Before sending your email to us, please note and understand the following:

This website provides general information about LeClairRyan, its practice areas and professional staff. It is not intended to provide you with legal advice with respect to a matter that you may have.

Until such time as LeClairRyan has resolved all potential conflicts of interest in accepting your representation and has agreed to be engaged as your legal counsel, you are not represented by LeClairRyan or any of its attorneys and have not become a client of the Firm.

Sending this email or otherwise contacting LeClairRyan does not create an attorney-client relationship. By sending information to us, you are not creating an attorney-client relationship, and no disclosure by you before this firm agrees to represent you will prohibit this firm from representing any person or entity adverse to you.

Only if, and after, LeClairRyan has confirmed to you that it is willing and able to represent you should you, send the Firm any information or documents that you consider private or confidential. Such information will not be treated as private, confidential or otherwise protected from disclosure until LeClairRyan has confirmed that it is able and willing to represent you.

If you choose to ignore this warning and submit any information that you believe or otherwise assert to be confidential or privileged, then by clicking on the “Accept” button, you agree that your submission will not preclude LeClairRyan from representing a client in a matter adverse to you where that information could be used against you.
Accept Cancel
OK

Webinar: How to Protect Yourself and HOA from the Neighborhood Sociopath

Run into any owners or residents who show contempt for and consistently disregard your HOA's rules? Then you'll want to join us for a cutting-edge webinar on October 15 (2:00 - 3:00 pm ET) on how to wisely and safely handle the most difficult owners and residents you'll ever face. 

You'll learn:

  • The basics about sociopaths and persons with antisocial personality disorder and why their behavior is particularly destructive in a community association
  • Common types of sociopaths, along with what motivates them
  • The sociopaths you may encounter as a board member based on real-life examples, such as an owner who's a member a sovereign citizens movement and doesn't recognize any authority, including your HOA
  • Tips to help you tackle the difficult task of identifying sociopaths, whether they're owners or fellow board members
  • Practical information to help you respond constructively to the actions of sociopaths you can't ignore, including things you should be especially concerned about in dealing with sociopaths
  • Information you can use to protect yourself and your HOA

In just 60 minutes, you'll hear valuable information you can use now to be smarter when it comes to lessening the damage caused by the most difficult owners, residents, and board members.

For more information and registration visit: www.HOALeader.com

 

Special Assessments: How to Avoid Them When Possible, and Pass Them When Needed

The odds are strong that at some point in an association's history, it will experience the need for a special assessment. HOAleader.com, a national web-based publication, is hosting a live webinar on the topic: "Special Assessments: How to Avoid Them When Possible, and Pass Them when Needed."

Elizabeth White, LeClairRyan shareholder and leader of LeClairRyan's national Community Association Industry Team, will be one of two presenters selected by HOAleader.com to speak and share her valuable expertise during this webinar. Along with nuts and bolts about how to go about adopting a special assessment and the consideration of alternatives to a special assessment, Ms. White will share some lessons learned on the communication and risk management side and offer tips for minimizing challenges to a special assessment.

For more information, or to register for this webinar, visit: www.hoaleader.com

 

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.

Continue Reading...

How To Get Involved With Your Community Association

The biggest way to have an impact on your community association is to obtain a seat on the board of directors (the "Board"). However, if your association is still under developer control (and the developer appoints the directors) this might not be possible. In addition, a position on the Board is a serious commitment and creates a fiduciary duty of the director to act in the best interest of the association. Serving on a Board often entails a substantial commitment of time and effort for the betterment of your association. As mentioned in our blog post dated October 31, 2012 by my colleague Liz White, the responsibility and time commitment associated with being on an association Board can be daunting to many people, and the time commitment could dissuade many people from running for such a position.

Continue Reading...

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. 

Continue Reading...

How Far Does an HOA President's Power Extend? Discussion Forum Follow-Up

An HOAleader.com reader writes, "Our HOA board recently agreed [to] fire the landscape vendor because of poor service. At a regular meeting of the board this was discussed and agreed that [we] needed a new landscape service. The minutes read as follows 'Landscape was given notice and will be done middle of July. Board is getting new quotes and will decide on a new vendor as soon as possible.'

"The contract was signed before submitting information to the board. No bids were presented to the board for a vote. The president feels that as CEO he had full authority to transact this business before reporting to the board. Do you believe that the president's actions were okay? Our policies and procedures call for three vendor bids and vote by board for special projects. I assumed that this held true for pool vendors and landscape vendors. It was done in this manner by previous boards according to minutes. I am also a current board member and would like to just make sure that the board stays on track."

Can a president sign this contract without the board's approval? And did the president have a conflict of interest here?

Click here to read the entire article.

Can't Fill That Open HOA Board Seat? Try These Suggestions

In this week's tip, we give you two suggestions for coping when you can't get anybody to run for an open board seat.

All of our experts have seen this issue arise to varying degrees. "We've had this problem," says Elizabeth White, a shareholder and head of the community associations practice at the law firm of LeClairRyan in Williamsburg, Va. "Often we have this at transition, where owners aren't happy with the developer and they think that by holding out and not running for the board, they're going to put pressure on the developer. I've also had it because of apathy and you don't have a big enough pool of volunteers."

What's the big problem when it comes to open board seats? That may affect your ability to operate the association. "The board needs a quorum to do business," says Raymond Daniel Burke, who represents an average of 20 community associations. "And if there's a vacancy of an officer who's necessary for things like signatures on checks, it becomes very consequential that you have that vacancy."

Click here to read the entire article.

What Happens When Nobody Runs for the HOA Board?

An HOAleader.com reader wants to know what happens when nobody runs for any open board seats. Here our experts give the lowdown.

Check Your Remedies
All of our experts have seen this issue arise to varying degrees. "We've had this problem," says Elizabeth White, a shareholder and head of the community associations practice at the law firm of LeClairRyan in Williamsburg, Va. "Often we have this at transition, where owners aren't happy with the developer and they think that by holding out and not running for the board, they're going to put pressure on the developer. I've also had it because of apathy and you don't have a big enough pool of volunteers."

Click here to read the entire article.

HOAs and Pool Lifts: Compliance Deadline Extended

LeClairRyan Community Association Team member Brian Muse recently blogged about the time extension under the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) for compliance with pool lift requirements, something that every HOA with a pool should be aware of. Check out Brian's post over at his new blog ADA Musings. While you're there, you'll find that his blog contains many other helpful articles that HOA community managers, board members, and developers should be aware of.

 

What Should Your HOA Do to Prevent Hoarding?

Hoarding is a growing problem for associations because of the increased risk of fire in multi–family buildings like condos.

What obligation—and right—do you have to regularly inspect your association's units for dangers that would prevent first–responders from doing their job in an emergency? Here we discuss best practices to prevent hoarding.

"The hoarding concern is a new issue in terms of public awareness, and the consideration of what that means in a condo building hasn't been undertaken by a lot of boards," says Matthew A. Drewes, a partner at Thomsen & Nybeck PA in Edina, Minn., who represents associations. "When you're talking to someone and asking to, in their mind, snoop around and evaluate how they live, it's a really touchy circumstance. But it's definitely worth thinking about."

It's also a difficult issue because it may implicate mental health issues. "Very often, you're dealing with someone with a mental illness, which means boards have the whole issue of accommodation of a disability, where you have to tread carefully," says Elizabeth White.  "As Americans are aging in place, associations could encounter more problems because of mental health issues like early– or late–onset of dementia.

Click here to read the entire article.

What Happens When a HOA Owner Dies?

Our population is aging and studies now show that the nation-wide housing trend is for owners to "age in place."  This trend has a lot of consequences for community associations and the boards and managers who oversee their operations.  With more and more owners choosing to stay in their independent living homes (as opposed to moving into assisted living or continuing care facilities), many associations are now grappling with the consequences.  These consequences include, for example, taking steps to ensure compliance with Federal and state Fair Housing laws which require associations to accommodate persons with disabilities.  But what happens when an owner dies?  Are there steps that the association should take?  The national online magazine, HOAleader.com, addressed this sensitive issue in its article, "What Happens When a HOA Owner Dies?".  LeClairRyan's national Community Association law practice leader, Elizabeth White, notes in the article, "This is an area in which you want to tread lightly and respectfully." 

To read the article, click here.

Should Managers Attend--and Participate In--HOA Meetings?

 What role should managers play in HOA board meetings? Elizabeth White, LeClairRyan's Community Association Law team leader, shares her advice with the national online newsmagazine, HOAleader.com, in it's article, "Should Managers Attend - and Participate In - HOA Meetings?"

To read the article, click here.

What Should You Share about Pending HOA Litigation?

Have you struggled as a board with what, if anything, you should tell your members when your association is sued?  The online publication, HOAleader.com, asked leading community association attorneys across the nation the question: "What Should You Share About Pending HOA Litigation?" and published their answers. LeClairRyan shareholder attorney, Elizabeth White, who leads LecLairRyan's national community association industry team, shares her expertise in the article.

To read a copy of the article, click here.

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.

 

HOA Meetings Via Webcast?

May your community association legally conduct meetings via webcast? Should it conduct meetings in that manner? What are some of the legal risks related to using emerging technology in the context of meetings? HOAleader recently interviewed LeClairRyan's Liz White on this topic. Check out the full article here.

LeClairRyan Community Association Team to be Blogging Live from the Virginia Leadership Retreat

Members of LeClairRyan's Community Association Industry Team will be blogging live from the Homestead this weekend, at the annual Virginia Leadership Retreat. The conference will run from July 29 -31, and will feature an array of networking events and presentations by some of the leaders of the community association industry in Virginia. LeClairRyan will be making the largest showing by any law firm in Virginia, with 8 of its attorneys attending.

If you're unable to make the retreat, be sure to check-in with the blog for updates on the events. If you're attending the retreat, feel free to check-in too!

 

 

What Duties Should An HOA Board Not Delegate to Its Manager?

What are some duties that HOA boards should ensure that they perform as opposed to delegating to their manager?  Liz White was recently interviewed by HOAleader.com on this topic. In the interview, Liz discusses 9 responsibilities that boards should ensure they perform. Check out the full article here.

Records Inspection Requests by Members: An Overview

 A reader recently asked us to comment on members' rights to inspect their property owners’ association’s books and records, such as financial information and meeting minutes, pursuant to the Property Owners’ Association Act.

A member’s right to inspect records is not only governed by the provisions of the Property Owners’ Association Act, but also by the provisions contained within the Virginia Nonstock Corporation Act. The provisions of the two acts must be read in conjunction with each other, and therefore the interested member should review not only § 55-510 of the Property Owners’ Association Act in order to understand his rights, but also §§ 13.1-932 – 934 of the Virginia Nonstock Corporation Act as well.

This blog post is limited to a discussion of the provisions contained within the Property Owners’ Association Act, and at some future time we will likely make a post regarding the inspection provisions contained in the Virginia Nonstock Corporation Act.

Continue Reading...

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.

Disclosure Packets and Financial Updates

We received the following question relating to disclosure packets and financial updates: Va. Code § 55-509.9 provides that settlement agents may request escrow instructions from the disclosure packet preparer, who would be the association manager in the case of a professionally managed association. No fee may be charged for escrow instructions, whereas an association manager may charge a $50 fee for a financial update. Settlement agents and other parties involved in the sale of a property (e.g. real estate agents) regularly request written confirmation of outstanding assessments, special assessments, HOA insurance coverage, insurance agent contact information, etc. Since this information is in the disclosure packet already provided, does this information qualify as a “financial update” for which a fee may be charged? Is there a definition of what is included in a settlement agent request that is not subject to a fee and one that is?

Continue Reading...

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.

POA Disclosure Packets Webinar -- Q&A Follow-up

Thank you to all those who participated in our March 31st webinar on POA Disclosure Packets. To follow up, the following are answers to those questions you submitted that were left unanswered at the end of the program. Thank you for your insightful questions!

Q. Is HB 702, the new law regarding time of payment for disclosure packets (effective July 1, 2010), applicable to professionally managed associations as well as self-managed associations? 

A. The new law will apply only to self-managed associations. For the time being, professionally-managed associations should continue to ensure that fees for disclosure packets are collected at settlement.

Q. Must a copy of an insurance document or certificate for the Association be included in the disclosure packet, or only a notation of the coverage amount?

A. The disclosure packet must include a "statement setting forth what insurance coverage is provided for all lot owners by the association, including the fidelity bond maintained by the association, and what additional insurance would normally be secured by each individual lot owner." A document from the insurance company is not required.

Continue Reading...

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.

Property Listings & Residential Purchase Agreement: How to Check the Right Box

Anyone selling a lot or home that is part of a Property Owners’ Association (POA) is responsible for providing potential lot purchasers with information about the POA, referred as a “disclosure packet.” Sellers rely on their associations to provide complete and current disclosure packets to prospective purchasers. If a POA is managed by a POA manager, the POA’s contract with the manager typically gives the manager this responsibility. 

It’s not always obvious that a property is or is not part of a POA, so it’s a good idea for the seller to know and to share this information with his realtor. A purchaser’s first clue that a property is part of a POA comes from the property listing prepared by the seller’s realtor. And, of course, the residential purchase contract must disclose whether or not the property is part of a POA. 

Unfortunately, sometimes sellers and realtors are not sure which box to check when preparing property listings and residential contracts. To avoid unintentional misrepresentation, here are some guidelines from the Virginia Code:

The Virginia POA Act does not apply to every subdivision subject to a recorded declaration. It applies only to “developments” (a defined term) subject to a “declaration” (another defined term) initially recorded after January 1, 1959 and to subdivisions created under the former Subdivided Land Sales Act (§ 55-536 et seq.), which is superseded by the POA Act.

The following five elements must be present for a “development”:

  1. lots, at least some of which are
  2. residential or recreational;
  3. common area;
  4. automatic membership in an association; and
  5. (potential) obligation to pay assessments.

And, a “declaration” must do one or both of the following:

  1. impose responsibilities on the association to maintain or operate the common area; and/or
  2. give the association authority to impose on lots or their owners a mandatory obligation to pay money in connection with such responsibilities. (I stress “authority” because sometimes an association may have the authority but not have a regular assessment in place.)

So, even if a neighborhood looks like a development and is subject to a recorded declaration, it is not a “development” for purposes of the Property Owners Association Act unless each lot owner is a member of an association, the association has a duty to maintain common area, and the declaration gives the association the power to charge mandatory assessments against the lot owner.