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Association Charges : Be Aware of Legal Restrictions on Assessments and Charges

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. Code Sec. 55-79.83) and/or by the condominium instruments for the community, (b) represents a fee for service provided, or (c) is a fee for a resale certificate, as provided for in the Condominium Act. Va. Code Section 55-79.42:1.

The Common Interest Community Board has the authority to assess a monetary penalty and/or issue a cease and desist order against an association or common interest community manager who violates this Code section pursuant to its powers under Title 54.1 (“Common Interest Communities”), Sections 54.1-2349, -2351, and -2352. (The Property Owners’ Association Act already included a similar provision regarding assessments and charges in Section 55-509.3, which was amended in 2015 to add the CICB’s enforcement powers.)

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Disclosure Packets and Resale Certificates: Statutory Updates

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

Delivery by Overnight Carrier 
The Code section providing for cancellation of the purchase agreement within a certain time period after receipt of the resale certificate / disclosure packet previously failed to mention when the purchaser could cancel if the resale certificate / disclosure packet were delivered by overnight delivery service. For both property owners’ associations (“POAs”) and condominium associations, whether self-managed or professionally managed, if the resale certificate / disclosure packet is delivered by commercial overnight delivery service, the purchaser may cancel the contract within three days after receiving it.

The seller or the seller’s authorized agent may choose whether a resale certificate / disclosure packet will be delivered in hard copy or electronically. Such request and instructions must be stated in writing.

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Webinar: Collecting Condo Development and HOA Fees

Will SleethJoin me, Thursday, Jan. 22 (11:00 am - 12:30 pm ET), for this practical collections guide reviewing key issues and processes involved in pursuing outstanding debts in common interest communities. The real estate market troubles have left many condominium and HOAs in turmoil. With fewer members to carry the financial load, every penny counts.  Explore the debtor protections that exist in specific situations, and make certain the collection efforts are lawful and effective.

Topics include: A walk-through of the essential steps of collection procedures; Making certain governing documents support the claim; Finding new ways of legally pursuing the debt owed to the community; and practical tips for staying in compliance with FDCPA.

Who Should Attend: Attorneys, Common-interest community presidents and vice-presidents, Accountants, and Real estate professionals.

Registration fee: $199. CLE credit available. 
Additional details and registration can be found at: www.nbi-sems.com

LeClairRyan Attorneys Attend the Virginia Leadership Retreat (VLR): 2014

This weekend, four members of LeClairRyan's Community Association Industry Team are attending the Virginia Leadership Retreat (VLR) at the Homestead in Hot Springs, VA. The team has attended the annual conference each year since its inception six years ago, often having one or more of its attorneys speaking at the event. Pictured below at the Homestead (from left to right) are Brian Muse, Liz White, Will Sleeth, and Lori Schweller.

Lori Schweller and Will Sleeth to Speak at Upcoming CA Day in Richmond

LeClairRyan attorneys Lori Schweller and Will Sleeth will be speaking once again at this year's Community Association Day trade event sponsored by the Central Virginia Chapter of CAI, which will take place this Tuesday the 18th. The two will be giving a presentation titled "Common Area, Common Problems -- Parking, Drinking, and Other Liability Issues".

For more information about this year's CA Day, including information about how to register, please click here.

 

Drones and HOAs: How Homeowners Associations and Condominium Associations Can Be Prepared to Deal with the New Technology

  Amazon.com’s recent announcement – that in the future it may utilize unmanned drones to deliver packages to individual residences – has created a host of novel legal issues that all homeowners associations should consider and plan for. Although commentators believe that the commercial use of delivery drones may be a few years off, associations should begin planning now for whether they should regulate the use of drones within the association; how they should regulate the use of drones; and how they can minimize potential liability arising from the use of drones.

While the public has so far only been provided with bits and pieces of information about the make-up and capabilities of unmanned delivery drones, some general information is available: a drone will carry a package and will fly from a warehouse to an owner’s house, with the goal of attempting to deliver the package in a very short amount of time right after it has been ordered. The drone is designed to land, helicopter style, on an owner’s lawn and drop off the package. The drone will then use its helicopter-style propellers to vertically ascend from the owner’s lawn and return to the warehouse.

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Elizabeth White Quoted by Virginia Lawyers Weekly Regarding Virginia House Bill 791

Elizabeth L. White, the leader of LeClairRyan’s national Community Association Industry Team, was recently contacted by Virginia Lawyers Weekly and asked to weigh in on pending legislation in the form of Virginia House Bill 791, which would, if passed by the Virginia General Assembly, amend both the Virginia Condominium Act and the Virginia Property Owners Association Act.

The full text of the bill can be found here and here. Although proponents of the bill indicate they are seeking clarification regarding the authority of associations in Virginia to adopt and enforce rules -- clarity which they feel is needed in light of some recent court cases in Virginia -- the proposed legislation, as written, would require associations to go through a two step process before associations could file any suit in a court of law to enforce their declaration and/or rules and regulations. While undertaking alternative dispute resolution is preferable to litigation in most cases, the subject bill as currently written does not make exception for cases which pose an imminent threat to personal health and safety and/or pose an imminent threat of injury to other property.

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LeClairRyan's Community Association Team Handles Acquisition of Golf Course for Large-Scale HOA

Editor's Note: LeClairRyan's Community Association Team handles sophisticated legal matters for a wide array of large-scale master-planned communities throughout Virginia and the nation. The following press release highlights the Team's recent work in assisting a large master-planned homeowner's association in Newport News and York County, Virginia purchase the golf course and country club that is located within the community.

KILN CREEK HOMEOWNERS’ ASSOCIATION TO PURCHASE GOLF COURSE, COUNTRY CLUB & 290 ACRES OF PROTECTED GREEN SPACE

 

Newport News, Virginia—December 23, 2013

The Villages of Kiln Creek Owners Association (KCOA) board of directors today completed its purchase of the Kiln Creek Golf Course & Resort from Dick Ashe. The $3.5 million purchase price includes 290 acres of protected green space with an 18-hole golf course, a former nine-hole golf course, a clubhouse, a 15-room hotel, two restaurants, a swimming pool, tennis courts, a fitness center and office space.

 

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Parking Rights and Common Area / Common Element: Can the Association (or Declarant) Do That?!

You serve on your condominium or property owners’ association’s board of directors and have been receiving complaints about unauthorized cars and space shortages in the community’s parking lot. The Board would like to designate specific parking spaces for use by designated units so that each unit has a certain number of parking spaces available to it at all times. May it do so? The answer depends on (a) how parking spaces are classified in your declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions, and (b) the association’s authority to control common area / common element pursuant to the Virginia Condominium Act or Property Owners’ Association Act and the specific terms of the association’s governing documents.

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Disclosure Packets and Resale Certificates Revisited: Recent Statutory Amendments

Bills recently passed in the Virginia General Assembly extend the list of items for inclusion in property owners’ association disclosure packets and condominium association resale certificates, and also broaden non-association disclosure requirements.  Effective July 1, 2013, disclosure packets may or must (depending on the item) include the following new items:

 Restrictions on Solar Panels (HB 2305): Disclosure statements for lots within property owners’ associations and resale certificates for condominiums must include a statement setting forth any restriction, limitation, or prohibition on the right of a unit owner or lot owner to install or use solar energy collection devices on the owner’s property or unit. Va. Code §§ 55-79.97(C)(17), 55-509.5(A)(12).

Further, Va. Code  § 55-519(B)(9) provides that the disclosure form required under the Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act (a Virginia law that spells out, among other things, certain disclosures that most sellers of property must provide, regardless of whether the property is within a community association) must include language to notify purchasers that by delivering the residential property disclosure statement, the owner makes no representations with respect to any right to install or use solar energy collection devices on the property.

Of course, it is always incumbent on the purchaser to read the declaration, bylaws, and rules and regulations for a community association to determine whether the association has established any restrictions concerning the size, place, and manner of placement of solar energy collection devices; or, for an association with a restrictive covenant adopted prior to July 1, 2008, any restriction or prohibition on the installation or use of a solar collection device. 

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