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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.

In its February 6, 2014, article entitled, “Bill Would Revamp HOA Enforcement Powers and Procedures,” Virginia Lawyers Weekly quotes Ms. White:

“The bill may need an escape clause for emergency situations,” such as situations which threaten personal safety, and “There ought to be a way to get in [to court] faster,” in those cases.

In most cases, associations will want to go through the due process, or tribunal hearing process, afforded by each of these acts; however, there are special circumstances in which associations will need to get into court on an expedited basis. Ms. White remains hopeful that the proposed legislation will be amended to allow for such special circumstances prior to its adoption, if any, by the Virginia General Assembly.

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