We’ve posted articles in the past about the importance of associations maintaining adequate reserves for the repair and replacement of the capital components in their communities that the association has the duty to maintain, repair and replace.  Section 55.1-1965 of the Virginia Condominium Act and Section 55.1-1826 of the Virginia Property Owners Association (POA) Act both require that associations conduct a reserve study every five (5) years.  Both Acts also require that the Board of Directors review the reserve study on an annual basis to determine if the association is collecting adequate reserves in the annual budget to make sure funds are available each time a capital component needs major repairs or replacement and to adjust the reserve budget annually if necessary. 
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Recently we posted the first of two parts about the changes in qualifications for FHA loans for condominiums. In this part we provide information on the rest of the changes.

 

REDUCTION IN OWNER OCCUPANCY REQUIREMENTS FOR ELIGIBLE PROJECTS

 

FHA’s primary motive for requiring that at least fifty percent (50%) of the units in a project be owner occupied or secondary residences is because it is statistically more likely that condominiums with a high percentage of rentals will have higher foreclosure and assessment delinquency rates than condominiums that are primarily owner occupied. It appears that FHA has settled on a compromise in order to avoid penalizing projects with higher rentals but lower delinquency rates.  FHA currently requires that no more than fifteen percent (15%) of the units can be sixty (60) days or more in arrears in the payment of assessments.  Effective October 15, if only ten percent (10%) or fewer owners are sixty (60) days or more in arrears, FHA will accept owner occupancy rates of only thirty five percent (35%).  This could be a significant boost for Hampton Roads.  We have seen many projects with strong financials rejected for FHA certification simply because of owner occupancy requirements.  Because of the high concentration of the military in our area, many condominium projects can have a higher percentage of rentals but still maintain low delinquency rates.

FHA has also expanded on what qualifies as an owner occupied or secondary residence which we believe will also help increase the rate of owner occupancy in some projects and take the guess work out of defining which units qualify as owner occupied and which do not.  These expanded definitions include {emphasis added}:

  • “any Unit that is occupied by the owner as his or her place of abode for any portion of the calendar year and that is not rented for a majority of the calendar year;
  • any Unit listed for sale, and not listed for rent, that was previously occupied by the owner as his or her place of abode for any portion of the calendar year and that is not rented for a majority of the calendar year; or
  • any Unit sold to an owner who intends to occupy the Unit as his or her place of abode for any portion of the calendar year and has no intent to rent the Unit for a majority of the calendar year.”

 
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According to a news release from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) several days ago, there are over 150,000 condominium projects in the United States, but “only 6.5 percent are approved to participate in FHA’s mortgage insurance programs.” In an effort to make Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans accessible to more prospective purchasers of condominium units and because HUD estimates that 84% of FHA-insured condominium unit buyers are first time homeowners, HUD has announced some pretty significant changes to FHA regulations.  These major changes will become effective on October 15, 2019 and include:
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ASSOCIATION DISCLOSURE NOTICES EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2019

 

A couple of months ago we told you about changes to the Property Owners Association (POA) Act and the Condominium Act regarding the Disclosure Notices.  We want to remind Association managers and board members that every association should now be using these revised Disclosure Notices.

Effective July 1, 2019 the Property Owners Disclosure Packet Notice prepared by the Virginia Common Interest Community (CIC) Board that is required to be included in every HOA Association Disclosure Packet for the initial sale by the developer and all subsequent resales pursuant to §55-509.5 of the Virginia Residential Disclosure Act was amended.  The Condominium Unit Owners’ Association Resale Certificate Notice that is required to be included in every condominium resale certificate pursuant to §55-79.97 was also amended.  Both Disclosure Notices now inform purchasers, under the section entitled “Assessments,” that mandatory fees collected by condominium associations may include the cost of “construction or maintenance of stormwater management facilities.”  
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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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