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DC Condo & HOA Articles Archive

/ Owner - June 28, 2012
  • HOAs are blocking solar panels and native lawns. Here’s how to fight back.
    More Americans than ever are running afoul of their HOAs for updating their homes in ways that benefit the environment, adding solar panels, native lawns, EV chargers, clotheslines or gardens. Once a rarity, 84 percent of newly built, single-family homes sold in 2022 were part of HOAs, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.   Read the article…………………………….
  • 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……………………………….
  • What Is a Community Association’s Responsibility In Regards To Alleged Discrimination Or Harassment?
    Years ago, if the board of a community association (condo, coop, or HOA) learned that an owner was allegedly discriminating against or harassing another, it could turn a blind eye with little (if any) legal consequence.  Today, federal regulations and many local laws require a community association board to intervene and take action when it knows about alleged discriminatory conduct in its community, and has the power to correct it.    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 money laundering, tax fraud and the financing of terrorism. While both problems seem far removed from the operations of community associations, FinCEN’s regulations appear to cover most community associations and their directors and officers in newly adopted reporting requirements.   Read the article……………………………
  • Understanding Rental Restrictions in Condominiums (DC)
    Condominium boards often seek to restrict or regulate the ability of unit owners to rent out their units, for a variety of reasons. These reasons may include:    Read the article…………………………………
  • 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 association’s governing documents and promote the well-being of the community. Despite a board’s best-efforts, instances may arise where the association or directors may be sued by an individual or group   Read the article………………………..
  • 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 a condominium document package to help potential buyers understand what to expect.    Read the article………………………..
  • 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………………………..
  • Changes to the DC Condo Act’s Warranty Provisions Set to Take Effect
    The DC Council recently made significant changes to the provisions of the DC Condominium Act (“Act”) relating to the warranty that each developer provides to condominium associations and unit owners.      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 pertaining to short-term rentals.  Read the 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 issues past their attorney: to ensure they notify owners properly, to avoid future challenges, and to be sure that any disputes are likely to be resolved in their favor.    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 that the McNeil’s violated the HOA’s bylaws by renting out their townhouse for use as a residence by a group of recovering alcoholics and substance abusers.   Read the article……………………..
  • Emotional Support Animals and Dangerous Dogs in Cooperative Apartment and Condo Communities
    An emotional support animal (ESA) is a companion animal (typically a dog or cat) that provides therapeutic benefit to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability. An ESA is not the same thing as a pet. Rather, for a resident of a co-op or condo who is living with a mental or psychiatric disability, an ESA may provide him or her with the opportunity to live independently.   Read the article………………………
  • 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 its provisions regarding the six-month “super-priority” of a condominium association lien to wipe out a mortgage lender, including those in “first” position. As a result of this decision, a number of related cases have been working their way through the Superior Court to the Court of Appeals. In Liu v. U.S. Bank, N.A. 179 A.3d 871 (D.C. 2018), the court once again ruled in favor ...
  • 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 to remit payment in full or contact our office to negotiate an agreeable payment arrangement, we will proceed with filing of lawsuit to obtain a judgment against the person, which is in addition to the lien against the property.    Read the article………………
  • 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. 13, 2018). In the case, the borrower obtained a loan to purchase a condominium. In 2013, the condominium association foreclosed on the property because of the borrower’s failure to pay the association fees, and the defendant third-party purchaser obtained the property.    Read the article………………
  • 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 every owner in this area must carry for their own unit, called an HO-6 policy.    Read the article………………..
  • 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 operating capital, but also affect its ability to borrow money and obtain FHA approval. This article provides an overview of the assessment collection process for condominium associations in Maryland and the District of Columbia. Information is provided to help condominium associations adopt their own assessment collection policies and procedures that work best for their communities within the framework of Maryland and Washington DC condominium law.  ...
  • New Decision from the D.C. Court of Appeals Recognizes Additional Defenses to HOA Super-Priority Lien Statute
    As we noted in last week’s blog post, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals issued a decision on March 1, 2018, that created a new wave of uncertainty for lenders with loans secured by deeds of trust on condominium units in the District of Columbia. In the Liu decision, the court held that a condominium association’s foreclosure on its statutory lien could wipe out a first priority security interest on the same property even when the association expressly purported to foreclose subject to the first deed of trust. But a new decision in U.S. Bank, N.A. v. Green Parks, LLC, issued on March 13, 2018, offers insight into what secured lenders can do to avoid the outcome in Liu.  ...
  • 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 Nat’l Ass’n, 2018 WL 1095503 (D.C. Mar. 1, 2018). In the case, the borrower purchased a condominium in 2007 and financed it through a loan from the lender, which was secured by a mortgage on the property. In 2009, the borrower defaulted on both his loan and his condominium assessments.     Read the article………………..
  • 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 are outdated, or lack specificity. For example, governing documents often afford broad discretion to directors and management, permitting them to set interest rates, late fees, and apply acceleration. While such provisions can provide flexibility in administration, they can also create additional work and risk inconsistent application.    Read the article……………..
  • 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 claims.  This article provides a general overview of how Washington DC condominium associations transitioning from developer control can proactively and successfully identify defects and resolve construction defect claims with condominium developers and builders.    Read the article……………….
  • 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 questions of standing without ruling on the merits of the case. That said, a party dismissed for lack of standing cannot win. Standing just means that the case can proceed.    Read the article…………….
  • 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 developer fails to make warranty repairs.  This article discusses how the warranty against structural defect works and how to make claims against the developer’s security to fund warranty repairs.    Read the article……………
  • 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 that the McNeil’s violated the HOA’s bylaws by renting out their townhouse for use as a residence by a group of recovering alcoholics and substance abusers. The terms of the rental agreement did not meet certain requirements of the HOA’s bylaws, primarily because the lease did not name the persons who would occupy the premises. Mr. Welsh initially sued the McNeils in Superior Court for ...
  • Enforcing Mechanic’s Liens Against Condos in Maryland & DC
    This article discusses the unit owner notice and party inclusion requirements necessary for establishing and enforcing a mechanics’ liens against a condominium in Maryland and the District of Columbia.   Read the article……………
  • 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 from the declarant.    Read the article……………
  • 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 a “transition checklist” for transitioning unit owner-controlled boards of directors.   Read the article…………..
  • 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 to $45,000, but they can go for much more. Also, the search terms “parking” and “parking space” rank high on the list of keywords consumers search for on our public database, MRISHomes.com. Given the demand, there is a growing need to find creative solutions for where to put our cars, or how to live in the city without one altogether.      Read the article………………
  • 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.  The result can cost unsuspecting owners hundreds or even thousands of dollars.      Read the article…………..
  • 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 of revenue. But they can learn to better manage the funds they have.    Read the article…………….
  • 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………….
  • 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 questions of “Should Bob steal from Jack?” or “Should Jack lie to his boss?”
  • 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 again: not just priority of payment, but priority of position for these HOA assessment superliens.     Read more……..
  • Condo’s Priority Lien Can Extinguish Mortgage Lien (DC)
    Condo's Priority Lien Can Extinguish Mortgage Lien (DC)
  • 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 in the community’s Section VII neighborhood were saturated and required gut rehabs before residents could move back.   Read more……..
  • 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 heads eager to replace themselves.     Read more……..
  • 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 in condo management meetings can share a horror story about the experience.      Read more……….
  • Transition
  • Strategic Planning
    Strategic Planning
  • Reserve Studies/Management
    Reserve Studies/Management
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