COVID 19 is raising new questions and concerns for all of our clients, especially community associations. While our office is currently open, we are prepared and equipped to function on a remote basis, so we will continue to be available to answer your questions and respond to your legal needs while fully respecting all important public health protocols. Continue Reading How to “Stay Legal” with COVID 19

Frequently there are misunderstandings about the right of owners to participate in both meetings of the board of the directors as well as meetings of the members. It is important that all members of an association understand the rules that apply so that they are not disappointed by the limitations that may apply to their participation.   Rules, imposed either by statute or the Bylaws, are needed in order to insure an orderly meeting and efficient consideration of the various agenda items. Continue Reading Member Participation at Meetings – There are Rules

What are the challenges facing a board of any association which has recently experienced significant board member turnover or has emerged developer control?  We have found that some of these prior boards have not been attentive to the area of enforcement of certain covenants. There are many challenges but one which requires prompt attention is architectural violations which have not been addressed by the prior board. Some homeowners have likely added fences, sheds, and other exterior improvements without getting approval from the Association.  Many of these addition and exterior improvements may not meet the standards that were part of their documents. The board has a duty to enforce covenants and rules. So, what can the new board do about these apparent violations? Continue Reading UNWANTED INHERITANCES FROM LAID BACK BOARDS

With the increasing popularity of security cameras and hi-tech doorbells and other systems, Virginia residents should be aware of a couple of criminal statutes that are implicated by the use of these technologies.

Virginia has a wiretapping statute which prohibits a person from capturing simultaneous audio and video recordings of someone without that person’s consent. The single best way to avoid violation of these statutes is to ensure that any video equipment you install does not have the capability of capturing any audio.  Yes, you could just employ a policy that you never activate or use the audio component but at some point, someone will succumb to the temptation to listen “just once.” VA Code §19.2-62. https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title19.2/chapter6/section19.2-62/  Continue Reading SECURITY CAMERAS AND DOORBELLS IN VIRGINIA

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.  Continue Reading THE CIC BOARD ISSUES GUIDELINES FOR THE PREPARATION OF ASSOCIATION RESERVE STUDIES

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.”

  Continue Reading FHA LOANS – MAJOR CHANGES REGARDING CONDOMINIUM QUALIFICATIONS – PART II EFFECTIVE OCTOBER 15, 2019

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: Continue Reading FHA LOANS – MAJOR CHANGES COMING IN OCTOBER REGARDING CONDOMINIUM QUALIFICATIONS

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.”   Continue Reading Updated Association Disclosure Notices and Repeal of Title 55, Code of Virginia

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.

Continue Reading 2019 VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY REPORT – (PART 2 OF 2)

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. Continue Reading 2019 Virginia General Assembly Update