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Remember Who the Client Is When Meeting with an Attorney

 

When consulting with an attorney on behalf of a legal entity, such as a homeowners association or condominium unit owners association, or a developer that is a limited liability company or corporation, it is easy to lose track of who is being represented by the attorney. The attorney’s engagement letter should clearly state who the client is and, even better, will also state related parties whom the attorney will not be representing. Representation of an entity does not typically include representation of managers, individual officers, members, or shareholders of such entity unless such relationship is expressly or implicitly established.

If you are an officer, member, manager, director, or shareholder of a Declarant or Association, remember that, in your consultations with the attorney for such entity, you are acting as an agent of such entity, which is the client. Remembering that you personally are not the client will help you to avoid divulging confidences that are personal to you and that you may not want the others in the organization to know. In order to represent her Association or Declarant client diligently, the entity’s attorney may not be able to ethically keep your confidences from the client.

Are You Signed Up For The Virginia Leadership Retreat?

The annual Virginia Leadership Retreat will take place this year from July 27 - July 29, 2012 at the Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia. This annual event has become the premier state-wide gathering for the community association industry in Virginia. Once again, LeClairRyan's community association team will be well represented there. Like most years, we'll be blogging live from the event. Also, this year we'll be tweeting live! If you're not currently following Will Sleeth (the Editor of the Virginia Community Association Law Blog) on Twitter, you can follow him @Will_Sleeth. For more information about the Leadership Retreat, click here.

Avoiding the Perils and Pitfalls of the Fair Credit Reporting Act

On Thursday, February 16, 2012, LeClairRyan employment law attorney and Community Association Team member Brian Muse will present a one-hour webinar on the Fair Credit Report Act.

This webinar will provide practical advice to employers on what they need to know to conduct background checks and employee investigations without running afoul of the FCRA. It will address the types of notice that employers must provide prior to background checks and the required procedures for compliance. It will also offer practical advice to employers to avoid legal trouble in this constantly evolving area of the law.

For more information, and to register for this event, click here.

 

LeClairRyan Attorneys to Speak at 2012 Conference and Expo of the Washington Metro Chapter of CAI

LeClairRyan attorneys Doug Cuthbertson and Nicole Pszczolkowski were recently selected to give a presentation at the upcoming 2012 Conference and Expo of the Washington Metro Chapter of CAI. Their presentation, entitled "We've Been Sued! Now What?" will feature a discussion of practical tips for board members, community managers, and others on how to avoid litigation and what to do if they find themselves in litigation.

The 2012 Conference and Expo will take place on March 31, 2012, from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. For more information about the Conference, please click here.

Community Associations and Stormwater Detention Pond Maintenance ("BMP") Responsibilities

Editor's Note: Guest blogger Steve Blaine, a LeClairRyan attorney practicing out of the firm's Charlottesville office, and focusing his practice on land use, zoning, and community association law, has contributed the following post.

 BMPs: How to avoid an amenity from becoming a headache.

We frequently counsel clients, community associations, developers and builders, on various issues involving that ubiquitous ‘amenity’ known as the stormwater detention pond, or “BMP” (short for “Best Management Practices”). This article will briefly discuss how to avoid some of the more common pitfalls facing homeowners whose community’s common areas/elements include these useful, even if at times burdensome, features. At the end of the article is a “glossary of key terms” related to BMPs.

Why do we have BMPs anyway?

BMPs are used to improve the quality of water runoff from roads, parking lots, developed land, including residential neighborhoods, and to reduce peak stormwater runoff flow by providing temporary storage during larger storm events. If the BMP in your subdivision was constructed early in the development process, it was probably used to trap sediment from construction activities in the tributary drainage area, which also can be a very effective way to collect and remove pollutants. Hopefully, the BMP in your neighborhood happens to provide other benefits such as passive recreation and open space in addition to reducing peak runoff rates and improving water quality.

It is essential for those responsible for maintaining these BMPs to understand their important role and what to do to assure their continued proper function.
 

Continue Reading...

LeClairRyan's Will Sleeth Published in "The Fee Simple" Regarding Developer Transition Issues

The Fee Simple law journal (the journal of the Virginia State Bar's Real Property Section) recently published an article by LeClairRyan's Will Sleeth related to developer transition issues. The article, titled "The Transition from Developer-Control of a Property Owners' Association and the 2002 Attorney General's Opinion," examined whether Virginia law imposes a time-limit on when a developer must transition control of the board of directors of a property owners' association to the owners, if there is not a specific provision requiring such in the association's governing documents. The article examines the current state of the law, with a special focus on a controversial opinion issued by the Virginia Attorney General in 2002. To read a copy of the article, click here.

Can a Dog Serve on Your HOA Board?

 

While many board members have likely been tempted at some point to utter under their breaths that a fellow director can at times be a "dog," reports of actual dogs being appointed as directors of community associations are few and far between.

So it raised a few eyebrows when the Washington Post reported the other week that a shaggy white dog named "Ms. Beatha Lee" was recently elected the president of the Hillbrook-Tall Oaks Civic Association in Annandale, Virginia. The Post reports that certain members, frustrated at the difficulty of having to continually recruit members to serve on the board, decided to offer the dog as a candidate.

While it does not appear that the Association is a property owners’ association or condominium association, as defined under Virginia law, certain smaller community associations may experience similar frustrations in attempting to recruit and retain board members.

Here’s our free legal advice for the day: don’t even think about trying to nominate a dog (or any pet for that matter) for a board position. There is a large list of reasons why it would be improper, not the least of which is that most association documents require directors to be members of the association, something animals can not be by virtue of the fact that they can’t own property. Furthermore, the law imposes upon directors duties of care and loyalty to the corporation. While dog lovers will universally agree that dogs are some of the most "loyal" creatures there are, the legal concept of "loyalty" is quite different from faithfully retrieving a frisbee or curling up on the couch.

 

Blogging Live from the Upcoming CAI Law Seminar

CAI will be hosting its annual Community Association Law Seminar on January 13 - 15 in Las Vegas. The LeClairRyan Community Association Team will once again have a strong showing at the conference. We will be blogging live from the seminar, so be sure to tune in to the blog for updates throughout the weekend.

For more information on the seminar, including registration information, click here.

LeClairRyan's Liz White Quoted in National Media Article on Board Meetings

LeClairRyan's Liz White was recently featured in an article on Board Meetings that was featured by several national media outlets, including Forbes magazine, the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the Baltimore Business Journal, the Business Journal of Phoenix, and the Cincinnati Business Courier. Locally, the article was featured by NBC12. To view the article, in which Liz discusses tips for an effective board meeting (and in which she shares some humorous tidbits about board meetings gone awry), click here.

Missed the Fair Housing Act Webinar? View it Now.

Did you happen to miss last month's Fair Housing Act webinar put on by LeClairRyan's Liz White and Brian Muse? No problem -- the webinar is available for viewing at your convenience. Just click here to be linked to the blog's "Webinars" section to find links to this webinar as well as all of the team's other webinars.

Upcoming Webinar on the Fair Housing Act

On Wednesday, May 19th, LeClairRyan's Community Association Industry Team will be hosting a free webinar entitled "The Fair Housing Act: Keeping your Community Association in Compliance and Out of Court.”

On Wednesday the 19th from noon to 1 P.M. EST, attorneys Liz White and Brian Muse will provide an overview of the Fair Housing Act and how it applies to Community Associations, and offer practical advice for how Associations can avoid fines, penalties, and lawsuits.

If you haven't already registered for this free event, click here to register now.

The Property Owners' Association Act and the Condo Act: Be Aware of Subtle Differences

If you serve on the board of directors of a property owners’ association or a condominium association, or are a property manager, you need to ensure that you are looking at the correct law – the Property Owners’ Association Act, or the Condominium Act, respectively. Although both acts contain many similar provisions that bear on issues common to both types of associations, on some key issues the provisions of the acts differ, and pose a potential stumbling block to the unwary.

The potential for confusion is especially pronounced among directors in a certain type of association who frequently discuss community association issues with friends who serve as directors of a different type of association (e.g., a director of a property owners’ association discussing issues with a director of a condominium association), as well as property managers who may manage several associations, a few of which may be property owners’ associations, and a few of which may be condominium associations.

For example, § 55.510(F) of the Property Owners’ Association Act provides that a property owners’ association’s “bylaws shall specify an officer or his agent who shall, at least 14 days in advance of any annual or regularly scheduled meeting [of the members]… send to each member notice of the time, place, and purposes of such meeting.”

§ 55.79-75(A) of the Condominium Act, on the other hand, provides that a condominium association’s “bylaws shall specify an officer or his agent who shall, at least 21 days in advance of any annual or regularly scheduled meeting [of the members]… send to each unit owner notice of the time, place, and purposes of such meeting.”

The two acts differ in their provisions relating to a variety of other issues as well, such as proxies (§ 55-79.77 of the Condominium Act contains detailed provisions concerning proxies that are not found in the Property Owners’ Association Act).

The lesson is that board members and property managers need to pay close attention to the provisions of the specific applicable act, and can not just assume that the provisions of one act apply to the other form of association. When in doubt, always make the safe choice of spending a few minutes to review the provisions of the applicable act. And if you’re ever confused by or unsure of the applicability of a certain provision, don’t hesitate to contact your legal counsel for clarification.

Welcome to the Blog!

Welcome to the Virginia Community Association Legal Blog! LeClairRyan’s Community Association Team is excited to launch this resource that we hope will prove to be valuable to board members of community associations, property managers, developers, lenders, and local governing bodies. We’ll be constantly updating the blog with posts that will discuss topics of interest to our readers. Our bloggers will be discussing topics related to the governance, management, and creation of associations, as well as providing updates on all of the latest cutting-edge developments in the world of community association law.

I’d encourage you to read the “About Us” section to become more familiar with our team’s experience, and to check out the “Blogger Bios” section for each team member’s biography. Also, feel free to click on the “Webinars” tab to be linked to the database of our team’s webinars on a wide variety of topics.

Thank you for visiting our blog, and we hope that you’ll continue to check back in with us as constantly update it. We hope to be your “go to” source for information and resources on community association law.

Free Seminar by the LeClairRyan Attorneys -- April 17th

On April 17, 2010, LeClairRyan's Community Association Team will be presenting a free seminar in Williamsburg, Virginia, entitled "Advanced Legal Aspects of Community Associations."

We invite you to join attorneys Liz White, Dan Quarles, Megan Scanlon, and Will Sleeth as they will discuss four topics that board members and managers frequently encounter as they govern and manage associations: 

 

  • Leasing Restriction Amendments
  • Enforcement and Collection of Assessments and Fines
  • Board Meetings
  • Rules and Regulations and Architectural Guidelines

Resource and reference materials will be provided free of charge on a cd.

Again, the seminar will take place on April 17th, from 9 A.M. to 1 P.M., at Jamestown High School in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Space is limited and registration is required, so please click here to register, if you have not already done so. We look forward to seeing you, and encourage you to contact us if you have any questions.

 

Upcoming Webinar on POA Disclosure Packets

This Wednesday, March 31st, LeClairRyan's Community Association Industry Team will be hosting a free webinar entitled "What You Need to Know About Property Owner Association Disclosure Packets."

On Wednesday from noon to 1 P.M. EST, attorneys Lori Schweller and Liz White will discuss the Virginia Property Owners' Association Act's requirements, including when disclosure packets are required, who is responsible for requesting and providing them, what they should include, the costs of producing them, and the ramifications of non-compliance.

If you haven't already registered for this free event, click here to register now.