How long should your HOA retain its records?

April 8, 2014 on 8:44 am | In Common Interest Community, HOA, HOA litigation, Susan B. Tarley, Unit Owners Association | No Comments

You are elected Secretary of your homeowners’ association. Congratulations! Someone hands you the minute book, owner roster, and the governing documents. You think, hey this is not overwhelming at all. Then the retiring Secretary mentions in passing that “If you’re home tomorrow I’ll deliver the boxes.” You ask “What boxes?” “Oh, all of the HOA’s records are boxed up and have been in my garage – I’ll bring them by,” replies the retiring Secretary.

What do you do with the boxes? What records and documents do HOAs need to keep? How long do you need to keep them? How should they be stored? This blog post provides some basic guidance on best practice tips for community association record retention.

HOA Filing Information

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Okay, how do we establish a funding plan for our HOA’s Reserves? (Part 2 of a 3 part series on Reserves)

March 31, 2014 on 10:30 am | In Common Interest Community, HOA, Susan B. Tarley | No Comments

Originally posted 2010-09-08 07:35:29. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

 

Once an association has obtained a reserve study, two questions arise: 1) Do we have to fund a reserve account?   and 2) If so, how do we fund a reserve account?

The statutes for condominiums and property owners associations require an association’s budget to include, among other things, an annual amount to fund the reserve account that is consistent with the obligations in the reserve study.  This means that an association should be placing funds into the reserve account that permits it to meet is obligations to repair, replace and restore capital components based on the estimated replacement cost, the estimated remaining life and the estimated useful life of the capital component.

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HOAs and Management Companies – Does your contract say what you think it says?

March 31, 2014 on 10:30 am | In General Interest, HOA, HOA litigation, John Tarley, Unit Owners Association | No Comments

Originally posted 2011-10-05 08:45:36. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Many boards of directors for community associations engage management companies to help the board operate their community. These relationships arise from written contracts negotiated by the parties. It is essential that homeowners’ associations and management companies have their contracts reviewed by their experienced HOA attorney.

When determining the terms of a contract, Virginia courts employ what is known as the “plain meaning” doctrine. This doctrine basically means that when an agreement is clear, a court will look to the ordinary meaning of the words of the contract itself. Consequently, the parties need to ensure that all of the terms they believe are part of an agreement are in the written contract itself.

A recent Virginia Supreme Court case presents a prime example of why it is important to have your association attorney review contracts between community associations and management companies. Continue reading “HOAs and Management Companies – Does your contract say what you think it says?”

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HOA Litigation: Is it avoidable?

March 31, 2014 on 10:30 am | In Common Interest Community, HOA, HOA litigation, John Tarley, Mediation, Unit Owners Association | No Comments

Originally posted 2013-09-03 09:26:10. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

We have written previously on the costs—both in time and money—for homeowners and condominium associations to litigate cases. On one hand, boards of directors have a fiduciary duty to uphold the governing documents of associations, but on the other, the board must investigate alternatives to the divisive nature of litigation.

As it turns out, sometimes there is no alternative because a homeowner can sue an HOA, forcing the association to defend. But what efforts can or should a homeowners or condo association take to avoid the consequences of litigation?

A series of recent Virginia cases highlights the consequences associations can face in litigation cases. This blog posts provides a brief summary of those cases and some cautionary advice.

Williamsburg Virginia Business and HOA Lawyers

Board of Directors Meeting

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Caveat Emptor and a Buyer’s Duty to Investigate Real Estate Purchase

March 31, 2014 on 10:30 am | In Construction litigation, General Interest, Real Estate Litigation, State & Federal Litigation | No Comments

Originally posted 2012-06-21 08:00:20. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

We blogged about a Charlottesville Circuit Court case in which the court analyzed the duty to disclose for a seller of residential real estate.  We wrote another post regarding that case discussing an exception to the rule of caveat emptor. Specifically, if the seller attempted to “divert” the purchaser’s attention away from problem areas, a court could find fraud and rescind the contract.

However, in Virginia, if a prospective home purchaser discovers information alerting him to a potential problem, that person is charged with knowledge he would have found had he diligently pursued the inquiry. That rule was highlighted in an unpublished opinion released by the Virginia Supreme Court. This blog post reviews the facts of that case and the lessons to learn for real estate sellers and buyers.

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Why you should have a buy-sell agreement with your business partners

March 31, 2014 on 10:30 am | In Business Planning, John Tarley, Merger & Acquisition | No Comments

Originally posted 2011-04-19 09:00:02. Republished by Blog Post Promoter


As we have previously noted, if businesses are analogous to marriages, then the start-up of businesses begins with the “honeymoon” stage in which the business partners believe that they have similar visions of the company’s rosy future. Things change.

The list of “things that change” is long including the death, retirement or disability of your business partner; you or your business partner wanting to sell your interest in the company; or one of you wanting to add another business partner. What do you do then? Continue reading “Why you should have a buy-sell agreement with your business partners”

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HOAs, ADA, and FHA: regulating “Service or Assistance Animals”

March 31, 2014 on 10:30 am | In General Interest, HOA, HOA litigation, Susan B. Tarley, Unit Owners Association | No Comments

Originally posted 2011-04-28 08:55:53. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Recent amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”) regulations limit the definition of “service animal” to any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. The amendments specify that providing “emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks” under the new definition.

On the other hand, if your situation is not an ADA issue but rather a Fair Housing issue, a recent memo clarifies that the new definition is not applicable to the Fair Housing Act (the “FHA”). The FHA does not contain a specific definition of “service animal.” Under the FHA, animals that provide emotional support have, in certain instances, been recognized as necessary assistance animals as a reasonable accommodation. The FHA permits individuals with disabilities to keep an assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation when there are limitations imposed by the homeowner or condominium association on animals and pets.


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What Does It Mean to be on the Board of Directors of your HOA? Potential Liability (Part 2 of a Series)

March 31, 2014 on 10:30 am | In Common Interest Community, General Interest, HOA, State & Federal Litigation, Susan B. Tarley | No Comments

Originally posted 2010-10-27 08:19:06. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

We frequently are asked whether volunteer board members can be civilly liable for actions taken while a board member. This issue is of serious concern because lawsuits tend to be over inclusive, naming every possible defendant in the initial complaint. Why sign up as a volunteer board member if it could bankrupt you?

 

 

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Has your business been paid with a check endorsed as “Payment in Full?”

March 31, 2014 on 10:30 am | In Business Law, John Tarley, State & Federal Litigation | No Comments

Originally posted 2013-03-20 08:52:53. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Many of us have been paid by a check that includes the written endorsement of “payment in full.” By this endorsement, the maker (writer of the check) intends to settle any dispute once the payee (recipient of the check) deposits the check. The payee worries that by depositing the check, he is waiving any right to demand full payment for the service or supply provided. This blog post addresses Virginia law and each party’s rights with respect to the endorsement of “payment in full.”

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Attorneys’ Fees and Litigation – When fees get awarded to the “Prevailing Party”

March 31, 2014 on 10:30 am | In Common Interest Community, Construction litigation, HOA, HOA litigation, John Tarley, Mediation, Real Estate Litigation, State & Federal Litigation, Unit Owners Association | No Comments

Originally posted 2012-10-17 07:45:47. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

In litigation matters involving common interest communities (otherwise known as homeowners associations (“HOAs”) or condominium owners associations (“condo associations”)), the issue of awarding attorneys’ fees for prevailing parties ultimately arises. Generally, the HOA’s Governing Documents or the condo association’s Condominium Instruments contain such a provision. Otherwise, attorneys’ fees may be recoverable by statute for HOAs and condo associations.

These attorney fee-shifting provisions, either by contract or statute, are contrary to the typical “American Rule” cases in which each side pays their own attorneys’ fees. Because litigation has become so expensive to pursue, whether to award attorneys’ fees, and the amount of any award, has become separate litigation on its own at the conclusion of cases.

In the recent case of Dewberry & Davis, Inc. v. C3NS, Inc., the Virginia Supreme Court was faced with the issue of “whether the circuit court erred in applying an attorneys’ fees provision of a contract.” We had previously blogged about this case, because in the underlying contract between the parties, Dewberry & Davis, an engineering company, had limited its liability for damages. The trial court had determined the limitation of liability clause was void, pointing to a recent change to Virginia Code § 54.1-411that permitted an engineering company to include a limitation of liability clause. Because the contract predated the code change, the court determined that those changes “demonstrate that the General Assembly fully intended to alter the statute’s intent.”

The case continued to trial, and eventually, upon appeal, to the Virginia Supreme Court. This blog post explains that Supreme Court decision relating to the award of attorneys’ fees.

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