It’s that time of year when we start to see holiday decorations. Yes, the stores have begun displaying Halloween items along with Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and other holiday decorations at the same time. As we start to see the orange mini-lights for Halloween, condominium associations and property owner associations begin to deal with the issue of whether holiday decorations are permissible and if so, how long can they be displayed. Although when we read these stories, we may think that homeowners are over-reacting to a small issue, but what looks like a celebration of Halloween to one owner may seem way over-the-top to another. Rules for holiday decorations need to take into account ALL owners to be fair, effective, and enforceable. This blog post provides some common-sense guidance for your community association regarding holiday decorations.
Originally posted 2010-09-28 06:26:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
In 2008, Virginia enacted legislation requiring condominium and property owners’ associations to establish reasonable procedures for resolving member and citizen complaints. The legislation further required the Common Interest Community Board (the “CICB”) to establish regulations for the associations to govern the complaint process.
What does this mean for your association? You will need to establish, or amend, your written procedures to comply with the regulations.
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 2011-08-09 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 2012-04-23 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 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.
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.
Originally posted 2014-03-31 10:30:07. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
This blog post focuses on addressing one major source of discontent in community associations: due process hearings for alleged violations of the community’s governing documents or condominium instruments.
Homeowners want fairness
Complaints about HOA due process hearings can be split into at least three different categories:
- Before the hearing, the Board
- did not attempt to settle reasonably;
- did not explain variance procedure; or
- did not properly send notice of violation or opportunity to cure.
- During the hearing,
- The Board was disorganized;
- A Board member was rude;
- The Board was not prepared for the hearing;
- The Board did not give owner time to gather/present case; or
- The Board did not view property/alleged violation.
- After the hearing,
- The Board did not give valid reasons for decision; or
- The penalty was unreasonable.
Originally posted 2010-09-06 09:37:24. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Yes, Virginia, property owners’ associations and condominium associations are required to have a reserve study. At least once every five years an association must obtain a study to determine the necessity and amount of reserves (i.e. financial savings) required to repair, replace and restore capital components. Capital components are those items, regardless of whether they are part of the common area or common elements, for which a) the association has an obligation to repair, replace or restore, and for which b) the board or executive organ determines that funding is necessary.
Originally posted 2013-02-18 12:36:35. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Have you ever asked yourself after an Association board meeting “what went wrong?” The flow of the meeting was off, the meeting went on way too long and the atmosphere was unwelcoming for the owners who came to observe. With some careful preparation and attention to some simple tips, you can leave your next board meeting with the feeling that everything was right on track. Although we go into much greater detail when we hold our annual Board training seminars for our clients, this blog post provides some helpful tips to run your next board meeting.