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.
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?
Originally posted 2010-12-08 08:00:44. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Imagine if someone told Don Draper and Roger Sterling of Mad Men that they could no longer smoke in their apartments. They would look at you curiously, smirk and light up a cigarette. But Mad Men, the television show about a Madison Avenue advertising agency is set in 1965 and as the ad for Virginia Slims said, “[we’ve] come a long way, baby.” Almost half of all adults smoked in 1965 but that percentage has dropped to 22%.
The negative health effects have been documented and the reported adverse health effects caused by second-hand smoke has resulted in smoking bans in restaurants. One of the next areas in which smoking bans have been put in place is in condominium communities. Some of the smoking bans address common elements only but others have imposed a ban on smoking in the condominium unit.
Originally posted 2012-06-12 08:00:09. Republished by Blog Post PromoterOur Summer Associate for 2012 is Scott Foster, a rising second-year law student at the William & Mary Law School. Weeks before his undergraduate graduation from William & Mary, Scott became the first person ever elected to the Williamsburg City Council, while still a William & Mary student. Scott still serves on the City Council while attending law school and working for us. This blog post is Scott’s first for our firm.
While growing up in western Virginia, one of my favorite restaurants was in a converted train depot. On several occasions my parents walked me through the tobacco warehouses in Farmville, Virginia filled with fine furniture and rugs. There was even a bed and breakfast nearby with rooms in a grain silo. Although I did not realize it at the time, these businesses were examples of “adaptive reuse.”
Originally posted 2011-05-26 09:10:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
A short while ago we wrote a blog piece on the issues relating to community associations regulating service animals. In that blog we noted that the Fair Housing Act (“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.” In Broward County, Florida, that county’s Civil Rights Division filed suit against a condominium association for violating the FHA by refusing to consider a person’s request for an “emotional servant animal,” a chihuahua.
Originally posted 2011-01-25 09:00:35. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
It’s the beginning of a new year so let’s start with some basic nuts and bolts information regarding homeowners associations. We’ll begin this series of blog articles with a discussion of the phrase “Governing Documents” which is used by board members, managers and homeowners.
What are the Governing Documents? Continue reading “HOAs – What are your Governing Documents?”
Originally posted 2012-04-16 08:22:32. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
We wrote earlier about a Charlottesville case in which the court analyzed the duty to disclose for a seller of residential real estate. Although Virginia follows the general rule of caveat emptor, the court ruled that the seller, who was also a licensed real estate agent, may have violated a duty to disclose material adverse facts.
The purchasers alleged two other counts, alleging that the seller failed “to disclose the adjacent drain problems and history of flooding, constituting both fraudulent misrepresentation and constructive fraud.” The court dismissed those claims while providing a nice, succinct history of the law of fraud in the sale of a home. This blog post reviews the general rules of fraudulent misrepresentations in residential real estate sales.
Originally posted 2010-11-22 09:04:32. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
We have written previously on the litigation of homeowner association cases. Generally, homeowner associations can file a lawsuit in the General District courts to enforce collection of assessments.
However, If an HOA needs to enforce a covenant, seeking an injunction to require a homeowner to comply with the restrictive covenant, as of 2011, the HOA must file a lawsuit in the Circuit Court can now file a lawsuit in the General District Court, as well. Virginia Code sections 55-79.80:2, and 55-513 give jurisdiction for those matters to the General District Court. Those lawsuits can be expensive and time-consuming.
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
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?”