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Bankruptcy basics for community association boards of directors

Over the last decade, community associations (like other businesses) have been forced to navigate the “Great Recession” and continued recovery. The “Great Recession” brought with it a significant increase in the number of personal bankruptcy filings across the country. Even

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Good Collection Practices Protect Lifeblood of Community Associations

Assessments are the lifeblood of every community association. For most associations, it is the sole source of income to pay for common expenses. Therefore, having tools and good practices to maximize collection of assessments are vital not just to survive

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Fair Housing Act – Emotional Support Animals

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

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The keys to an effective (and civil) owners’ association meeting

What do Congress, the General Assembly and condo associations have in common? They all need rules and structure for running meetings where important decisions are made.  The stakes at the state and federal levels may seem higher than your owners’

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Fair housing and common interest communities

Compared to other types of housing, condominiums may seem a horse of another color, with their common-interest community assessments, shared facilities and governing association boards. Nonetheless, state and federal fair housing laws apply as much to condo owners, managers and

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Fiduciary Duty and Community Association Board Members

We frequently talk about the fact that homeowner association board members have a “fiduciary duty” to the members. What exactly is it? Is it spelled out in the law? What sort of actions would violate that duty?  A fiduciary duty

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Little Love Lost in Sedimental Affair

A lawsuit for damage to property must be timely filed to prevail in court. In Virginia, the statute of limitations for property damage is five years from accrual of the claim. When an owner suffers damage caused by a neighboring

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Airbnb and VRBO and your Home: Regulating The Shared Economy

The “Shared Economy”— where economic and social activity occurs directly between individuals with the help of an online format— is reshaping our national economy. Today we can easily monetize everyday assets, including your car and home, in ways that were

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Understanding resale by purchaser and the resale certificate

In previous COLUMNS we discussed several things that differentiate condo ownership from that of a single-family home. Some make condo ownership and living more convenient (and enjoyable), including the owner’s lack of lawn-maintenance responsibilities and, in many cases, the availability

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What’s left of Virginia’s HOA Open Meeting Policy?

Promoters of community associations tout them as “mini-democracies,” reflecting the American tradition of public participation in governmental activity on a local level. One hallmark of “representative government” is that constituents may openly observe and review what their elected officials are

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Check Your Privilege, HOA

The attorney-client privilege is frequently misunderstood in the community associations context. When many owners request information, sometimes their board, board’s attorney or property manager asserts the attorney-client privilege. This may seem to obstruct their attempts to assess their property rights

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Exploring how the “The Monthly Assessment” is determined

November’s column generated an interesting and challenging conversation with a reader about his condo’s monthly assessment and how it was determined. Specifically, that conversation related to the recent increase of 23 percent in the monthly assessment, the reason behind the

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Community Associations Countdown to Year-End!

The end of the year is approaching and before long we will be setting New Year’s resolutions for 2017. But before that new beginning, we need to wrap up 2016. For those associations whose year-end is December 31st there are

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New FHA Owner Occupancy Requirements Could Benefit Some Condo Communities

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

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Hartmann, et al v. Carriage Court II HOA (VA)

On October 20, 2016, the Virginia Supreme Court issued an unpublished opinion in Hartmann, et al. v. Carriage Court II Homeowners Association, Inc., finding no reversible error in the judgment of the Circuit Court of Montgomery County that association was

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Being Secretary of the Association Carries Significant Responsibilities

Questions often arise about the duties of the secretary in taking and producing minutes of meetings and providing association records to members. The primary functions of the Secretary are to produce minutes of meetings and maintain the records of the

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Attorneys Fees Awards Against HOAs

In this blog and in my law practice, I focus on practical solutions to clear & present legal dangers to property rights of owners of properties in HOAs, condominiums or cooperatives. Many raise questions about getting attorneys fees awards against

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Don’t be confused when it comes to condo insurance

Condominium insurance is often misunderstood, and for good reason.  Typically, owners are protected under two insurance policies: a master policy for the condo association and an individual, or HO-6, policy. The confusion arises over what each policy covers and the

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When Residents Are Disruptive: Tips for Keeping the Peace

Despite living in association, sometimes disputes erupt. Some residents just can’t be reasoned with. They’ll bother the board or other residents in various ways: noise at all hours, smells, maybe even just being a pest. No matter what it is,

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High Court Upholds Public Policies Against Restrictive Covenants

The issue of restrictive covenants often comes up in news or social media stories where a HOA or condominium demands that an owner take down an addition, a shed, a statue or some other architectural feature on the grounds that

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Choosing association attorney is important decision

Selection of association legal counsel is one of the most important decisions a community association board of directors will make. Engaging legal counsel can have long-term implications for your community. Getting the best possible attorney for the association will have

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Ask Eli: Resolving Disputes With Condo Associations

Question: My condominium association is treating me unfairly, what should I do?  Answer: I receive this question in many forms and will attempt to provide a general road map to deal with association-related conflicts. I enlisted the advice of Tiffany

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Limited Residential Lodging (e.g. Airbnb) – Is It Allowed in Your Association? (VA)

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

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Significant win in Supreme Court of Virginia for local association with statewide benefit

On June 1, 2016, the Supreme Court ruled on a case decided by a Suffolk Circuit Court Judge regarding the taxation of open space in a homeowners association. The Court unanimously overturned the Circuit Court ruling finding that the judge

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What happened in the 2016 General Assembly? (VA)

Rentals; resale disclosure; condemnation.   These changes are effective on July 1, 2016:     Read the article…………..

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Significant win in Supreme Court of Virginia for local association with statewide benefit

On June 1, 2016, the Supreme Court ruled on a case decided by a Suffolk Circuit Court Judge regarding the taxation of open space in a homeowners association. The Court unanimously overturned the Circuit Court ruling finding that the judge

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Can a HOA Represent Individual Landowners in Court without Their Permission? (VA)

Can a HOA Represent Individual Landowners in Court without Their Permission? What gives an HOA or Condo Association standing to sue to address threats coming from outside the community, or to appeal administrative decisions by the government that affect the

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Association Charges : Be Aware of Legal Restrictions on Assessments and Charges (VA)

As of July 1, 2015, the Virginia Condominium Act provides that no condominium association may impose an assessment or charge against a unit owner unless such charge or assessment (a) is expressly authorized by the Condominium Act (see particularly Va.

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Why Reston, Virginia, Still Inspires Planners 50 Years Later

It’s rare for a 1960s suburban development to exert a cultural pull distinct from its neighboring city, but Reston pulled it off.   Read the article………….

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Understanding Association Fees and What They Cover

There are three common categories of Association fees – Home Owners Association/Property Owners Association (HOA/POA) fees, Condominium (condo) fees, and Cooperative (coop) fees. Generally, condo and coop fees are due monthly, but HOA fees often vary between monthly, quarterly, and

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Condo manager remediated mold, gets stuck with bill (VA)

A property management unit of Anheuser-Busch in Williamsburg is on the hook for $11 million in mold remediation costs after the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that the company’s insurer was not liable. The 8th Circuit, applying Missouri

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Virginia Supreme Court nullifies declaration amendment on technicality

On February 12, 2016, in Tvardek v. Powhatan Village HOA, the Virginia Supreme Court struck down a leasing amendment established by a homeowners association in Virginia as a result of the failure of the recorded amendment to contain what the

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Disclosure Packets and Resale Certificates: Statutory Updates (VA)

Since our last postings on the subject of disclosure packets, the General Assembly has adopted several minor Code changes to clarify existing provisions:   Read the article……..

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The Importance of the “Certification” when Amending HOA Documents (VA)

The Virginia Supreme Court’s opinion in Tvardek, et al v. Powhatan Village Homeowners Association, Inc. highlights how critical it is to not only amend your HOA documents in compliance with the law and your existing documents, but to make sure

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Ask Eli: Impact of Condominium Rental Caps

Question: Will a rental cap in a condo building increase or decrease my property value?  Unless you live in a community that relies on a high percentage of FHA loans, a rental cap will decrease property value. However, some communities

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Condo fees are a crucial element in the decision to buy a place

In addition to paying property taxes and a mortgage, condo owners have to pay a monthly maintenance fee, called a condo fee, that goes toward running the building as a whole.    Read the article………….

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How safe is your fireplace?

A chimney fire announces its presence in a very dramatic way. The sound is described like the rumbling of a passing locomotive or the roar of a jet engine. It’s a sound that is familiar to Augusta County resident Dan

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Non-Competes:Take ’em or Leave ’em?

Non-compete agreements increasingly have become the topic du jour among both CEO’s of community association management companies and community managers.    Read Part 1……………   Read Part 2……….

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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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What to Look for in a Condo’s Resale Certificate

Q: I’m thinking about buying a condo and hear that the condo association for the building should be providing me with information in a Resale Packet or Certificate. What’s included in this packet? Is there anything I should be on

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HOA must make homeowners a part of its rule-making process

If a homeowners association votes to amend a restriction, does that change go into effect immediately after notification to property owners via the minutes and any future owners via the disclosure package or not until the paperwork has been completed

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Pool Season: Is Your Association Ready to Take the Plunge?

Many Community Associations prepare to open their neighborhood pool by adding chemicals and performing maintenance to ensure the health and safety of the Owners. But just as HOAs take care in measuring chlorine and skimming leaves, Boards of Directors are

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Spring Projects Create Work For This Architectural Standards Committee. Are You Ready?

Q. It is springtime and a few creative and industrious neighbors are out erecting fences and sheds as others have done in the past without requesting the permission of the Association. We are a 24 home association that recently elected

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How Today’s Urban Planning Can Divide a City and Disenfranchise Voters: The Case of Alexandria, Virginia

This is an analysis of the unforeseen consequences of the City of Alexandria, Virginia privatizing many services that it has traditionally provided to its homeowners. Alexandria was first settled in the mid-1700s and over the years has been home to

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Go Slow: Children at Play

The U.S. Department of Justice announced settlement of a Fair Housing violation case against a Community Association and its Management. In addition to requiring a revamped set of Rules, the offenders must pay a $10,000 penalty to the United States

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2015 General Assembly Update for Virginia Community Associations

The legislation that passed the 2015 General Assembly Session is mostly helpful to Virginia HOAs–clarifying issues created by some legislation, and providing solutions for owner apathy and bank foreclosure problems for associations.    Read more……….

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In a Heartbeat – Is an HOA liable if it provides an AED?

It happens in a heartbeat – literally. Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death among adults over the age of 40 in the United States and other countries. Studies have shown, however, that when bystanders intervene and start

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What you need to know before you buy into a condo association

If you’re thinking about buying a condo, townhouse or single-family house in a community with an association, you might want to do more than check out the size of the bedrooms and the finishes on the counters. You also might

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CAI Best Practices: Ethics

Simply put, when someone is employing ethics, he or she recognizes what is right and what is wrong and is choosing to do the right thing; however, as a great deal of business ethics literature will attest, “the right thing”

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Drones could get expanded role in real estate

Drones — also known as “unmanned aerial vehicles ” — are everywhere. Our military uses them in warfare, archeologists scan ancient Peruvian ruins to avoid damage, and others survey hydroelectric dams. One even illegally landed early Monday on the White

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