For the last several years I have been honored to serve as one of SEVA-CAI’s Delegates to the Virginia Legislative Action Committee (VALAC).  The VALAC does important work in educating legislators about the needs of community associations and in helping to craft or block legislation which affects those community associations.  The process begins each year in the Fall and the most significant work ends in the Spring, with new laws slated for implementation on July 1 of each year.  This year the VALAC started by evaluating hundreds of bills to see what would impact our constituency and then narrowed our focus to 134 bills, the majority of which we viewed as an unreasonable interference with the rights of community associations and which were subsequently withdrawn or defeated.  Significant among the defeated bills were those which would have (1) removed licensing requirements for community association managers (which have been in place for only a few years), (2) permitted the imposition of criminal penalties for violations of the Condominium Act by community associations (among others) and (3) established the right of political candidates to engage in campaign activities on condominium property.

A summary of the new laws which will be taking effect is provided below.

Last month we posted a summary of other new laws in Virginia to be effective on July 1, 2019.


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WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW CAN HURT YOU!

The Virginia General Assembly has wrapped up another busy year so it’s time to take stock of what new laws and changes to existing laws will affect community associations.  All board members and association managers need to be aware of these new and revised laws in order to avoid the legal pitfalls of doings things “the way we always have” instead of the way the new laws require it to be done.  All of these new or revised laws have been passed by both the Virginia House and Senate, have been signed by the Governor, and will go into effect on July 1, 2019.  We will break the changes down into several categories and send you the “need to know” information in several installments over the next couple of months.  In this issue we will discuss resale disclosure changes and child care businesses in HOAs.
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COME JOIN US AT CA DAY ON MARCH 9

We hope the new year is going well for you all.  We are looking forward to the Southeastern Virginia Chapter of CAI’s annual Community Associations Day which will be held on March 9, 2019 from 7:30 to 4:30 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.  Our CA Team will be there in full force. Mike Inman will be speaking on a new and unique topic – dealing with municipalities on such things as condemnation of property, rezoning of neighboring property, storm water management and enforcement of ordinances. Jeanne Lauer will be hosting a discussion on “Influencing Legislation that Impacts Your Community and the Importance of VALAC” (the Virginia Legislative Action Committee).  Greg Montero will be hosting a round table discuss on “Almost Free Legal Advice.”  Also, as usual, we will have our booth to give us a chance to greet you.  We hope to see you there. Information on the event can be found at www.cadayvirginia.com.

WHY DOES MY CONDOMINIUM NEED FHA CERTIFICATION

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans currently account for a large percentage of the available financing options for condominium units in today’s market.  Other than VA loans (which are only available to active or retired military), FHA loans offer one of the lowest down payments and interest rates available which makes them attractive to a lot of new buyers and current owners who wish to refinance.
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It seems like we have to say this every year, but the Virginia General Assembly was very busy again this session making amendments to the content and fee structures for condominium and homeowner association disclosure requirements.  These changes are significant so we wanted to give association boards and managers time to prepare before these changes go into effect on July 1, 2018.

House Bill 923 focused first on the disclosure form provided by the Common Interest Community (CIC) Board and made significant additions.  It now must contain the following statements to alert buyers to certain aspects of ownership in a community association even though some of these items will not apply in every community: 
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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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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.


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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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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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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.


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Just before the summer recess, in an amazing moment of bipartisanship, both houses of Congress voted unanimously to change the required percentage of owner occupancy in condominiums from 50% to 35% (unless FHA can prove that a higher percentage is justified within 90 day of this legislation becoming law on July 29, 2016) and made several other helpful changes. They are as follows: 


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