If you can't get a critical amendment passed there is relief in court

Due to some shepherding of this bill by CAI’s Virginia Legislative Action Committee, as of July 1 you can get help from the Circuit Court if you have made a good faith attempt (3 times) to get a critical amendment passed without success. The statute details exactly what must be done to achieve the amendment.  We hate to say it but you really need to read this statute as it lays out exactly how and when it works.  Here it is:

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Help your new owners and board with welcome packets

 

Just because new owners have received a disclosure packet  when they signed a purchase contract doesn't mean they read it. A welcome packet is a way to be sure your new owners are educated about their Association, especially amenities, benefits and rules. An owner who is educated is one who will most likely comply. If an owner does not understand a rule he has a chance to inquire before becoming a violator. Here are some suggestions for the content of a welcome packet:

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What does the term "member in good standing" mean in association documents?

We are often asked if an owner can be prevented from voting when the association declaration or bylaws state that an owner who is not in good standing may not vote or that their vote will not be counted.  Most board members and managers think this means that an owner who is delinquent in his payment of assessments cannot vote. Without further definition in the documents this is a correct interpretation.  Some people think that it also means that if an owner has been found in violation of the covenants or rules and has not cured the violation or paid a charge made after a due process hearing that the owner cannot vote.  Unless the documents specifically provide for such we believe that “not in good standing” is limited to delinquency in the payment of assessments. 

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News from the Virginia General Assembly and CAI's Virginia Legislative Action Committee

 

Below are a host of new laws that will become effective on July 1, 2014.  There are some significant new items and we urge you to read closely.  Mike Inman serves on the Virginia Legislative Action Committee and can answer any questions you might have about the bills. 

Late Fees- HB 566

 

HB 566 amends the Virginia Condominium Act (§55-79.83) and the Property Owners’ Association Act (§55-513.3) (the “POAA”) by clarifying that associations can charge a late fee as provided in the governing documents, and if not provided for in the governing documents, the association can charge a late fee not to exceed 5%.

 

Compliance with Declaration- HB 530

 

HB 530 amends the Virginia Condominium Act (§55-79.53A) by adding the following language:  This section shall not preclude an action against the unit owners’ association and authorizes the recovery, by the prevailing party in any such action, of reasonable attorney fees, costs expended in the matter, and interest on the judgment as provided in § 8.01-382 in such actions.


Merger; Judicial Reformation of Declaration- HB 690

 

HB 690 amends the Virginia Condominium Act (§55-79.71:2) by providing condominiums with the ability to merge two or more condominiums. It also amends both the Condominium Act (§55-79.73:2) and the POAA (§55-515.2:1) by permitting associations to petition the circuit court to make changes to a declaration. 

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Animals and the Fair Housing Act

 

There is often confusion about when animals must be accommodated when owned by a handicapped owner who applies for an exception to a pet rule.

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, and disability.

The FHA makes it unlawful for a person to refuse "to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford such person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.

"Handicap" is defined as: "a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person's major life activities."

 

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Is your condominium approved for FHA financing?

Many local condominiums are not approved or are about to expire.  We provide advice and application preparation with respect to FHA project approvals.  Condominiums must get certified/approved every two years.  There is no fee charged by the FHA.  The boards of every condominium in which FHA loans are a likely source of financing owe it to their owners to seek this approval as it is a significant benefit to all owners in terms of value and sales of units…..just ask a real estate agent.

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Executive Session - Getting it right

We have found that there is frequently confusion about how to go into and come out of an executive session (aka closed session) of the board of directors.  The governing statutes are Section 55-79.75 (C) of the Virginia Condominium Act and Section 55-510.1 (C) of the Virginia Property Owners Association Act. A motion must be made, seconded, voted on and passed proposing to go into executive session for one of the purposes set forth in the statute which are as follows:      

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Members of the Community Associations Law Team will be speaking at CAI's Annual Legislative and Legal update in May and June

This year’s Update will be held on the following dates:  May 2, May 9, and June 3.   The June program is on a Saturday intended for homeowners. Heather Gillespie, the Ombudsman for Community Associations for the State, will be speaking at that session. The half-day programs will include the following topics: Legislative and Case Law Update; The latest in Enforcement Issues and Rule-Making Authority; Board Confidentiality in a World of Transparency; Voting-Evolving Trends in Membership Elections and Authority for Corporate Actions. 

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Document/Financial Requests

Q:      We are a self managed association and members often ask for copies of records such as financial data and minutes of meetings. Often they ask for minutes before they are approved. One request is for our contract with the landscaper. We don’t feel that all these requests are appropriate. 

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Executive Sessions - a frequently misused procedure

In the course of dealing with a myriad of issues that arise in association governance one of the most misunderstood and misapplied statutes is the one that provides for executive sessions which are sessions of the board of directors closed to other members. The rules of the road for executive session are spelled out in the statutes in both the Condominium Act and the Property Owner's Association Act. We believe that a couple of reasons the procedure is not utilized correctly is that it is technical, not easily located and adherence to the requirements is sometimes inconvenient. So at the outset of this article we want to quote the statutory provision that applies. It is as follows:

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