North Carolina HOA & Condo Association Insurance Requirements & Considerations

As North Carolina HOA/condo attorneys, we are regularly asked “What insurance policy should our association buy?” Our answer is always the same: “Talk to your insurance professional.” That’s because while an HOA/condo attorney can assist with what insurance is required by state law and the governing documents, an insurance professional can best advise on what policies are available for purchase, differences between coverage and carriers, and cost considerations. That said, as HOA/condo attorneys, we regularly advise on what types of insurance associations need to consider, their different purposes, and things to watch out for. WHAT TYPES OF INSURANCE SHOULD OUR … Continue reading

NC HOA/Condo Directors — Duties, Standards of Conduct, and Liability

Congratulations! You’ve just been elected to your HOA/condo association board of directors. Your new position shows your fellow members respect you and trust your judgment. By the way, did anyone describe your duties or mention that you could be financially responsible for actions? DIRECTOR DUTIES Almost without exception North Carolina community associations are incorporated nonprofit corporations. While that’s different than for-profit corporations (and governed by different statutes), the directors of both have similar duties. Directors of community association must: follow state laws pertaining to HOAs or condominiums enforce the association’s governing documents, including any declaration, articles of incorporation, and bylaws … Continue reading

Can My North Carolina HOA Ban Smoking?

I get asked this question frequently. With more public and private facilities now smoke-free, and the knowledge of the dangers of even remote second hand smoke widespread, non-smoking owners and board members start to wonder if they can limit or even prohibit smoking within their communities. Whether a community consists of single family homes, townhomes, condominiums or stacked units, the board of directors can probably adopt rules limiting or prohibiting smoking in common areas and limited common areas such as pools, clubhouses, tennis courts, lobbies, elevators and stair wells, and even on private patios and balconies. Most Declarations of Covenants … Continue reading

BUT I’VE NEVER HAD TO DO IT THAT WAY BEFORE! INDUSTRY PRIMER: ALL ATTORNEYS ARE DIFFERENT

To follow up on my last blog post, I have to believe that every attorney who practices has been confronted with the statement “but I’ve never had to do it that way before”.  Please believe that despite the image of attorneys driving up costs for their clients, most real estate attorneys are working off of a fee-based system and generally do not want to create unnecessary work or delays for themselves or others. Disbursements I know there are some attorneys now or in the past who would wink and pass along one or more checks at the closing table before … Continue reading

HOAs & Condos: Follow Your Bylaws & Proper Parliamentary Procedure (PART 2)

A blog I wrote in 2016 (HOA’s: Follow Your Bylaws & Proper Parliamentary Procedure) examined two opinions from the NC Court of Appeals about HOA/condo board decisions. The short takeaway from those cases for associations? FOLLOW THE RULES. A new case from the Court of Appeals issued today (June 19, 2018) again examines the requirements of an association board to take lawful action. In Homestead at Mills River Property Owners Association, Inc. v. Hyder et al., a Henderson County association brought a lawsuit against a successor developer due to a fight over Common Area. The case is lengthy (40 pages!) … Continue reading

Do Judgments Ever Expire?

Suppose you were awarded a money judgment against an opposing party but, not surprisingly, the defendant didn’t immediately write you a check to satisfy the debt. How long is your judgment valid? In North Carolina, a judgment is valid for ten years from the date it was awarded by the Court. The judgment can be renewed for another ten years, giving a judgment creditor additional time to try to collect the money owed. A judgment is renewed by filing a second lawsuit for the remaining amount due on the original judgment. This second lawsuit must be filed within ten years … Continue reading

Personalizing Your Personal Injury Claim

When people find out that I am an attorney, it is not uncommon for them to share with me their own experiences with the law.  Most often, these recollections involve a claim for personal injuries they suffered due to the negligence of a third party, like in a car crash or a slip and fall.  As a member of the legal profession, it is gratifying to hear when someone had legal representation and was pleased with the assistance they received.  All too often, however, the stories conveyed to me involve their dissatisfaction with the attorney retained or, for those who … Continue reading

South Carolina Legislative Update: Bill Affecting HOAs and Condos Signed Into Law

A South Carolina bill we have been watching for more than a year was signed into law by the governor yesterday, May 17, 2018.  House Bill 3886 is the first bill specifically directed at homeowners associations and condominiums in South Carolina and will impact how each of these types of communities operates.  Officially titled the “South Carolina Homeowners Association Act,” click here for the text of the law.   Here is a brief summary of some of the key parts of the new law: Disclosure Duty The law creates a new duty to disclose whether real property being sold is … Continue reading

Airspace Rights and Property Owners

Property owners are increasingly concerned about their rights with respect to aircraft overflying their property. The skies are becoming more and more crowded, particularly with the increased availability of unmanned aerial vehicles (e.g., “drones”). Land owners now wonder where their property rights begin and end, and what can they do about offending aircraft. The rules governing the interplay between land owner rights and aircraft rights are complex and, in some cases, unsettled. Traditionally, it was thought a property was owned from the center of the Earth to the Heavens. With the advent of modern aviation, that view has changed dramatically. … Continue reading

New Appellate Case: “Must Our Condo Association Buy Flood Insurance?”

What insurance must be purchased by an association can usually be determined by reading the governing documents and relevant NC statutes (and consulting an experienced community association insurance professional!).  The NC Condominium Act details what insurance must be purchased by a condominium association created on or after October 1, 1986 (other statutes provide for insurance requirements on older condos or planned communities). NCGS § 47C-3-113 states, among other things: Commencing not later than the time of the first conveyance of a unit to a person other than a declarant, the association shall maintain, to the extent available: (1) Property insurance … Continue reading

Proxies & Proxy Voting at Membership or Board Meetings

Proxies and Proxy Voting at Membership Meetings Our attorneys get lots of questions about proxies and proxy voting. And that’s understandable, as proxy issues at meetings can get very confusing. A proxy is similar to a power of attorney as could be used to open a bank account or sell a car for another person. If proxies are permitted at a meeting, the proxy can likely be given to any person or entity. That’s because the person carrying the proxy isn’t really who is at the meeting–the proxy giver is. FYI, most parliamentary books like Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised … Continue reading

Dispute Resolution Committee Comments

Last week I was invited to address the Legislative Research Commission’s Committee on Dispute Resolution Options for Homeowners, Associations and Governing Entities. The committee’s charge is to explore the “creation of a mediation or arbitration board” to handle community association disputes, and I was asked to share my thoughts. My comments to the Committee are below. FYI, almost all lawsuits filed in North Carolina’s District or Superior Courts are sent to either mediation or arbitration. And state law currently requires that community associations notify members each year of their right to request mediation. While I am an active proponent of … Continue reading

Can we just enforce the rules we like?

Most board members don’t relish the idea of fining their friends and neighbors for minor infractions of their community’s restrictive covenants. Boards are typically willing to issue fines and citations when an owner has piles of garbage in their front yard, windows and siding falling off the exterior, or nipping dogs running around common areas off leash. But what about the situation with the owner who occasionally has to bring a company work van home overnight and park it in the driveway- and the Declaration of Covenants says no commercial vehicles parked in driveways? Or the environmentally friendly owner who … Continue reading

Transgender Issues in Community Associations

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the annual Community Association Institute Law Seminar. One of the topics covered at the seminar was transgender issues in community associations.  We all know that community associations are microcosms of the society at large, and transgender issues are no exception. Transgender persons face violence, discrimination in the workplace, educational challenges, and health concerns.  Relevant to community associations, they also face significant hurdles related to housing.  A report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS), looking at almost 28,000 transgender persons in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico … Continue reading

New Charlotte Address & Firm News

We’re excited to announce our new, larger Charlotte office! Note our new Charlotte address: 1927 South Tryon St., Suite 100, Charlotte, NC 28203. The Charlotte phone number at 704-970-1593 remains the same.     This has been a busy and exciting year for our firm, so here are some updates and recent recognitions: Our Greensboro office expanded to take over neighboring office space (but has kept the same address). Four attorneys joined our firm this past year to assist with HOA/condo and real estate matters: Harmony Taylor, Brad Jones, Chris Rivers and Jason Pruett. For more information on any of … Continue reading

Fining For Violations-Proper Process is Key

Our clients often ask us what can be done about homeowners who are clearly violating the Association’s governing documents.  Both the North Carolina Planned Community and Condominium Acts (“Acts”) have mirror provisions and procedures for the imposition of fines.  Imposing fines often causes a great amount of heartburn for Boards as they are tasked with enforcing the Association’s governing documents against a neighbor.  While it can be an uncomfortable position to be in, our advice is that if the Board is not willing to enforce their governing documents, the documents might as well not exist. Furthermore, if Associations ignore violations … Continue reading

2018 Law Seminar Follow-Up & Firm News

Each year several of our HOA/condo attorneys attend the annual community association Law Seminar presented by the College of Community Association Lawyers and the Community Associations Institute. The Law Seminar has excellent HOA/condo speakers and programs, and this year was no exception. There were some 20 education sessions, including discussions of Fair Housing Act developments, the explosion of assistance animal issues in community associations, protecting association names and websites, dealing with hoarders, and the fiduciary obligations of board members. A goal for attorneys who attend the Law Seminar is to come back with a better feel for trends that will … Continue reading

South Carolina Court of Appeals Reiterates Importance of Clear Rental Restrictions

I am often asked by homeowners, property managers, and HOA boards to review restrictive covenants to determine whether their community may restrict leasing in some way.  The usual answer is “it depends,” and the South Carolina Court of Appeals made it clear in Community Services Associates, Inc. v. Wall that restrictive covenants must be clear in order to prevent leasing. Covenants that restrict the free use of property are disfavored by the law.  Therefore, courts in North Carolina and South Carolina require that any restrictive covenant in a homeowners association or condominium be clear and unambiguous.  So long as they … Continue reading