Question: I live in a townhouse style condominium that is comprised primarily of young families and, consequently, we have quite a few dogs in the community. Our recorded Condominium Declaration states: “No more than two (2) pets shall be maintained per Unit. The Board of Directors may promulgate additional rules and regulations regarding pets.” Our Board of Directors has passed a board resolution changing the number of pets allowed per unit from two (2) pets to one (1) pet. My son is heartbroken that we will have to choose which one of our dogs we have to give away. Can board members just make up their own rules? Continue Reading Can Board Members Make New Rules and Change Old Ones?
If you own a single family home and your roof needs to be replaced, you either have to take money from savings or borrow the funds to pay for it. Either way, it’s your sole responsibility to replace your roof. But what if you own a condominium unit and the roof of your building needs to be replaced or the streets need to be repaved? What if you live in a homeowners association and the pool deck needs to be replaced? Don’t you expect all of the owners in the community to contribute to the costs and don’t you expect there to be enough money in “savings” to pay for it. Continue Reading Making the case for replacement reserves
The American Heritage Dictionary defines “fidelity” as “faithfulness to obligations, duties, or observances,” but what does fidelity mean to your association and why do you need fidelity insurance? Every association collecting assessments has one or more persons handling the financial obligations of the Association (collecting and depositing assessments and paying invoices). Every board member, management company employee or other individual handling an association’s funds has a fiduciary responsibility to handle those funds in a way that best benefits the association, but what if they don’t? Continue Reading What is Fidelity Insurance and why does my Association need it?
Since 2012, all associations have been required by Virginia law to have a complaint procedure in place so that owners have a way to submit written complaints to their association board of directors. The Common Interest Community Ombudsman Regulations provide specific ways in which associations must deal with owner complaints and time frames for responding to owner’s written complaints. These Regulations also provide a means for owners to submit certain complaints to the CIC Board Ombudsman when an association has either not responded to an owner’s complaint or the association has responded with a written determination that denies the corrective action sought by the owner (known as a “Final Adverse Decision”). Continue Reading WHEN CAN OWNERS SUBMIT A COMPLAINT TO THE COMMON INTEREST COMMUNITY (CIC) BOARD?
Leasing restrictions can be one of the most controversial and complicated matters in community association governance. Between statutory requirements, governing documents and VA/FHA regulations, how are Associations supposed to sort it all out, especially when there are often conflicts between them? Not to mention the fact that statutory and lender regulations seem to change just when you are starting to get use to the current requirements. The information below is meant to provide you with a general overview to help you determine if you are properly handling rentals in your association or wish to restrict them. But remember, it’s subject to change without much notice! Continue Reading Leasing Restrictions Dos and Don’ts
If there is one thing we seem to be able to count on from the Virginia General Assembly, its frequent amendments to the statutes regarding association resale certificates and 2017 was no exception.
Under the “News You Can Use” section of this site, Jeanne Lauer explained the new legislation regarding “For Sale” signs in condominium and homeowners associations which became effective July 1, 2017. That posting is a must read for anyone preparing resale certificates for an association because “For Sale” sign regulations in your Declaration (and/or Bylaws for a condominium) must be disclosed in association resale certificates. Unless you are familiar with the new “For Sale” sign statute regarding limitations on an association’s ability to regulate signs, you could easily disclosure incorrect information to prospective purchasers and that’s no way to get off to a good start with new members of the community.
Other changes affecting resale certificates that became effective July 1, 2017 are: (i) if an owner designates a licensed real estate agent as the unit owner’s representative in writing to the association, the association must recognize such representation without the requirement for a formal power of attorney; however, the representative will not have the right to vote on behalf of the owner without a valid proxy; and (2) the Common Interest Community (CIC) Board may now assess a monetary penalty to the association or the association’s common interest community manager (as the case may be) for failure to deliver the resale certificate within 14 days.
Section 55-79.97 of the Virginia Condominium Act and Section 55-509.4 of the Property Owners Association (POA) Act provide a complete list of the information and documentation required to be part of the resale certificate. It’s a prudent business practice to compare your resale certificate to the appropriate statute after July 1 of each year to make sure your association remains in compliance.
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.).
Inverse condemnation is valuable tool for property owners and associations and can be relevant and useful in many situations. State and local governments and their agencies appear to operate with absolute immunity leaving property owners with no recourse when private property is damaged by a government entity. While it is true that a government entity is generally free from liability for its negligent actions, the doctrine of inverse condemnation is a little known remedy available to property owners when their private property is damaged. This doctrine of inverse condemnation originates in Article I, Section II of the Virginia State Constitution. Under this doctrine, recovery is permitted when private property is taken or damaged for public use, thereby bestowing on the owner a right to sue for such amount as would have been awarded if the property had been condemned under the eminent domain statute.
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.
We frequently talk about the fact that homeowner association board members have a "fiduciary duty" to the members. What exactly is it? Is it spelled out in the law? What sort of actions would violate that duty?