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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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Will Sleeth Speaks at James City County Neighborhood Leaders Forum

LeClairRyan attorney Will Sleeth recently spoke at the James City County Neighborhood Leaders Forum on community association law issues. Will was invited to speak on a panel, along with several other attorneys (including the Virginia Common Interest Community Ombudsman, Heather Gillespie, and Deputy James City County Attorney Adam Kinsman), to discuss an array of recent developments in community association law.

The James City County Neighborhood Leaders Forum meetings take place every few months, and consist of various educational presentations and dialogue sessions hosted by the County Administrator, geared towards members and directors of homeowners associations in James City County. For more information on the James City County Neighborhood Leaders Forum, please click here.

 

What Should HOAs Learn from the Trayvon Martin Tragedy?

What does the tragic death of Trayvon Martin have to do with HOAs?

The Feb. 26, 2012, fatal shooting of the teenager by an informal neighborhood watch leader, George Zimmerman, occurred on the grounds of The Retreat at Twin Lakes Association, a Sandford, Fla., homeowners association where Martin was visiting and Zimmerman lived.

Martin's death has triggered soul–searching throughout the country. It should also prompt reevaluation among HOA boards if, as many news outlets have reported, Martin's parents are contemplating a lawsuit against the HOA because it allegedly endorsed Zimmerman's crimewatch activities.

Why is that a problem, and what should HOAs do when it comes to crimewatch programs? Here are some answers.

HOA May Be in Trouble

"The very tragic Martin case leads to interesting issues for HOAs, but they're not new," says Elizabeth White, a shareholder and head of the community associations practice at the law firm of LeClairRyan in Williamsburg, Va. "We've seen instances like this before, where neighborhood watch individuals have crossed the line and taken on the role of law enforcement. HOAs have been dealing for years with neighborhood watch issues and how to structure neighborhood watches."

An HOA isn't liable for damages simply because a crime happens on its grounds. Where The Retreat may have gone wrong is in allegedly holding Zimmerman out as a resource for residents to contact regarding crime. The evidence, if numerous reports are true, is a newsletter sent to The Retreat's residents the same month Zimmerman fatally shot Martin. Though no media outlets have produced a copy of the newsletter, many report that under the heading "Neighborhood Watch," the HOA recommended that residents who become crime victims first call police and then contact "our Captain, George Zimmerman...so he can be aware and help address the issue with other residents."

Click here to read the entire article.

Trayvon Martin Tragedy Hits Close to Home for HOAs

In this week's tip, we offer lessons for HOAs from the very sad death of Trayvon Martin.

The Feb. 26, 2012, fatal shooting of the teenager by an informal neighborhood watch leader, George Zimmerman, occurred on the grounds of The Retreat at Twin Lakes Association, a Sandford, Fla., homeowners association where Martin was visiting and Zimmerman lived.

"The very tragic Martin case leads to interesting issues for HOAs, but they're not new," says Elizabeth White, a shareholder and head of the community associations practice at the law firm of LeClairRyan in Williamsburg, Va. "We've seen instances like this before, where neighborhood watch individuals have crossed the line and taken on the role of law enforcement. HOAs have been dealing for years with neighborhood watch issues and how to structure neighborhood watches."

Click here to read the entire article.