business Planning, General Interest, HOA litigation, John Tarley, Real Estate Litigation, Real Estate Strategies, State & Federal Litigation | No Comments

Originally posted 2011-02-28 11:57:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

In conversations with clients, it seems that people misuse the terms “mediation” and “arbitration” more than most other legal terms. Although I do not have any empirical data, my educated guess is that many businesses and construction contractors (who did not depend upon advice given by an experienced business attorney) insert “arbitration” clauses into their contracts thinking that they mean “mediation.” Some transactions involving the sale of real estate include an arbitration clause. Countless times, clients involved in a potential lawsuit point to the “arbitration” clause, and are disheartened when I explain to them the arbitration process. Many thought they were avoiding the potential high costs of litigation. These terms are NOT interchangeable and in this blog post I will explain the basic differences between them.

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Small Business Break-Ups – The High Cost of Litigating a Forced Separation

October 30, 2014 on 12:19 pm | In Business Planning, John Tarley, State & Federal Litigation | No Comments

Originally posted 2012-04-30 08:00:35. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

A recent Virginia Supreme Court Case, Cattano v. Bragg, illustrates two points we have made time and time again: 1) Make sure your small business is prepared for an eventual “divorce” between the shareholders; and 2) Litigation is very, very expensive.

In this blog post we will review the Supreme Court’s decision and provide some tips for your small business so that you can avoid the calamity that occurred in this case, which included an attorneys’ fee award of over $260,000 for the prevailing party.

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