NEW VIRGINIA LAW REGARDING REAL ESTATE FOR SALE SIGNS

There seems to be some confusion about this new addition to the resale provisions in the Condominium Act and the Property Owners Association Act. As of July 1, 2017 there is a new Virginia law, passage of which was promoted by the Virginia Association of Realtors, which will impact unit owners and lot owners in nearly all community associations as to “For Sale” signs. (No other types of signs, like “For Rent” signs, are covered by these new laws.).

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Fair Housing Act - Emotional Support Animals

 

Revock v. Cowpet Bay West Condominium Association

Third Circuit Court of Appeals, 2017

A very instructive case was decided last month in a Federal Appeals Court which will demonstrate almost everything not to do with respect to compliance with the Fair Housing Act relative to emotional support animals. This case dealt with a suit brought by two emotionally disabled unit owners in a condominium community that had a no pet rule. The association had no policy regarding service animals or emotional support animals. The residents seeking approval of their dogs provided appropriate paperwork supporting their need for the dogs.  Certain residents were upset by the violation of the no pet rule expressing their views on strongly worded and insulting blog postings and called for these violators to be fined.

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NEW FHA OWNER OCCUPANCY REQUIREMENTS COULD BENEFIT SOME CONDOMINIUM COMMUNITIES

A few months ago we informed you that both houses of Congress voted unanimously to pass the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act (HOTMA) which, in part, required FHA to lower the required percentage of owner occupied units in condominiums from 50% to 35% unless FHA could prove that a higher percentage of owner occupancy was justified. 

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NEW LAWS FOR COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2015

By: Jeanne S. Lauer, Esq.

 

The Virginia General Assembly and the Governor have agreed on several changes to the Condominium Act and the Property Owners Association Act (POAA). As a member of the CAI Virginia Legislative Action Committee I want to let you know about these changes of which you should be aware:

 

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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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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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Revising your Rules and Regs? Keep it Simple!

Often associations review their rules when they want to make some change or addition, but it is best to review all the rules at least every 5 years because a few things do change periodically in the make-up and needs of every community.  So here are some guidelines for your review that might prove useful to you:

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Nonstock Corporation Act

We are all familiar with the Condominium Act and the Property Owners Association Act but how often do we think about the Nonstock Corporation Act? Most of our Associations were formed as nonstock corporations so when we are looking at whether there is compliance with the law, we need to be aware of this Chapter of the Virginia Code.

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Mandate from the Legislature-Complaint Procedure

QUESTION: 

I understand that at this time all associations are required to have a complaint procedure in place in order for their members to be able to let the CIC Board know of issues they have with their association. I also know that the Annual Report form requires an Association to state whether or not it has a complaint procedure. What is the consequence if an association fails to comply after getting the DPOR’s letter about non-compliance when they have checked “no” on the Annual Report?

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FHA CONDOMINIUM FINANCING UPDATE

As you may be aware we have obtained FHA Project Approval for a number of condominium communities. Some have not been able to submit applications because they were unable to meet all the criteria imposed by FHA.

We are pleased to report that recently we got word that finally FHA has relented on several of the troublesome application issues that CAI and others have been working on. FHA modified the Certification so that the signer no longer certifies that they will advise FHA of any changes in circumstances that would disqualify the project after approval. FHA substituted “to the best of my knowledge” at the appropriate spot where it used to be unqualified.  The penalty for false statements remains. It has been and remains my opinion that proof of intent or gross negligence would be required. Enforcement would be rare, as you can well imagine, given the shortage of resources available to pursue such in the great scheme of things….probably way behind Medicare fraud.  This was a great breakthrough achieved primarily by the relentless pursuit of it by the Government Affairs Office of the Community Associations Institute.

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Condominium Unit Financing

 

We all know that these are troubling times for sales of condominium units. The slow sales market for condominiums is further compounded by the fact that available financing options for condominiums have virtually disappeared over the last several years. When owners are unable to sell their units the result is often foreclosure and/or bankruptcy; which, in turn, results in lost assessments that most likely will never be recovered by the association. Lost assessments can often result in special assessments for the remaining unit owners or routine maintenance and capital improvements being delayed. You have no doubt spent countless hours and association resources trying to collect these assessments.

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