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.
Originally posted 2010-09-09 06:33:34. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Although Virginia law does not address who can perform a reserve study, it is clearly in the best interest of an association to hire a credentialed professional to conduct a reserve study for the community. Professionals who provide reserve studies include licensed Professional Engineers (PE), Architects (AIA and/or RA) and experts such as a Reserve Specialist (RS) or Professional Reserve Analyst (PRA).
Originally posted 2011-02-07 13:54:56. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Clients sometimes come to us with disputes regarding real estate litigation matters involving boundary line and easement encroachments. We provide legal advice and counsel, trying to balance your real estate rights with neighborly harmony, always looking to avoid a lawsuit when possible.
Easements provide a broad range of legal rights and obligations. In a fairly recent Virginia Supreme Court case, Snead v. C&S Properties Holding Company, a landowner blocked access to a validly recorded easement. The easement holder filed a lawsuit, asking the court to order the obstruction removed. The Virginia Supreme Court ordered the fence removed, concluding that “a significant portion of the easement would be rendered unusable for ingress and egress if injunctive relief were denied.”
Originally posted 2013-04-30 08:07:08. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Once again, my friend and colleague, Richmond Construction Law attorney Chris Hill, permitted me the opportunity to blog at his award-winning blog Construction Law Musings. You can get a lot of great information on construction law, including the intricacies of mechanic’s liens, from Chris and his blog. You can also follow him on Twitter, @ConstructionLaw.
For Chris’ blog, we wrote a post exploring the Olde Belhaven case that made it into the national media. Our take is that we must remember that HOA Governing Documents are drafted by counsel for the developers, and when the developers leave, the enforcement of those restrictions is left to the volunteer Boards of Directors of your neighborhood.
Here’s a brief excerpt of the post:
A recent case highlights what happens when an Association’s Board of Directors, trying to uphold its fiduciary duty by enforcing and upholding its governing documents goes head to head with homeowners, both believing that they are in the right. . . .
Our experience is that the volunteer Boards of Directors, when faced with tough choices, try to make decisions consistent with their fiduciary duties, in an attempt to protect the rights of all the owners in the neighborhood. That doesn’t mean they always make the right decisions, but these ordinary people are not ogres, either.
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.
Originally posted 2013-02-04 08:00:58. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
When water leaks from one condominium into another, determining the responsible party is usually not too difficult. But what about when the hazard isn’t water, but bed bugs, parasitic insects of the cimicid family that feed exclusively on blood and often take up residence nearby or inside of beds, bedding and/or other sleep areas, who is responsible then? This blog post will review some of the issues regarding condos and bedbugs.
Okay, how do we establish a funding plan for our HOA’s Reserves? (Part 2 of a 3 part series on Reserves)
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.
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.
What Does It Mean to be on the Board of Directors of your HOA? Potential Liability (Part 2 of a Series)
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?
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.