How to do battle with your homeowners association

Homeowners’ Associations, also known as HOAs, are often necessary and helpful — especially in multi-unit dwellings or communities with a lot of common areas — but if you poll your neighbors about whether they enjoy living in one, you’ll likely receive mixed reviews.   Read the article……………………………….

The Corporate Transparency Act (CTA)’s Beneficial Ownership Information Reporting Requirements: What Do Community Associations Need to Know?

In 2021, Congress passed a law to create more transparency as to the individuals that control organizations and corporate entities. The Corporate Transparency Act (“CTA”), adopted in 2021, may begin affecting community associations on January 1st, 2024. Pursuant to the CTA, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) has enacted a new rule to primarily combat […]

The Interplay Between Condo Bylaws And House Rules

Two important documents maintained by a condominium association are its Bylaws and any Rules and Regulations, also known as House Rules. This article will outline the differences between Bylaws and House Rules and how they are important to the successful governance of a condominium building. Read the article………………………..

What to do if the Association is Sued

One of the most frustrating issues a community association board of directors has to deal with is what to do if the association, the board, or an individual director is sued. It is the duty of the board to act in the best interests of the association and make decisions that are consistent with the […]

What is Typically Included in a Condo Document Package? (DC)

A crucial aspect of buying a condominium is the review of the condominium document package prior to closing. This collection of documents provides important information about the condominium complex, its management, rules, financial health, and other important aspects that potential buyers should be aware of. In this article, we will outline the typical contents of […]

Living in Harmony: The Art of Being a Good Neighbor

While a house can help homeowners create a certain lifestyle, the people you live near can also have an impact on your quality of life. Many say that their neighbors have become a major part of their lives.    Read the article………………………..

Case Law Breakdown: Due Process in DC Condos

A violation of the condo bylaws occurs. The first question from the board and management is: how do we enforce it? That typically encompasses two issues. The first is: what remedies and tools do we have available to us? The second is: what procedure do we have to follow?   Read the article………………………..

Condo rules for animals vary widely

When my clients are considering the purchase of a condominium or cooperative, they initially have three association guidelines on their minds: the rental policy, the renovation policy, and the pet policy.   Read the article………………………..

District of Columbia Updates Short-Term Rental Rules

With the rise of short-term rentals through services such as Airbnb, legislation providing regulations and restrictions on how short-term rentals are regulated and managed has become essential. With concerns over public access to buildings, guest misconduct, and insurance, it is vital for cooperative, condominium, and home owner associations (collectively, “Associations”) to stay updated on legislation […]

Mediation, Arbitration & Litigation: A Comparison for Community Associations

When community associations become embroiled in legal disputes, there are three main methods of resolution: mediation, arbitration, and litigation. Mediation is a non-binding process where a neutral third party attempts to assist the parties in reaching a voluntary resolution of their dispute. In contrast, litigation and arbitration are both binding proceedings where a private arbitrator, […]

The Washington DC Mechanic’s Lien Claim in a Nutshell

The Washington DC Mechanic’s Lien statute provides general contractors and some subcontractors with a powerful statutory remedy to claim and recover monies owed for work or material supplied in the construction, improvement or repair of a building located in the District of Columbia.   Read the entire article……………………………….

Case Law Breakdown: Condominium Board Power in the District of Columbia

Condominium boards are constantly struggling with the question: Can we impose this rule? Further, they want to know how to impose it: what votes or amendments are required. Finally, they want to know how to enforce those rules legally and effectively. There are a few reasons why a Condominium Board would want to run these […]

Treble Damages and Attorneys Fees in Condominium Construction Defect Claims in Washington DC

This article discusses the circumstances under which a Condominium Unit Owners Association in Washington DC may have the right to recover treble damages, attorney’s fees and other litigation expenses incurred in pursuing a condominium construction defect case against a condominium declarant, developer or builder.    Read the article………………………………

Headstrong HOA Board Member Puts Himself in Harm’s Way Over Fair Housing Issues (DC)

In a recent case decided by the D.C. Court of Appeals, the court heard a matter involving the intersection between community association governance and fair housing law. In this case, Wilfred Welsh, a board member of the Chaplin Woods Homeowners Association (the “HOA”), sued fellow HOA members Beverly McNeil and Alvin Elliott (the “McNeils”), claiming […]

Super-Priority Issues Linger in D.C.

With the issuance of its decision in Chase Plaza Condominium Ass’n v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A., 98 A.3d 166, (D.C. 2014), the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upended the established manner in which condominium liens have been handled in the District. In Chase Plaza, the court interpreted D.C. Code §42-1901 and […]

Collections Corner: Filing Of A Lawsuit (MD/DC)

This month we are highlighting the process of filing a lawsuit to obtain a judgment against a delinquent homeowner. After a lien is filed, we generally send a lien notification letter to the delinquent homeowner advising him or her that a lien has been filed against the property and; further, if he or she fails […]

Legislative Updates for D.C.

As we noted last year, the Council for the District of Columbia revised the DC Condominium Act substantially in a few important ways. This legislative season, the Council has considered three additional bills that, if passed, will impact condominiums and other common ownership communities within the District.    Read the article……………….

Washington D.C. Appellate Court Holds Foreclosing Condominium Association Might Not Have Super-Priority if It Forecloses on More Than Six Months of Dues

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals recently reversed a lower court’s decision granting summary judgment to a condominium association and held that the association’s foreclosure of a “super-priority” condominium lien may not have extinguished an otherwise first-priority mortgage on the property. See U.S. Bank Nat’l Ass’n v. Green Parks, LLC, No. 16-cv-842 (D.C. Mar. […]

Kass: Problem in your condo unit? You might have to pay the deductible.

Many condominium projects in the Washington area are old, having been converted from previous rental apartment buildings. Pipes periodically break or leak, often causing thousands of dollars in damage. Who pays? The unit owner or the association?  Every condominium association has insurance coverage, typically called the “master policy.” This is in addition to the policy […]

Assessment collection for condominium associations in Maryland and Washington DC

The timely payment and collection of condominium assessments is essential to the financial well-being and efficient operation of a condominium association. The association’s Board of Directors has a fiduciary responsibility to stay on top of assessment collection so that delinquent condominium assessments do not accumulate. Excessive delinquencies not only deprive a condominium association of needed […]

Washington D.C. Appellate Court Holds Foreclosure of Condominium Lien Extinguished First Mortgage Despite Condominium Association’s Representations to the Contrary

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals recently held that a condominium’s foreclosure of a “super-priority” condominium lien extinguished an otherwise first-priority mortgage on the property, despite the fact that the association’s notice of sale and deed to the third-party purchaser stated that the sale was “subject to” the mortgage. See Liu v. U.S. Bank […]

Modernizing Condominium Documents To Streamline Assessment Collection (DC/VA/MD)

Assessment collection is critical to the efficient operation of a condominium. Governing documents play an important part in the collection process by establishing a condominium association’s assessment collection authority and collection procedures. Therefore, it is important that governing documents clearly define procedures and comply with current laws. Some assessment collection procedures in condominium governing documents […]

Resolving Condominium Construction Defect Claims in Wash. DC

Newly constructed and newly converted condominiums in Washington DC (District of Columbia) often contain concealed or “latent” construction defects. Left undetected and unrepaired, defects in the construction of a condominium can cause extensive damage over time, requiring associations to assess their members substantial repair costs that could have been avoided by making timely developer warranty […]

Standing to Sue While Sitting on the Board

Standing is a party’s right to make a legal claim in Court. When the judge comes out to sit on the bench, she will read the cases and the parties or their attorneys come forward as called. “Standing” is the right to seek a legal remedy as shown by the facts alleged. Judges ordinarily decide […]

The Condominium Warranty Against Structural Defects in D.C.

The District of Columbia Condominium Act contains a statutory warranty that protects condominium associations and their unit owner members from structural defects in newly constructed and newly converted condominiums. The warranty is backed by a condominium developer’s bond, letter of credit, or other form of security from which monies can be drawn upon if the […]

Headstrong HOA Board Member Puts Himself in Harm’s Way Over Fair Housing Issues

In a recent case decided by the D.C. Court of Appeals, the court heard a matter involving the intersection between community association governance and fair housing law. In this case, Wilfred Welsh, a board member of the Chaplin Woods Homeowners Association (the “HOA”), sued fellow HOA members Beverly McNeil and Alvin Elliott (the “McNeils”), claiming […]

A Checklist for Associations Transitioning From Developer Control (Pt 2) (DC)

This article is a continuation of “Declarant Transition – Part I,” an overview of the laws governing the declarant transition process for unit owners’ associations in the District of Columbia. Part II, below, sets forth a transition checklist that should be addressed by the initial, unit owner-elected board once it assumes control of the association […]

Transition of Association Governance from Declarant to Unit Owner Control

This is a two part article concerning “declarant transition,” the process by which the governance of a unit owner’ association is transferred from declarant to unit owner control. Part I, below, is an overview of the legal requirements in the District of Columbia that govern the transition process. Part II of this article will contain […]

Why parking is becoming more scarce at new condo buildings (DC)

Of all the features buyers are looking for in a home, a dedicated parking space is at the top of many wish lists for District house hunters.   A separately deeded parking space can sell for significant amounts of money. For example, parking spaces listed for sale in the MRIS multiple listing service range from $18,000 […]

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 potential for gaps — or a lack of coverage — for certain, often costly, occurrences. […]

Real Estate Condo associations should build up reserves for a rainy day

A recent front page article in The Washington Post on the financial problems many aging condominiums in the Washington area are facing prompted me to write this column about the absolute necessity of maintaining adequate reserves.  Boards of directors can’t control when personal financial problems force owners into default and foreclosure, reducing the condo’s source […]

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 and recorded, which can take considerable time? Thank you.    Read the Q&A…………….

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 want to examine the association’s board minutes.    Read more………

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” is not always straightforward. For example, most ethical dilemmas in the workplace are not simply […]

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 House lawn.      Read more………

Making the transition for a new condominium association

Transition between developer control and owner control is perhaps the most important aspect of any community association. If done properly, the association will be off to a good start; if done poorly, it may take a long time to get back on track. And some associations never succeed.    Read more……..

Nevada and D.C. Courts Give Priority of Position to HOA Assessment “Superliens” Over First Mortgages

In late August, the D.C. Court of Appeals rendered a decision in Chase Plaza Condominium Association, Inc. v. J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, N.A., CA-5826-10 (August 28, 2014) determining that a homeowner’s association’s (HOA’s) statutory “super-priority” lien, or superlien, for unpaid assessments took priority of position over other liens, including a lender’s mortgage lien. Read that […]

Exception to the Disaster Rules

FEMA is drawing the line on distributing recovery funds. Individual homeowners can get aid after a devastating storm but not community associations for their common elements.  Flood waters that swamped part of Nashville’s River Plantation community in May 2010 disappeared within a few days. The damage did not. Nearly all of the 156 slab-floor condominiums […]

Be sure to read your condo documents

In the D.C. metropolitan area, when you’re under contract to purchase a residence governed by a homeowners’ or condominium association, the seller of the property must give you a set of documents known as a Resale Package or, in the case of new construction, a Public Offering Statement (POS).    Read more………

The Pros of Joining Your Condo or Co-op Board

In the initial excitement of homeownership, many condo and co-op owners consider attending monthly condo board meetings with the idea of becoming active board members. Most experienced condo dwellers will warn against blithely walking into a board meeting, having learned that the thirst for new volunteer blood can lead to a feeding frenzy from committee […]

The Cons of Condo Board Membership

As we pointed out in the first part of this series, condominium and co-op owners have plenty of reasons to join their homeowners association board, particularly if they want a say in decisions that can affect their monthly budget and the future value of their home. The caveat is that nearly everyone who has participated […]