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Just named a director on your new condo board? Better get busy

I have just been elected president of our new condominium. Our new board of directors has just taken over from the developer, but frankly we are at a loss as to where and how to go. Any suggestions?     Read

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Why you should look carefully at an HOA’s plans for that community before buying a home there

Q: My wife and I made an offer on a property in a self-managed Virginia community of single-family homes. Our offer hinged, in part, on the sales agent’s assurance that maintenance of the community’s private roads was totally covered by

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How your neighbor’s Airbnb rental can affect your property values

Q:  I’ve been scouring the Internet (without success), looking for data regarding whether short-term rentals (STRs, e.g., Airbnb, HomeAway, etc.) increase or decrease property values in the areas around them, as well as whether home buyers are more likely to

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In a crisis, condo board needs its own attorney

My sister and her husband own a condo in a development where a deck recently collapsed. The resident on the deck suffered a broken back. Now there is conflicting information about what repairs need to be made to all the

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How to handle your downstairs condo neighbor who complains about your noisy footsteps

Our covenants, conditions and restrictions for our association state that all units above the first floor must be carpeted, with the exception of the kitchen and bathroom areas. It then goes on to say that large rugs that cover the

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Tips for a season of safe grilling

Barbecue season heats up in earnest this holiday weekend and keeping the grill clean is just one safety issue to consider.  The National Fire Protection Association recommends periodically removing grease or fat buildup from grills and trays below the grill.

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Home associations need to have their dog rules in order

Q:  My condominium association is overrun with dogs. We are concerned that someone will be injured and we will be sued because we did not impose the proper precautions. What should we do?     Read the Q&A……………

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Time for delinquent condo owner to ‘man up’

Q: I own a condo that was bought during the fever of the hot real estate market in mid-2000s. For various reasons, I immediately found out there was no chance I was going to be able to pay the mortgage

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Washington (DC) condo builder reaps sales with grow closets for pot

Hirshfield was careful, per his lawyer’s instructions, to label his closet a grow closet and not a marijuana grow closet. When he staged the condo for sale, he used tomato plants as props in the closet.    Read the article…………

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Amnesty for D.C. condo buildings with out-of-date registrations ends Feb. 29

To legally transact business here, a business or association based in the District must register with DCRA. Once registered, the entity must file a status report every two years. Additionally, most businesses are required to obtain a “basic business license.”

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When it’s condo board v. delinquent owner: The legal options for both sides (DC)

If you’re a member of a condo board and an owner falls behind on his association fees, what legal options do you have?  On the other hand, if you’re the owner, what recourse do you have if the board opts

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When window replacement is condo owner’s responsibility

Q:  I own a large condominium. Our building is very old (it was erected in the 1920s). Our windows need to be replaced. We have leaks and cold air coming into our units. However, according to our legal documents, the

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DC Condo Asks Tenants to Snitch on Neighbors If They’re Smoking Pot

A DC condo in Chevy Chase is telling its tenants that they can’t smoke pot in their homes and that they need to tell them if their neighbors are smoking weed, according to a report by Washingtonian magazine.   Read the

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Residents displaced after DC condo fire

Residents of an upscale condo building on U Street are displaced after a two-alarm fire earlier Friday, which some people first thought was a false alarm.  The fire broke out Friday morning in the courtyard of the Lincoln Condominium on

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Seeking condo restrictions on marijuana users isn’t blowing smoke

In your recent Q&A about smelling marijuana smoke in a development where he lives, the writer says, “… it still stinks up the whole block.” That is utter nonsense. Dogs can smell “green” marijuana plants from hundreds of feet away;

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What’s wrong with D.C. condo owner bill of rights?

D.C. Council members are studying a controversial measure that would provide new protections for homeowners who are facing foreclosure by condominium associations for failure to pay monthly fees.    Read the article………

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‘Know Before You Owe’ rules could delay condominium closings by weeks (DC/MD)

Residential real estate has changed as of this month. New contract forms exist for Maryland and the District, and new mortgage disclosure rules issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) are now in effect.    Read the article………..

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DC: Proposed Laws Challenge the Airbnb Model

Vincent Orange, Councilmember of the D.C. Counsel has introduced two bills that would directly challenge the Airbnb business model.  The “Short Term Rental Regulation and Housing Protection Amendment Act of 2015” would establish a Special Enforcement Division with DCRA to

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When is it time for developer to cede control of condo board to homeowners?

I recently saw your article regarding condominium reserve fund requirements and was wondering if you could possibly advise our complex resident/owners on what to do when you have completely inadequate homeowners association (HOA) reserves.    Read the Q&A…………….

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What happens when your rental is being converted into a condo?

Do you live in an apartment building that is going to be converted to a condominium? If so, are you at risk of being evicted? Or is this your unanticipated chance to finally become a homeowner?  Many cities where land

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How should condos regulate legal pot use?

Usually the questions directed to you are about legal problems such as smoking laws and homeowners associations, and the association usually wins.  But what will be the outcome on legal marijuana? Pot stinks just a badly as cigarettes. If it’s

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How to enforce lease restrictions in a condo building

Q: I am president of my association for a nine-unit condominium building. We have a limit to the number of units that can be leased in the building. The approach is somewhat liberal in that we allow four of nine

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Papal visit and Airbnb: A temptation for Washington condo owners

Pope Francis will be in Washington on Sept. 23. Millions of people will come to see and hear him. Where will they stay?  Back in 2009, anticipating the multitude that would turn out to be part of the history made

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Condo wars: How a water leak turned into a $30 million lawsuit (DC)

It started with a leak, just a little water on a hallway floor.  That led to questions about bathtub installation, then sprinkler issues and finally allegations of improper fireproofing. Now all the residents of 3303 Water St. NW have to

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Residents to Leave Water Street Condos for Repairs

Residents of a high-end, 72-unit building on the Georgetown waterfront will be moving out temporarily for repairs to a structure just over ten years old.  With a lawsuit settled between owners of units in the condominium building at 3303 Water

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Liens filed by community associations can make lenders leery about loans

Could some of the nearly 67 million Americans who live in communities governed by homeowner associations — condominiums, master-planned developments, cooperatives and others — face much tougher underwriting and higher interest rates when they apply for a mortgage?    Read

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How much authority do HOAs have over pool rules?

Are posted pool rules enforceable if their content is not written in the HOA rules, regulations or bylaws?  In general, the answer should be yes. Pool rules should be enforceable even if they are not written into HOA rules.  

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New laws (MD/DC) next year mandate bicycle storage, training for board officials

If you are a member of a community association board of directors in Montgomery County, as of January 2016 you will be required to take basic training within 90 days after being elected.  And if you live in an apartment

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D.C. man can’t smoke in own home due to temporary, precedent-setting court order

Under D.C.’s new law, anyone can smoke pot in their home. But a temporary decision by a Superior Court judge means one man in the District can’t light up anything at his home—including pot and cigarettes. The 7 On Your

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Private police carry guns and make arrests, and their ranks are swelling

Michael Youlen stopped a driver in a Manassas apartment complex on a recent night and wrote the man a ticket for driving on a suspended license. With a badge on his chest and a gun on his hip, Youlen gave

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Northern Va. HOA Protests Man’s Van With Patriotic Tribute

Alan Bennett lost a brother in the Vietnam War, and has since dedicated his life to the non-profit “Wreaths Across America;” laying wreaths at the graves of service members nationwide.     Read more……….

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Olney (MD) condo residents struggle without heat

They’re working to restore it, but for a day — in this cold — dozens of residents of an Olney condominium are without heat.     Read more……….

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The sound of children playing bothers some Columbia Heights (DC) residents

Some condo residents in Columbia Heights want to dismantle the playground for the preschool in their building because, they say, the children make too much noise.    Read more………

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How liable are condo board members for bad decisions?

What exactly is the “business judgment rule?” I have a problem with my condominium board, and the condo attorney keeps referring to this as a defense. Can you explain?     Read more………

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Cases illustrate importance of condo buyers’ due diligence

Did you know that if you bought a new condominium in the District, you can sue the developer if the unit wasn’t in the good condition you expected it to be even if it wasn’t the one selling it?  

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Unpaid bills cause water to be shut off for residents at DC condo building

Dozens of D.C. residents are without water. They can’t shower or even flush their toilets. DC Water cut off service to their condo building on Monday after the condo owners failed to pay thousands of dollars in overdue bills.  

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DC planners want to limit row houses from becoming condos

In neighborhoods like Mount Pleasant and Columbia Heights, people have been converting row houses to 3- and 4-unit condo buildings. Should zoning stop this practice? It would under a new proposal from the DC Office of Planning, but not all

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Security Detail for Fed Chairwoman Irks Neighbors (DC)

In the Georgetown gated community of Hillandale, residents live in secluded calm governed by some 50 pages of rules banning fences, motorcycles, certain paint colors, tree species and excess dogs and cats (no more than two total per household).  

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Condo infrastructure often overlooked by potential buyers

During his house hunt, social media consultant Jonathan Rick discovered what he thought was the perfect condominium in Arlington. The new building offered a pool, a gym and a concierge and was within walking distance of stores and Metrorail. The

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As Reston turns 50, founder Robert Simon looks ahead, celebrates his own milestone

In the beginning, there were 6,750 acres of trees, fields, and cows — and a self-described “Jewish guy from Manhattan” with a yellow legal pad, trying to figure out what to do with this large chunk of land that he

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When condo bylaws prohibit bike parking (DC)

The bylaws of older condominium associations often hinder the ability for communities to evolve as the needs of residents change. Some condo associations grapple with this issue as more residents start to ride bicycles.    Read more…….

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Ward 8 (DC) condo values drop over $100,000 and no one is talking about it

I can’t stress enough how much it pains me to write these editorials. If I had a magic wand I would wish that Ward 8 issues were considered DC’s issues. The disconnect and lack of awareness just seems so vast.

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Help! Illegal dumping is costing my HOA $2k in fines from DPW! (DC)

I understand you have a job to do and I appreciate your efforts to keep our DC streets and alleys clean. I even respect the trash enforcement team and the job they do. Trash breeds rats and lord knows I

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