Articles by Team Members

The recent Fourth Amendment to Governor Northam’s COVID related Executive Order, effective as of April 1, 2021, has updated the limitations for private in-person gatherings.  It states as follows:

All public and private in-person gatherings of more than 50 individuals indoors and 100 individuals outdoors are prohibited. A “gathering” includes, but is not limited to, parties, celebrations, or other social events, whether they occur indoors or outdoors. The presence in person of more than 50 individuals indoors, or 100 individuals outdoors, performing functions of their employment or assembled in an educational instructional setting is not a “gathering.” The presence of more than 50 individuals indoors, or 100 individuals outdoors, in a particular location, such as a park, or retail business is not a “gathering” as long as individuals do not congregate. This restriction does not apply to the gathering of family members, as defined in section I, subsection D, paragraph 2, living in the same residence. (emphasis added in various locations)
Continue Reading YET ANOTHER RULE MODIFICATION FROM GOVERNOR ON IN-PERSON MEETINGS

The recent Third Amendment to Governor Northam’s COVID related Executive Order has updated the limitations for private in-person gatherings.  It states as follows:

All public and private in-person gatherings of more than 10 individuals indoors and 25 individuals outdoors are prohibited. A “gathering” includes, but is not limited to, parties, celebrations, or other social events, whether they occur indoors or outdoors. The presence in person of more than 10 individuals indoors, or 25 individuals outdoors, performing functions of their employment or assembled in an educational instructional setting is not a “gathering.” The presence of more than 10 individuals indoors, or 25 individuals outdoors, in a particular location, such as a park, or retail business is not a “gathering” as long as individuals do not congregate. This restriction does not apply to the gathering of family members, as defined in section I, subsection D, paragraph 2, living in the same residence. (emphasis added in various locations)
Continue Reading NEW RULE FROM GOVERNOR ON IN-PERSON MEETINGS

Last Spring as part of emergency legislation the General Assembly authorized association boards of directors to meet virtually but did not include member meetings.  This has caused significant delays in elections and other important meetings requiring a membership vote.  I am pleased to report that new amendments, just signed by the Governor, will make life so much easier for all of us involved in community association governance.  The new legislation affects both the Property Owners Association Act and the Condominium Act but does not become effective until July 1, 2021.  In order to make the virtual meeting option available the amendments of several statutes approach the issue by allowing electronic communications unless the governing documents prohibit it.  This approach eliminates the need for document amendments in order to utilize electronic means.  That said, there are explicit requirements for the board to adopt guidelines for use of these more liberal forms of communication and voting to ensure that the rights of owners are protected in the process. Most governing documents do not address the topic of electronic communication and voting – especially ones not written recently.  Here are the important new “rules of the road” on use of technology with regard to meeting notices, assembly and voting – the italicized words are taken from the relevant statutes:
Continue Reading GENERAL ASSEMBLY MAKES VIRTUAL MEMBER MEETINGS LEGAL …. WITH CONDITIONS

We often get calls from new board members after transition from developer control. They have questions like this one: Some of the homeowners have added fences, above ground pools and sheds without getting approval from the Association. Many of these changes do not appear to meet the standards that are part of our documents. No action has been taken to correct these violations. How do we go about enforcing the covenants and rules?

The first step is to examine the architectural guidelines and the enforcement provisions in the governing documents. Usually an association’s declaration establishes a committee, often called the architectural standards committee, and grants it powers and duties.

There are often architectural guidelines in the nature of rules and regulations which detail the standards for the community and the procedures for enforcement. If these do not exist, the board of directors should pass a policy resolution that clarifies the standards in the association’s governing documents with greater detail and sets the procedures for enforcement.  This policy resolution is generally referred to as a “due process procedure.”

One of the most important reasons that these procedures need to be in place is that the actions of the committee are subject to review in any legal action in which the association may become involved. The more clearly the resolution defines the procedures and the more closely the committee adheres to them, the more likely they are to be successful if enforcement of a covenant or rule goes to court.
Continue Reading “OUR NEW BOARD JUST INHERITED A HOST OF OLD VIOLATIONS – WHAT SHOULD WE DO? “

As a result of superb effort of CAI’s Virginia Legislative Action Committee and its lobbyist Virginia common interest community associations will benefit from amendments to laws proposed by Governor Ralph S. Northam. These changes, adopted by the General Assembly on April 22, 2020, override requirements in the Virginia Property Owners’ Association Act and Virginia Condominium Act which require at least two board members be physically present in the same location in order to convene a meeting properly.
Continue Reading NEW RULES FOR BOARD MEETINGS DURING COVID-19 DECLARED STATE OF EMERGENCY

Like any other business, community associations are often faced with delinquent owners seeking bankruptcy protection. In fact, as of May 2018, over 9,800 bankruptcies have been filed in Virginia alone.  As such, community associations should be aware of the implications of being an unwilling bankruptcy creditor.

Types of Bankruptcies

 

The two most common types of bankruptcy that impact community associations are a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13.

Chapter 7:  Liquidation

 

The Chapter 7 bankruptcy is commonly referred to as the liquidating bankruptcy and is what most people think of when they hear the term “bankruptcy.” The idea behind a Chapter 7 is that the court assigns a third-party (a trustee) to review the debtor’s assets and exemptions and sell any non-exempt assets to pay the debtor’s debts. Unfortunately, Most of the time, that doesn’t actually happen. Most chapter 7 cases are “no-asset” cases, meaning there are no un-exempt assets for the trustees to sell. In a rare “asset” chapter 7 cases, the trustee will notice creditors by sending a letter asking for creditors to file “proofs of claim.” A proof of claim is a standard form that a creditor fills out listing the amount and type of debt. A proof of claim must also have “proof” attached detailing the basis of the debt. The trustee then classifies the types of debt and pays those debts based on their classification or priority until the funds are depleted. The end result is a chapter 7 discharge which wipes away all qualifying unsecured debt incurred prior to the debtor filing bankruptcy.  However, there are debts that survive a chapter 7 discharge including secured debt, priority debt, and non-dischargeable debt. The easy way for community associations to prevent loss of assessments to a chapter 7 discharge is to speak with an attorney as soon as an owner is 30 days delinquent.
Continue Reading When Delinquent Owners File a Bankruptcy – What now?

By: Lindsey Flaherty

What exactly is limited residential lodging?  It is, in essence, renting of rooms or entire homes or condo units for short term occupancy i.e. less than 30 days. Airbnb   provides a searchable online marketplace that enables homeowners to list for rent all or a portion of their homes and prospective customers can choose to rent from one night to several months.  While this type of rental may present a great economic opportunity for some homeowners it causes increased traffic and parking issues in associations and has resulted in excessive noise and damage to common areas.  Essentially the problem seems to be that homeowners who choose to participate in it are introducing a business in to residential neighborhoods. This business involves providing lodging to transient people who are primarily on vacation.


Continue Reading LIMITED RESIDENTIAL LODGING (e.g. Airbnb) – IS IT ALLOWED IN YOUR ASSOCIATION?

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:


Continue Reading Revising your Rules and Regs? Keep it Simple!

     Consider the situation where the Board of Directors has decided that they want to upgrade the appearance of an aging townhouse style condominium and they are talking about requiring all the unit owners to replace certain areas of vinyl siding with Hardiplank or similar high grade exterior product which is a much more expensive material. They are also going to require solid wood decorative shutters on some of the windows. The plan is to get bids, enter into a contract, and assess the owners because the association doesn’t have any money in reserve for this project. Some owners consider these improvements to be upgrades and say that the Board shouldn’t be able to require the owners to pay for upgrades as opposed to replacements.   This article can also apply to some degree to townhouse communities which are not condos but where the association has the responsibility to maintain the exteriors of dwelling units and common facilities.


Continue Reading What to do when the Board wants (or needs) to upgrade the condo exterior

With the federally mandated switch from analog to digital signals the interest in satellite dishes has increased. A brief refresher on the Rules is in order. OTARD, the acronym for Over the Air Reception Devices prohibits community associations from enacting restrictions that unreasonably impair the installation, maintenance, or use of antennas used to receive video programming.


Continue Reading Satellite Dishes: The Law Remains The Same