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:
Just because new owners have received a disclosure packet when they signed a purchase contract doesn’t mean they read it. A welcome packet is a way to be sure your new owners are educated about their Association, especially amenities, benefits and rules. An owner who is educated is one who will most likely comply. If an owner does not understand a rule he has a chance to inquire before becoming a violator. Here are some suggestions for the content of a welcome packet:
Many local condominiums are not approved or are about to expire. We provide advice and application preparation with respect to FHA project approvals. Condominiums must get certified/approved every two years. There is no fee charged by the FHA. The boards of every condominium in which FHA loans are a likely source of financing owe it to their owners to seek this approval as it is a significant benefit to all owners in terms of value and sales of units…..just ask a real estate agent.
Recently we received the following question the answer to which could be helpful to many of you.
Q. Our condominium has a serious need for some renovation work on windows, doors and some balconies. It is going to cost around $3,000 a unit as best we can tell right now. One contractor we consulted said it was not urgent and that we could do it over a period of time. Another contractor indicated that he thought the deterioration would accelerate and we needed to do all the work right away. The Board is divided on which way to go, and right now we only have four Board members, and it is a 50/50 split. Our next election is September and we cannot agree on a new Board member either. We have been at this standoff for four months now, and we need to move ahead with some plans, but we do not seem to be able to do so. Do you have any suggestions?
Only a few years ago the Virginia General Assembly recognized that many association boards just would not face up to the need for reserves in an effort to keep “dues” at a lower and more competitive level. Many are paying a price for those decisions now. It became such a problem that several years ago the Virginia General Assembly passed a law requiring reserve studies every 5 years and an annual review of reserves by every board (see Section 55-79.83:1of the Condo Act and Section 55-514.1of the POA Act.).
Recently in a Fairfax County case involving the Shadowood Condominium Association the Court examined whether or not the board could assess charges against an owner for failing to submit a unit owner status report required by the Association and for violations of rules by the unit owner’s tenants. It appears that this association’s documents had not adopted the provisions provided in the Virginia Condominium Act authorizing the assessment of charges for rules violations. In fact the Master Deed provides that “no common expense or other sums shall be assessed….other than for the maintenance, repair, replacement or improvement of the general common elements….”
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?
Q: We are a self managed association and members often ask for copies of records such as financial data and minutes of meetings. Often they ask for minutes before they are approved. One request is for our contract with the landscaper. We don’t feel that all these requests are appropriate. What do we have to provide to our owners?
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
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.