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 2011-10-05 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?”
Originally posted 2011-06-07 09:00:08. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
As summer begins and the temperature rises, people are eager to cool off in community pools. For homeowner’s associations and condominium associations, this can be an opportunity to encourage members behind in their assessments to get caught up.
Before an association starts suspending pool passes to encourage members to pay their dues, however, it should be aware of provisions in Virginia Law that affect what actions it can take. Both the Virginia Property Owners’ Association Act and the Virginia Condominium Act allow an association to suspend services (including use of common areas such as pools) for failure to pay assessments, as long as the association complies with certain requirements.
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 2011-10-11 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 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.
Does Virginia law require an HOA to transition automatically to homeowner control of the Board of Directors?
Originally posted 2011-06-28 09:17:54. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Over the course of the past few years, homeowners in the Williamsburg development of Kingsmill on the James have become more vocal over the continued control by the community’s developer, Busch Properties, Inc. In May 2010, Kingsmill resident and a William & Mary Law School professor filed a lawsuit against Busch Properties. On August 20, 2010, the Williamsburg/James City Circuit Court heard the demurrer filed by Busch Properties. The court granted the demurrer. The Plaintiff appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court. The Court declined to hear the appeal. The Plaintiff filed a petition for rehearing that the Court refused to hear by an order dated June 16, 2011.
Originally posted 2012-09-18 06:57:41. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Well, it’s that time of year when signs start popping up in neighborhoods as election day draws near. In neighborhoods governed by a homeowner or condominium association, boards of directors are sometimes asked to enforce sign restrictions when one neighbor complains about another’s political sign (and probably, the neighbor’s choice of candidate).
A person’s first response typically is “I have the right to free speech and you can’t stop me from posting my political sign on my property!” However, is that the end of the discussion? This blog post reviews a community association’s rights and responsibilities regarding political signs.
Originally posted 2011-06-08 09:00:26. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
It’s a fundamental rule in Virginia that the Plaintiff (the person filing a lawsuit) can only recover the relief requested in the Complaint. In a recent unpublished decision, the Virginia Supreme Court reaffirmed the requirement that a party can only get relief if they ask for it.
Originally posted 2011-02-28 11:57:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
In conversations with clients, it seems that people misuse the terms “mediation” and “arbitration” more than most other legal terms. Although I do not have any empirical data, my educated guess is that many businesses and construction contractors (who did not depend upon advice given by an experienced business attorney) insert “arbitration” clauses into their contracts thinking that they mean “mediation.” Some transactions involving the sale of real estate include an arbitration clause. Countless times, clients involved in a potential lawsuit point to the “arbitration” clause, and are disheartened when I explain to them the arbitration process. Many thought they were avoiding the potential high costs of litigation. These terms are NOT interchangeable and in this blog post I will explain the basic differences between them.