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Jeanne S. Lauer is a partner at Inman & Strickler focusing her practice in the areas of Civil Litigation, Community Association Law and Commercial Litigation.

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:Continue Reading GO SLOW: CHILDREN AT PLAY

Senate Bill 1008 awaits the Governor’s signature to proclaim a “bill of rights” for homeowners in condominiums and property owners associations.   The irony is that under “bill of rights” title on this new statute, there is nothing which changes or adds to the current statutory scheme for voting, accessing records, recording meetings or extending due

For years we have encouraged associations to consider colored paper for voting forms. It makes them easy to spot and provides additional security against claims of stuffing the ballot box. Having survived more than a few challenges, in and out of Court, to claims of invalid Amendments, the single most effective way to defend these cases is to be able to establish how the votes were cast.Continue Reading The Secret to Secret Ballots

Question

Our association just got started and has read through the VA HOA blog a lot!  It has been a big help to us!

I had a question about the legal responsibility of a HOA board to respond to its members.  We are a volunteer board, and there is one member of our community that is constantly sending emails (averaging 6 a day), certified letters, and posting inflammatory comments on Facebook and on our association home page.  He recently sent one email documenting the number of emails he had sent us that had gone unanswered.  He also attends board meetings and attempts to control the agenda and speak over the board, out of turn, and spending more than the allotted time on issues.  We are a board of 8 neighborhood volunteers.  With jobs, kids, and lives outside of the realm of the HOA, I just don’t understand how we possibly could respond to all of his emails.  Is there a legal requirement that we respond to every email he sends?  Or is there a legal guideline for determining which correspondence requires a response?  Also, how can a board effectively manage people who are disruptive at a meeting? What advice would you offer to an association that deals with one particularly time-consuming member?

AN UNPAID VOLUNTEER TRYING TO DO THE RIGHT THING

 Continue Reading Protecting the Community from Abusive Owners

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

For the average person, these words are usually harbingers of doom. But for common interest communities and the professionals associated with them, they are simply an annual chore. For a number of years the law has required residential condominiums and homeowners associations to file annually with the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation. Recent changes to the