Case Law Breakdown: Waiver in Maryland

Covenants that exist in homeowners associations and condominiums are nothing more than contracts. They bind the owner and the association, and require both sides to do or refrain from doing certain things. Because they are contracts, certain rules of contract interpretation apply. These include the concept of waiver: the party to a contract can nullify […]

Is it possible to change community association rules? (MD)

The fair and wise governance of a residential community is not always easy. While you may strive to act with consistency and comply with the governing documents of your community, you may frequently field questions about the practicality, fairness or relevance of the existing covenants and rules. On the other hand, circumstances may arise that […]

Is your community association using selective enforcement? (MD)

Like most in your Maryland neighborhood, your choice to buy your home was not based solely on the number of bedrooms and the square footage. You also wanted a safe neighborhood where the community worked together to keep the property values high and to provide attractive common spaces you could share with your family and […]

The new normal: 5 best practices for community associations (MD)

Community associations are as popular as ever and keep growing across the U.S. Just like everything else recently, however, best practices for managing an association have changed over the past year. Is your association keeping up? Here are five takeaways from 2020 that may change the way you interact with each other and homeowners:   Read […]

What Makes a Community Association? (MD)

Community associations come in many forms: condominiums, cooperatives, homeowners’ associations, neighborhood associations, recreation associations, improvement associations, and more. With this broad cross-section of organizations having many different responsibilities, sometimes the message, the purpose, and the benefit can get lost. Homeowners wonder: what does this association really do?   Read the article…………………………………..

Unit Owner Insurance Deductible Responsibility Increased to $10,000 (MD)

Legislation enacted during the 2020 session of the Maryland General Assembly increases the amount for which an individual unit owner is responsible where the cause of damage to any portion of the condominium originates in their unit. Under Section 11-114 of the Maryland Condominium Act, condominium master policies must cover property damage to all of […]

Amendment To The Condominium Act Establishes 60-Day Period For Holders of Mortgages And Deeds Of Trust To Object To Amendments (MD)

An amendment to Section 11-103 of the Maryland Condominium Act, adopted by the General Assembly during 2020 legislative session, clarifies the procedures for obtaining the consent of the holders of mortgages and deeds of trust to amendments to the condominium’s declaration, where such consent it required under a condominium’s governing documents.   Read the article………………………….

FLS Films: Selective Enforcement (MD)

Our video topic today is those bad words for a community association board: “selective enforcement.” Click the video for discussion on the concepts of waiver and severability, and some tips to avoid hearing the dreaded phrase:   Watch the video…………………………………

Maryland Court of Appeals Bars Confessed Judgment Clauses in Consumer Contracts

A recent decision from the Maryland Court of Appeals provided somewhat surprising new guidance on the permissibility of confessed judgment clauses in consumer contracts. In Goshen Run Homeowners Association, Inc. v. Cisneros, the Court concluded that Maryland’s Consumer Protection Act (the “Maryland CPA”) prohibits all confessed judgment clauses in all consumer contracts.   Read the article………………………….

Maryland court of appeals: state consumer protection act covers HOA collections

On January 27, the Court of Appeals of Maryland affirmed the dismissal of a homeowners association’s (HOA) confessed judgment complaint against a consumer, and stated that the HOA could not file an amended complaint. According to the opinion, the consumer owned a home that is part of an HOA, which makes annual assessments to cover […]

Maryland court of appeals: Law firm’s collection activities do not necessarily qualify for “professional services” exemption

On January 28, the Court of Appeals of Maryland held that not all services provided by a law firm or a lawyer fall within the “professional services” exemption under the Maryland Consumer Protection Act (CPA). In this case, a homeowners association (HOA) retained a law firm to collect delinquent HOA assessments, fines, penalties, and attorney’s […]

The General Counsel Model

Condominiums, cooperatives, and homeowners associations are often referred to as “community associations.” This is with good reason; the associations usually govern a neighborhood of friends and people who regularly interact with one another in a social setting. For that reason, their governing boards of directors can often fall into the trap of operating in an […]

Maryland Legislative Update 2019

Two new laws directly affecting community associations were passed during the 2019 Maryland Legislative Session. First, Residents of 55 plus communities in Carroll County can now conduct a bingo game on the common areas of their community in addition to Mahjong and card games for a small wager (HB 1127/SB 786). Boards may want to […]

Abraham Lincoln, President of – the Community Association?

President of the Neighborhood Homeowners Association. President of the Condominium. The President of the United States of America.  One of these things is not like the other. Or is it? The title is the same. The election process and democratic nature are…. similar? Perhaps there is something to be learned from what makes a successful […]

Nuisance Complaints and HOAs (MD)

One of the most common Home Owners Association (HOA) issues involves nuisance complaints. Typically, a neighbor will bring action, alleging that certain activities or conditions constitute a public or private nuisance. If the HOA does not act quickly to enforce the nuisance provisions in their governing documents, the court may grant injunctive relief to correct […]

Maryland Streamlines Process for HOAs to Remove Antiquated Racist Covenants

Rodgers Forge became the first residential community in Maryland to take advantage of a 2018 law that empowered and required homeowners associations to proactively act to remove covenants that restrict homeownership based on skin color, religion, or nationality, according to The Baltimore Sun. In May, the Towson, Md., community altered 85 covenants written more than […]

What’s in a Fine? (MD)

Yes, here at FLS you can get your condo law with a side of Shakespeare. And today we are talking about that most inflammatory of community association topics: the FINE. When an owner violates a provision of the governing documents, the Association may have several avenues of recourse. It can file for an injunction and […]


This month in Collections Corner, we will return to an issue we first addressed in our December 2017 Newsletter – reporting delinquent homeowners Community Association debt to the credit bureaus (enclosed). To briefly recap the contents of that letter, our office became aware of a company advertising services to report delinquent homeowners on behalf of […]

Special Client Letter – Requests For Reasonable Modifications And Accommodations And Emotional Support Under The Fair Housing Act (MD)

Over the years, many clients have asked our office to provide guidance concerning homeowners’ requests for reasonable modifications and/or accommodations under the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (the “FHAA”). And, more recently, as you may have seen in the news, there is a significant increase in the use of emotional support animals (“ESAs”) […]

When does the HOA Belong to the Homeowners? (MD)

So you have done it. You purchased that dream home. It is brand new, and you worked with the builder for months, agonizing over each critical detail. And it is yours! Now it is time to protect that investment and turn your community into your village. How do you go about doing that?   Read the […]

6 New Years Resolutions for your Community Association

Happy New Year! Hopefully the holidays were filled with nothing but joy and spirit (or spirits!) For some of us, the holidays can bring new or unforeseen challenges in the community association context, whether it be parking problems from all the visitors, frozen pipes from the ice and snow, or the architectural committee playing Grinch […]

Navigating the Dreaded Assessment Increase

Well, it happened again. I was on the phone today with a very nice woman who had fallen behind on her condominium assessments. As we discussed a payment plan to help get her caught up, she said, “When I moved in here were so much lower.”  I didn’t say anything. We moved on to discuss […]

The Maryland HOA Implied Common Area Warranty

In Maryland there is an implied warranty on the construction of the common areas within a homeowners association (‘HOA”) community. The warranty is codified at Section 11B-110 of the Maryland Homeowners Association Act (“MD HOA Act”), and provides that “there shall be an implied warranty to the homeowners association” that the improvements to the common […]

Condominium Resale Disclosure Requirements – Be Sure You Have the Most Recent Version of Section 11-135 (MD)

As I have previously written, the information contained in condominium resale disclosure certificates must be carefully reviewed for accuracy, so as to avoid exposing the community to liability for misleading information that does not present a clear picture of the financial obligations that may await a prospective purchaser.    Read the article……………………

Budget Season (MD)

This is a busy time of year for Board Members and Property Managers, as many are working n their budgets for next year. We have a few tips to guide you through this process.  Maryland Clients – Please do not forget to comply with the laws regarding the adoption of your budget. As such, your […]

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 […]

Resolving Condominium Construction Claims in Maryland

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

New Maryland Law Facilitates Ability Of Condos To Suspend Common Element Privileges As A Means Of Collecting Delinquent Condominium Assessments

The Maryland legislature recently made it easier for condominium associations to amend their declarations to authorize the suspension of common area parking and recreational facilities of unit owners whose delinquent condominium assessments are more than 60 days in arrears. Under prior law, a minimum of 80% or greater was required for such an amendment. The […]

Legislative Updates for Maryland

The 2018 legislative session for the State of Maryland was very active. The General Assembly considered many bills that impact community associations. Below, is a recap of each law that we believe may impact your community. And, I have also noted a few proposed laws that did not pass but which may be considered in […]

HOA Assessment Collection in Maryland

The timely payment and collection of homeowner association assessments is essential to an association’s financial well-being and efficient operation. The association’s Board of Directors has a fiduciary responsibility to stay on top of assessment collection so that delinquent assessments do not accumulate, depriving the association of needed operating capital. This article provides an overview of […]

New Maryland Law Prevents Shortening Statute of Limitations Applicable to Claims for Condominium Construction Defects

A new Maryland law prevents developers from shortening the time period within which condominium associations and their unit owner members can assert claims for hidden construction defects in newly constructed condominiums. The legislation known as HB 77 and SB 258 passed both houses of the Maryland General Assembly and was signed into law by Governor […]

Foreclosure/Writ of Execution (MD)

This month we are highlighting the process of determining whether a delinquent homeowner’s account should be considered for a statutory foreclosure or writ of execution (sometime commonly referred to as a Sherriff’s Sale). Either a statutory foreclosure or writ of execution divests the current non-paying homeowner from title to the property and, as such, are […]

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 […]

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 […]

Should Your Community Report Delinquent Assessments to the Credit Bureaus?

We have been asked by several clients over the past year about whether they can report delinquent assessment debt to the credit bureaus, or whether we will do so on their behalf. This article is intended to walk you through our general position on this matter. While we draw some conclusions herein, this is not […]

Discriminatory Housing Practices by Third Parties

Many of our clients have asked us to provide guidance with regard to 24 CRF 100.700, a new rule promulgated by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) pursuant to its authority under the Fair Housing Act (the “Act”). As set forth more fully below, 24 CRF 100.700 arguably imposes additional obligations […]

Starting a Neighborhood Watch in Your Community

Many of our communities have expressed an interest in forming a neighborhood watch in order to assist with preventing crime and building stronger relationships with law enforcement. Though forming a neighborhood can be a great way to achieve these goals, a neighborhood watch could result in liability to the community. To reduce liability to the […]

What’s a Board to Do? A Guide to Resolving Disputes in Your Community

We have been asked on numerous occasions recently to give guidance to our community association clients about disputes that arise with and between their members. Communities throughout Maryland, and across the country, grapple with these questions every day. Resolving disputes within a community association can be one of the most daunting tasks facing members of […]

Bankruptcy 101: Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 13

We have been asked on numerous occasions recently to provide guidance to our community association clients about the effects that bankruptcy has on their collections cases. The most common forms of bankruptcy by owners in the community association context are filed pursuant to either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. […]

New Maryland Laws Governing Condominiums and HOAs

Beginning on October 1, 2017, several new laws will go into effect in Maryland governing condominiums and homeowners associations (“HOA”). With so much of new residential real estate being developed as part of an HOA or a condominium regime, these new laws will affect many homeowners in Maryland.   Read the article…………

What HOAs Should Really Know About Aging Residents

Every HOA community faces challenges with aging-in-place residents. The “Baby Boomer” generation is, on average, 65 years old and would rather stay in their home than move to a senior care center or in with another family member.   For HOA boards and their respective community managers, this creates a new set of circumstances to […]

Right To Terminate Developer Contracts Must Be Exercised Within Three Years (MD)

Section 11-133 of the Maryland Condominium Act gives a council of unit owners the right to terminate leases, management contracts, employment contracts, and other contracts entered into by the developer during the period that the developer had control of a majority of the votes in the council.     Read the article……………