VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL ISSUES OPINION ON

The Virginia Attorney General can issue opinions concerning statutory interpretation if requested to do so by an array of government officials from the Governor to a member of the Senate or House of Delegates to a local sheriff. These opinions are not binding on a judge but are persuasive when considering the law affecting a given case. In this case a member of the General Assembly asked: Is it legal under the Virginia Property Owners' Association Act (the "Act") for an association ("POA") to deactivate a member's barcode decal if he or she is more than sixty days late paying an assessment. Deactivation of the barcode decal will restrict, but not completely deny, entry in to the neighborhood due to the existence of two access points, one manned and one not.

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Protections for Victims of Harassment in Housing

 

HUD PROPOSES RULE TO CLARIFY PROTECTIONS FOR VICTIMS OF
HARASSMENT IN HOUSING

Rule would formalize standards for bringing harassment claims under the Fair Housing Act


WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it is issuing a proposed rule that would formalize standards for victims of harassment in housing to bring claims under the Fair Housing Act. The proposed rule, "Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Environment Harassment and Liability for Discriminatory Housing Practices under the Fair Housing Act," was published in the Federal Register today for public comment.

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Virginia Supreme Court nullifies declaration amendment on technicality

On February 12, 2016, in Tvardek v. Powhatan Village HOA, the Virginia Supreme Court struck down a leasing amendment established by a homeowners association in Virginia as a result of the failure of the recorded amendment to contain what the Court deemed compliance with the statute on amendment of the Declaration.  Virginia Code Section 55-515.1 of the Property Homeowners Association Act requires the certification on the amendment to be ”signed by the principal officer of the association or by such other officer or officers as the declaration may specify that the requisite majority of the lot owners signed the amendment or ratifications thereof.”  In this case the amendment signed by the principal officer stated:

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DOCUMENT MAINTENANCE - DO YOU HAVE ALL OF YOUR ASSOCIATION'S GOVERNING DOCUMENTS?

As association attorneys we are in need of the governing documents in order to answer questions posed by the board or the manager.  Frequently we have those documents in that association’s file if we regularly represent that association.  We do need to keep up to date on any changes in the rules and regulations or architectural guidelines which may be made without our input or review.  Of course, we do believe it is a good investment for associations to allow us to review proposed rule or guideline changes before implementing to insure enforceability.  

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The Fair Housing Act and Your Community Pool

 

[This article is an excerpt from an article written by Mike Hunter for the

Charlotte Observer. We believe it contains some very helpful information and suggestions]

“Most swimming pools have a list of rules posted somewhere on the premises. We’ve all seen them. The rules contain common sense prohibitions against dangerous pool activities, such as having glass in the pool area and diving into the shallow end.

And almost every set of pool rules contains a statement similar to this: ‘No one under the age of 18 may use the pool unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.’ It makes sense, right?

According to a 2012 federal court opinion from California (Iniestra v. Cliff Warren Investments), a pool rule requiring adult supervision of children violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) because it discriminated against families with children.

In explaining its opinion, the federal court found the rule requiring adult supervision to not make perfect sense if its goal was to ensure the safety of all swimmers. The court noted that the Iniestra children, who were competent swimmers, were not allowed in the pool facility without a parent, but yet adults who never swam a day in their life could use the pool facility without supervision. Also illogical was that a certified lifeguard who was under 18 could not use the pool without the presence of a parent or guardian.

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Finally - a new law that helps Associations when foreclosures occur - House Bill 2080.

 

The General Assembly finally heard the hue and cry from us about lenders abuse of associations in the foreclosure process. Unfortunately this new statute does not fully end the abuse. The key word in the title above is “occur”. The first benefit of the new law is that Lenders must now give associations notice at least 60 days in advance of initiating foreclosure.  How does this help us?

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Spring Projects Create Work For This Architectural Standards Committee. Are You Ready?

Q.       It is springtime and a few creative and industrious neighbors are out erecting fences and sheds as others have done in the past without requesting the permission of the Association. We are a 24 home association that recently elected a homeowner board. The developer finished the last home in late fall. We are self-managing and are not sure what to do about enforcing our covenants. We have a provision that requires that any structures or exterior modifications have to be approved by the Board of Directors but the homeowners aren't asking permission.

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HOUSE BILL 2100 - WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR YOUR ASSOCIATION'S FEES, CHARGES AND RENTAL RESTRICTIONS?

There is a short summary statement about this bill being circulated that is very misleading. House Bill 2100 awaits the Governor’s signature; once signed it will go into effect on July 1, 2015.  This 11 page bill contains amendments which affect the Condominium Act and the Property Owners Association Act.  The Condo Act amendments are covered first.  This bill contains a new code section for both Acts which covers charges (fees) by associations – in essence, nearly all fees and charges must be provided for in the governing documents (declaration or bylaws)  or permitted by another statute. 

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GO SLOW: CHILDREN AT PLAY

 

March 2015 - The U.S. Department of Justice announced settlement of a Fair Housing violation case against a Community Association and its Management.  In addition to requiring a revamped set of Rules, the offenders must pay a $10,000 penalty to the United States and pay $100,000 to six families that suffered as a result of the discrimination.

The Complaint filed in 2013 alleged that the enactment and enforcement of a facially neutral Common Areas Rule was discriminatory. The rule provided that:

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