Q&A on Holding In-Person Association Member Meetings

Now that North Carolina allows larger in-person gatherings (see NC Easing Covid Restrictions), many of our homeowner and condominium associations are wondering if it is time to restart in-person membership meetings. Here are questions and answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about meetings that we’ve received. Can HOA/condo associations begin holding in-person membership meetings again? Perhaps. There are two aspects to the question: (1) CAN the association membership meeting be held in person?, and (2) SHOULD the association membership meeting be held in person? As with other state Executive Orders, the question of whether members can gather … Continue reading

Significant Flood Insurance Changes On the Way

If you or your association are required (or wish) to have flood insurance, big changes are coming. For years, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has looked at ways to better charge specific properties for their specific risks. At present, flood insurance rates are mostly based on a property’s location and elevation. That may not be the case much longer. On April 1, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced its first major flood insurance pricing updates in half a century. During 2021-2022 the Agency will begin basing premiums on a property’s value, risk of flooding, and other factors. The … Continue reading

To Open (or Not Open) HOA and Condo Pools in North and South Carolina

One of the most frequent questions we receive is whether it is “OK,” “allowed,” or “legal” for homeowners associations or condominiums to open their pool this spring. Every community is different and boards of directors will have to make the decision to open based on several factors, including the type of community, whether that community has the resources to comply with CDC and local guidelines, and whether it can comply with any state requirements that may apply. Each board of directors must make its decision based on its best business judgment after appropriate due diligence. Just because the state or the … Continue reading

NC Easing Covid Restrictions

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced today that Executive Order #204 (“Further Easing of Restrictions on Business and Gatherings”) will take effect this Friday, March 26 at 5 pm. It’s always difficult to summarize lengthy Executive Orders, and this one is 27 pages long with 9 appendixes for different types of venues/businesses. With the caveat that this post has some HIGHLIGHTS and is not a replacement for the Executive Order, here are some provisions that may be of interest to North Carolina homeowner and condominium associations. (FYI, anything capitalized is capitalized and defined in greater detail in the Order .) … Continue reading

Update on Emergency Authorization of Remote Notarizations

The saga continues in this third entry of the three-part series (so far) on North Carolina’s authorization of emergency video notarizations during the pandemic.  As of March 12, 2021, Governor Roy Cooper signed House Bill 196 into law, which allows video notarization to continue through December 31, 2021.   The Bill acts to amend the previous authorization which expired on March 1, 2021, and appears to have retroactive effect to save any brave soul who continued remote notarizations after the Bill’s expiration date. At this time, there is still no indication that permanent authorization of remote notarizations is in the works … Continue reading

Proposed Solar Bill in South Carolina May Affect Homeowners Associations

As the weather begins to warm and the sun shows its face a little longer each day, many homeowners start to consider the option of installing solar panels on their property to take advantage of those rays. With legislative changes in the past few years, South Carolina has become a more welcoming state for solar companies. As a result, many homeowners associations (both single family communities and townhomes) have started seeing more and more applications from homeowners to install some type of solar panel technology on their property. Up to now there has not been any sort of state law … Continue reading

Governor Extends Order Allowing Virtual Membership Meetings

Community association leaders and managers have been asking if the Governor would extend the ability to hold electronic membership meetings beyond March 1. The answer as of today is “yes.” On December 31, 2020, Governor Cooper issued Executive Order #185 entitled Extending Prior Executive Orders on Remote Shareholder and Nonprofit Meetings During the COVID-10 State of Emergency. EO #185 extended earlier orders allowing for nonprofit membership meetings to meet virtually so long as certain conditions are met. However, Executive Order #185 had a expiration date of this coming Monday, March 1. A separate Executive Order #195 was issued this past … Continue reading

Remote Notarizations to Sunset on March 1

As the sunset date approaches for remote notarizations under the temporary emergency authorization, it is now apparent that the legislature will not agree on a bill authorizing a further extension before the expiration. Therefore, we will revert to the notarial requirement of “close physical proximity” on March 1, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.   Folks in the know believe that there is legislative support for either an extension of the emergency statute or its permanent authorization and codification. However, other non-related budget aspects of the bill are causing a delay (insert your cynical political comment here).  Additionally, it is speculated that when … Continue reading

NC Executive Order Increases Attendance at Association Meetings

The Governor’s latest Executive Order, EO No. 195 issued this week, really isn’t about nonprofit corporations or homeowner and condominium associations. The Executive Order is instead aimed at easing COVID-19 restrictions on businesses, including restaurants and bars. However, there is one section that may be of interest to North Carolina HOAs and condos. For many months now, North Carolina’s pandemic gathering restrictions have limited indoor meeting attendance to 10 and outdoor meeting attendance to 25 “at the same time in a single confined indoor or outdoor space.” Executive Order #195 increases these in-person attendance caps to 25 for indoor meetings … Continue reading

Snow and Ice Removal in HOAs and Condos

North Carolina may not see the same weather challenges as most other states, but we aren’t immune from winter (and spring) storms that bring snow and ice that can make travel treacherous.  No board of directors wants to find itself scrambling after the fact to decide how or when to put down salt or scrape a road or parking lot. Here are some general issues to consider, and recommended best practices. DEFINE THE AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY HOA and condo associations are generally obligated to reasonably maintain the common areas within the association. This often includes any private roads within the … Continue reading

Special Meetings in NC & SC Homeowners Associations and Condominiums

Community associations (homeowners associations and condominiums) hold several different types of membership meetings.  Most will hold an annual meeting at which typical agenda items are common:  reviewing or ratifying a budget, electing new members to the board of directors, and other regular business.  Sometimes the governing documents for the association will specify the exact date of the meeting and sometimes they will leave it to the discretion of the board of directors.  Another type of membership meeting that often occurs is a special meeting.  To call these meetings “special” is really just a way to distinguish them from regularly scheduled … Continue reading

Does a Virtual Membership Meeting Keep Minutes?

We’ve recently been asked if there should be minutes of a North Carolina association membership meeting held virtually pursuant to the Governor‘s temporary Executive Order. The short and best answer is “yes.” Why? Most all North Carolina homeowner and condominium associations are incorporated nonprofits. The NC Nonprofit Corporation Act provides that “minutes of all membership meetings” are one of the records a nonprofit corporation “shall keep.” Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (12th Edition), the default statutory parliamentary authority for NC community associations, also provides that minutes should be kept of an annual meeting. The temporary Executive Order that allows … Continue reading

Fair Housing Act Expanded to Include Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing due to a person based on the person’s membership in specific “protected classes.” Protected classes to date have included race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, and disability. In short, the FHA is designed to protect people from discrimination when they are buying a home, renting, obtaining a mortgage, seeking housing assistance, or engaging in other housing-related activities, which can include actions of homeowner and condominium associations. (A list of examples of housing discrimination can be found at HUD’s Housing Discrimination under the Fair Housing Act page.) Last week (February 11, … Continue reading

Automatic-Renewal Contract Clauses

Consider this hot-off-the-press from an agreement I reviewed this morning: “If neither party has given the other thirty (30) days written notice of the desire to terminate this Agreement at the end of the any given contract period, then the term shall be automatically renewed for an additional contract period term.” As service providers—e.g., landscapers, vendors, and pool services—aim to retain clients, an increasing presence in service contracts is the automatic-renewal clause (“Evergreen Clause”). Essentially, an Evergreen Clause provides for automatic renewal following the expiration of an agreement. That is, granting prior consent to extend the term of an agreement … Continue reading

Differences Between Virtual and In-Person Large Annual Meetings or Conventions

[NOTE: This article follows-up Lessons Learned from Large Virtual Conventions, Representative Assemblies, and House of Delegate Meetings, which examined the practical and procedural aspects of large online meetings.] At this point, the genie of virtual meetings is out of the bottle. And likely not to go back in. While it was inevitable that electronic meetings would become more commonplace, the pandemic has instantly made everyone fairly expert at Zoom, GotoMeeting, Microsoft Teams, and other virtual platforms. There is clear benefit to online collaboration, particularly with smaller meetings. Boards of 10 to 25 (or possibly more) can sometimes meet online much … Continue reading

Yes, You Can Hold a Productive North Carolina Annual HOA/Condo Meeting During a Pandemic

In these first few weeks of 2021, we’ve heard from a number of associations who never got around to holding their 2020 annual membership meeting. That’s understandable given how difficult 2020 was. COVID-19 made large in-person gatherings extremely difficult and sometimes impossible. Various state Executive Orders have at times restricted attendance at meetings from only 25 to fewer. (10 is currently the number of members who can be present at an indoor association meeting.) As a result, many associations decided to wait to hold the annual meeting until things improved. But here we are, one year after the first US … Continue reading

Estate Planning in a Pandemic: Remote Document Signings are the Now and Hopefully the Future

A global pandemic will certainly induce one to consider his or her own mortality and, as such, initiate a revisit or beginning of their estate plan.  But paradoxically, the pandemic has also made it more difficult for us to venture out to ensure these matters are in order.  Many nursing homes across the state of North Carolina are on lock down due to the pandemic, making it more difficult to discuss any loose ends of an estate plan with a distressed loved one residing in a care facility.  Despite the increased difficulty during the pandemic, with the emergence of Zoom … Continue reading

North Carolina Medicaid Planning: The Basics

In general, everyone is entitled to enroll in Medicare when they turn 65, which acts as their health insurance for general health care, hospital or doctor visits.  However, while Medicare and supplemental plans may pay for rehab for the first 20 days and a portion up to the 100th day in some cases, Medicare does not pay for long-term care in a skilled nursing or assisted living facility.  The average monthly cost of a skilled nursing facility is around $9,500.  This means you could easily spend through a lifetime of savings in only a short couple of years in a … Continue reading

The Fundamentals of Trusts: Broad Terminology for a Nuanced Field of Study

Trusts are a topic that seem to be often discussed but seldom understood among the general public.  This is not an indictment of a misinformed public, but a commentary on the wealth of information and various channels through which it flows.  Your Google search results, your local banker or even a co-worker may claim to have all the insight on how to plan your estate and “get your affairs in order.”  Clients often tell me they “need a living trust.”  When I ask why they need one, they are unsure how to answer.  I do not ask the question to … Continue reading

We Are Here to Help! Ask Our HOA/Condo Attorneys for Help in the New Year!

Finally it is a new year!  2020 is over, and hopefully brighter days are ahead for you, your families, and your communities.  Whether it was a product of a struggling economy or a certain hesitancy to ask an attorney for help and guidance, in the last year our firm saw a surprising number of requests to finalize an amendment recording when we had not been involved in the underlying discussion regarding whether or not an amendment should be pursued in the first place or the actual amendment language itself.  This is concerning for several reasons.  First, without being involved in … Continue reading