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.
Benefits of Community Associations Part 1: Are Community Associations really as bad as some portray?
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 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 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 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?
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.
Originally posted 2012-06-05 08:00:04. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
We blogged about the extension granted by the Department of Justice for existing pools to comply with the new ADA Standards for providing accessible entry and exits. Just days after issuing its “Final Rule,” the Department of Justice published a fact information page with Questions and Answers regarding Accessibility Requirements for Existing Swimming Pools at Hotels and other Public Accommodations. The DOJ’s Q&A attempts to answer questions regarding whether your pool shall require accommodations. This blog post analyzes the Q&A.
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).