The Virginia Legislative Action Committee (“LAC”) had a busy 2013 legislative session. This is my third year on the LAC and each year brings new challenges. Our mission is to monitor and influence legislation affecting community associations. This year I served as the Chair of the LAC and we monitored over 30 bills and were active on over 10 of the bills. We were successful in getting some bills tabled, some modified, and some passed. All of the bills cited below are effective July 1, 2013 unless otherwise noted. If you have any questions on the impact of these changes for your community, please let us know.
Originally posted 2010-11-03 07:12:45. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
The DPOR regulations require Class A Contractors to obtain written change orders “which are signed by both the consumer and the licensee.” This requirement sounds pretty reasonable and easy to maintain, yet the reality is that many contractors fail to fully comply with this provision, leading to possible problems down the road.
Originally posted 2011-09-20 11:59:39. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
The Attorney-Client Privilege protects confidential communications between an attorney and his or her client. This privilege includes communications made to the attorney and communications from the attorney. The Attorney-Client Privilege is designed to encourage clients to communicate with their attorney freely, without fearing disclosure of those communications made in the course of representation. The Attorney-Client Privilege is important because it permits clients to give their attorney complete and uncensored information, enabling their attorney to provide informed and thorough legal advice.
For community associations, the Attorney-Client Privilege belongs to the association and can only be expressly waived by the a decision of the association board or executive organ. However, the privilege can be impliedly waived based on the client’s conduct. A determination on whether the privilege has been waived will depend on the specific facts of each case. The association will have to establish that the attorney-client relationship existed, that the communication is privileged, and that the privilege was not waived.
Here are four basic tips for the board of your Common Interest Community to follow so that it protects the association’s Attorney-Client Privilege:
Originally posted 2010-08-20 09:35:32. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
It may seem hard to believe, but there’s a chance you and your fellow members in your limited liability company may not always get along. In fact, the relationship may get to the point where the majority of the members in the LLC wants to expel a member. As Lee Corso says frequently on ESPN Gameday, “Not so fast, my friend.”
Originally posted 2012-05-21 09:00:08. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
We have blogged about new requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) that may affect Homeowners Associations and Condominium Associations that own swimming pools, wading pools, or spas. Subsequently, we updated our previous post to report upon an update to the required compliance date.
The Justice Department has now issued a “final rule” revising “the Department of Justice regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act to extend until January 31, 2013” as the compliance date for the ADA Standards for Accessible Design for existing pools and spas.
Consequently, if your HOA or Condo Association allows non-members of the association to use its pool in exchange for some form of compensation, your pool may fall under the definition of a public accommodation. If it does, the association would have to comply with the new ADA Standards and provide accessible entry and exits no later than January 31, 2013. What does that mean for your HOA?
Real Estate Listing Agreements for the sale of property: Are they enforceable even if not in writing?
Originally posted 2010-12-28 10:52:57. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Generally speaking a party can enforce an oral agreement. However, courts will not enforce certain contracts unless they are in writing. For example, under Virginia Code § 11-2, commonly known as the Statute of Frauds, an agreement or contract for services to be performed in the sale of real estate by a real estate broker or real estate sales person is not enforceable “[u]nless a promise, contract, agreement, representation, assurance, or ratification, or some memorandum or note thereof, is in writing and signed by the party to be charged or his agent . . . .”
Most real estate agents and brokers understand the importance of having written listing agreements with their sellers. However, a recent decision of the Supreme Court of Virginia points out that even in the absence of a written listing agreement, an oral listing contract may be enforceable if there is sufficient documentation to remove it from the bar to enforcement of the Statute of Frauds. The Virginia Supreme Court, in the case of C. Porter Vaughan, Inc., Realtors v. Most Reverend Francis X. DiLorenzo, Bishop of The Catholic Diocese of Richmond, 279 Va. 449, 689 S.E.2d 656 (2010), better defined what is meant by “sufficient documentation.”
Preserve your friendships when borrowing or lending with friends or family – Document your transactions
Originally posted 2012-11-19 08:13:25. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Many small businesses rely upon loans from friends and family for startup funds, for business expansions, or to support existing operations. Many times, these loans are made upon an oral agreement. As we have written previously, although oral agreements can be enforceable, without a writing, the terms of the agreements can be difficult to prove. In this blog post, we will describe other problems with informal lending transactions between family and friends.
In a study entitled “Lenders’ Blind Trust and Borrowers’ Blind Spots: A Descriptive Investigation of Personal Loans,” researchers outlined many of the difficulties of maintaining a lender-borrower relationship between friends and family. In many “informal” lending relationships, the borrowers and the lenders remember the transactions differently. This “self-serving bias” can lead to problems. For example, borrowers may believe that the “loan” was a “gift,” or although agreeing that the transaction was a “loan,” may believe they paid off the loan. On the other hand, the lenders may feel angry when the “loan” is not repaid, especially when the borrower never raises the issue of repayment.
The study documented these differences between borrowers and lenders:
Many borrowers thought the idea for the loan originated with the lender, not themselves, although the lenders thought otherwise;
Borrowers reported far fewer delinquent loans than lenders;
Borrowers were fairly confident they would eventually repay the loan, but lenders thought even one missed payment probably meant the loan would never be paid off;
Delinquent borrowers “are much more likely to report feeling guilty, and also strangely, relieved and happy. Lenders associated with delinquent loans, in contrast, are much more likely to report feeling angry.”
Even though banks are flush with cash to lend, you may not qualify for a loan, or the bank’s terms may be too onerous. Consequently, family and friends are natural sources of funds for startup funds or for operating capital. However, as the proverb says,”Before borrowing money from a friend, decide which you need most.” Therefore, if you must borrow from friends or family, it is a small price to pay to perserve your personal relationships to have your business attorney draft the appropriate loan documents, including a promissory note, so that everybody knows the expectations of the transaction. Taking this step at a relatively small price can save your friendships.
Tarley Robinson, PLC, Williamsburg, VA
Attorneys and Counsellors at Law
Originally posted 2010-06-29 00:57:15. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
The attorney-client privilege permits confidential communication between an attorney and her client. The objective is to encourage open communication, which permits an attorney to provide thorough, competent and complete advice. Generally speaking, only a client can waive the privilege, but as found by the Virginia Supreme Court in Walton v. Mid-Atlantic Spine Specialist, PC, et al., a client’s inadvertent disclosure of a privileged communication may operate as a waiver of the attorney-client privilege.
In this Williamsburg medical malpractice case, a defendant doctor wrote a letter to his attorney calling into question his medical diagnosis he gave to his patient. The doctor kept this letter in a separate notebook. During discovery the defendant medical practice used a third party service to copy document requests. The letter was provided inadvertently to the plaintiff.
Although the defendant claimed that he did not produce the letter or permit anyone else to produce the letter, the Court found that the defendant did not take adequate protection to protect the letter. The Court noted that the notebook in which the letter was found was not marked as confidential or privileged. Furthermore, the Court held that the client did not take prompt action following disclosure.
The Virginia Supreme Court considered five main factors in determining whether the inadvertent disclosure waived the client’s privilege. The Court looked at: (1) the reasonableness of the precautions to prevent inadvertent disclosures, (2) the time taken to rectify the error, (3) the scope of discovery, (4) the extent of the disclosure, and (5) whether the party asserting the claim of privilege or protection for the communication has used its unavailability for misleading or otherwise improper or overreaching purposes in the litigation making it unfair to allow the party to invoke confidentiality under the circumstances.
As a start, clients should maintain attorney-client privileged communications in a separate file or notebook and clearly mark the file or notebook and each communication as “CONFIDENTIAL-ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGED COMMUNICATION.” Then, if an inadvertent disclosure is made, the client should contact her attorney as soon as possible to determine a plan of action to restore the attorney-client privilege.
Tarley Robinson, PLC, Attorneys and Counsellors at Law
What does it mean to be on the Board of Directors of your HOA? Fiduciary Duties (Part 1 of a series)
Originally posted 2010-10-20 06:15:55. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Board members are told that they have fiduciary duties to the community association, but what does that really mean? Fiduciary duties arise because the members of the association entrust a board member to act in the best interest of the association when handling the association’s business.
There are three components that are important to understand fiduciary duty. First, the Virginia Code, at § 13.1-870, imposes on directors a requirement that a director exercise her duties in good faith and in the best interest of the association. This requirement is the so-called “business judgment” rule. Second, Virginia case law imposes duty of care that requires a board member to act as a reasonable person would under similar circumstances. Third, Virginia case law imposes a duty of loyalty that requires a board member to put the association before any personal interest. These last two duties are referred to as “common law” duties. Continue reading “What does it mean to be on the Board of Directors of your HOA? Fiduciary Duties (Part 1 of a series)”
Originally posted 2011-08-09 11:59:33. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
The enforcement of covenants, conditions, and restrictions (“CC&R’s”) is among the most criticized of the duties performed by the Board of Directors of community associations, but is also the most important responsibility. CC&R’s govern many activities in a community including house designs, parking regulations, maintenance and repair of the common areas, and collection of assessments. Sensational “Gotcha” type news stories highlight enforcement practices of some associations, which contribute to a false perception that associations in general lack common sense. However, studies repeatedly show that the overwhelming majority of people living in neighborhoods governed by HOAs believe that the rules in their communities benefit them.