Posts by Susan Tarley:
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
Originally posted 2013-04-23 08:00:11. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Susan Tarley answered a question that was published in the March/April 2013 issue of the Common Ground, the Community Association Institute’s Magazine for Community Association Leaders. Here is the question and answer.
Our bylaws state that no reimbursement shall be given for services rendered by any board member unless voted and agreed on amongst the board members. I am a board member, and our association president has submitted bills totaling more than $600 to our management company without board approval and has been paid. A review of the past years minutes indicate no such vote was taken. We feel the president has his own monetary agenda and does not care about our community. I understand we can file a petition with 67% of the unit owners signing to have him removed, but we just want our money. What can we do?
Part 1 on Virginia’s Unauthorized Practice of Law Rules and Community Associations – Where do we find guidance?November 12th, 2013
Originally posted 2012-12-20 07:31:25. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Mention the unauthorized practice of law when discussing homeowner and condominium associations and typically the room gets very quiet. Associations, board members and managers strive to keep their budgets low, but compliance with new laws and regulations, keeping up with the collection of assessments, and the upswing in litigation involving homeowner and condominium associations makes it very difficult. When matters become a “legal issue,” board members and managers are best advised to seek legal counsel to ensure that the association is being adequately protected and represented, and that the board members and the managers are not engaging in activities that the Commonwealth might find to be the unauthorized practice of law.
We previously blogged on questions of the unauthorized practice of law when an unlicensed attorney serves on the association’s Board of Directors. In our next two blogs, we will review other issues involving questions of the unauthorized practice of law. In this blog, we discuss where we look for guidance, and in a subsequent blog, we will review Virginia decisions and opinions on the unauthorized practice of law.
Originally posted 2010-09-22 05:35:58. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
The Common Interest Community Board (the “CICB”) revoked a management company’s license for regulatory violations. In a case reported in the September issue of the Community Associations Institute Law Reporter (Virginia Common Interest Community Board v. Sarraga t/a Lakeside Community Management, File No. 2010-00562, June 24, 2010), the CICB revoked the license of Sarraga t/aLakeside Community Management and issued fines totaling $2,000.
Originally posted 2011-07-05 09:05:23. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Flying the flag is an important way that Americans celebrate their liberty and the sacrifices of past and present heroes who defend it. There were news stories about a dispute between an Ohio homeowners’ association and a Vietnam veteran over a flagpole that brought an important issue to the forefront.
In Ohio, a homeowner erected a large flagpole on his property to fly the flag. The homeowners’ association told him that the flagpole (not the flag) violated the declaration of covenants for the neighborhood, and asked him to take the flagpole down. It offered to place flagpoles in common areas in the neighborhood, and suggested that the covenants would allow him to fly a flag on a pole attached to his house. He refused. After a firestorm of publicity, the HOA averted litigation by permitting the homeowner to keep his flagpole. The underlying question remains: can a homeowners’ association really prohibit an owner from flying the American Flag?
Part 2 on Virginia’s Unauthorized Practice of Law Rules and Community Associations – What is considered the unauthorized practice of law?November 12th, 2013
Originally posted 2013-01-08 07:00:01. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
We blogged previously about finding guidance in Virginia’s rules on the unauthorized practice of law as they pertain to community associations. In this post, we will review Virginia opinions that address whether certain work performed by managers is the unauthorized practice of law (“UPL”).
Originally posted 2011-01-11 11:11:51. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
For your homeowners association, here’s a simple, but effective and invaluable checklist of suggested resolutions to improve the Board of Directors in your community association.
- Set-up your board of director orientation with Tarley Robinson, PLC. This service is provided at no charge to our clients. We will send out a an email and letter to schedule an orientation shortly after your board of director elections. Email us to make sure you are on our mailing list.
- Review your documents with your manager and attorney, or if self-managed, with your board and attorney, to determine whether you are operating in compliance with your documents and whether your documents comply with the law.
- Encourage civility, applaud the good deeds of neighbors and provide solid leadership. Remember that you are part of a community.
- Schedule an appointment with your insurance agent to review your current policies. Confirm that your policies comply with any insurance requirements in your documents. Find out if you should change your deductibles. Determine if you are paying the best price.
- Implement your Complaint Policy and Copying Policy. You are required to have them.
- Conduct efficient and effective board meetings. Spend some time working on the processes and procedures for your board meetings. Seek input from your board members, manager and attorney.
- Follow the legislation affecting community associations. The Virginia Legislative Action Committee will be working hard to review proposed legislation and determine its impact on community associations. Updates will be posted at http://www.cai-valac.org/
- Review your Reserve Study. Virginia law request annual review of your Reserve Study. If you do not have a Reserve Study to review, resolve to obtain one. It is the law.
- Conduct a risk assessment relative to safety and the use of your Common Areas or Common Elements. Follow-up with appropriate action, be it implementing safety rules, repairing an unsafe area or item, or posting a warning sign.
- Attend seminars provided by CAI. The Central Virginia Chapter Community Association Day, for example, is a daylong event that includes some great educational opportunities.
Tarley Robinson, PLC, Attorneys and Counsellors at Law
Benefits of Community Associations Part 1: Are Community Associations really as bad as some portray?November 12th, 2013
Originally posted 2011-07-26 08:30:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Community Associations have been the subject of a lot of bad press lately. An Associated Press article is typical of news reports that lambast associations. The article tells about a 55-and-older condo complex in Florida. According to the article, units in the Inlet House condo complex used to be worth $79,000, but sold for as little as $3,000 after rats started chewing through toilet seats and sewage started leaking from the ceiling. The article goes on to vilify the condo association for levying a $6,000 special assessment on residents and then foreclosing on owners who don’t pay their dues.
In its eagerness to blame the condo association for the woes of these senior citizens, the article and many blogs pointing out the “abuses of HOAs” miss an important point: the association may be the only group really looking out for the interests of the owners. Let’s look at what the article does not allege: it does not allege that the Association was responsible for the rat infestation or the sewage leak and it does not allege that the Association could have prevented the housing meltdown that contributed to the decline in property values.
Originally posted 2012-04-23 08:15:23. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
The Virginia Code has provisions that provide members of condominium associations and homeowner associations with the ability to request copies of books and records. The statutes have also permitted associations to recover the costs of copying the requested books and records.
This blog post highlights a new statutory provision affecting common interest communities. On July 1, 2012, HOAs and condo associations will only be able to recover these copying costs if the association has adopted a cost schedule.
Originally posted 2011-10-11 08:45:38. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
In other posts we have discussed a homeowner association’s governing documents. Many communities were established 20-40 years ago with governing documents that worked well for the developer, and for the most part the community association. However, many of these governing documents are outdated. Virginia and federal laws pertaining to community associations have changed substantially. If your board of directors has not engaged in an audit of your communities governing documents in the past 5-7 years, it should.
What is an “audit” of our governing documents?
An “audit” of your documents is an in-depth review by your HOA’s board of directors in conjunction with your association attorney. The Board reviews each document noting any sections that lack clarity, are no longer enforced, appear to not apply to your community, protect a long-gone developer, or do not provide the association with adequate remedies. The Board prepares a list of concerns or issues facing the community, such as homes that are not being maintained, large amounts of delinquent assessments, or enforcement capabilities of the association. The Board provides this information to the association attorney.