Making America Ethical (and Civil) Again

I often note that community associations are effectively microcosms of our larger culture, facing the same challenges and trends. One example of this is the increase in (real or perceived) lack of civility and ethics in communications with and between boards and their members. This past week, the Community Association Institute (CAI), an international membership organization that provides information, education and resources related to community associations, published a newly adopted Civility Pledge as a resource for communities to foster civil discourse. The Civility Pledge, linked here, is an excellent resource for boards wishing to support a more respectful dialogue. The … Continue reading

The Attorney-Client Privilege and Community Associations

Authored by Hamony Taylor and David Wilson As our community association clients settle into a new year and new issues, many boards with new members find themselves with questions or confusion about the attorney-client privilege. Because this privilege is complicated but incredibly important, we thought it would be helpful to go over the basics and how boards can and should preserve the privilege. Very generally, in both North and South Carolina, the attorney-client privilege protects communications between an attorney and a client in the following circumstances: The parties were in an attorney/client relationship. It is not necessary that the client … Continue reading

What is Property Title?

What exactly is title? The practice of real estate concerns understanding how property is affected by a property owner in the chain of title. An owner of property can restrict and convey property while they own it. Once they convey the property, they no longer have the ability to restrict or convey that property but the property remains subject to the restrictions they placed on it while they did own it. Similarly, personal judgments and liens can attach to real property while it is owned by an individual. Judgment creditors can execute their judgment to partition and/or sell the property … Continue reading

Black, Slaughter & Black Attorney Featured at South Carolina Community Association Institute Annual Law Day & Expo January 9, 2020 in Myrtle Beach

The annual Expo and Law Day of the South Carolina Chapter of the Community Associations Institute (CAI) will be held Thursday, January 9, 2020 in Myrtle Beach at the Sports Convention Center (2115 Farlow Street).  Attendees will include community association professionals and community leaders from across South Carolina. David Wilson with Black, Slaughter & Black will be featured at 4:00 during a Q & A session to wrap up the educational sessions being offered.   The full schedule and registration information can be found at the 2020 SC CAI Expo and Law Day page.

HOA & Condo Assessments: What Can & Can’t Be Collected from an Owner

Obligation to Pay Assessments Homeowner dues (legally called “assessments” by statute) are the lifeblood of an association. Most all HOAs and condominium are nonprofit corporations. That is, community associations are not designed to make money; they are designed to pay the association’s bills. Associations basically act as agents for collections by other entities—water, garbage, electricity, landscaping. The funds collected are not kept by the association, but are forwarded to other parties, including the government. For example, many of our associations pay the premiums insuring all units each year. Unless assessments can be collected the association will owe debts but not … Continue reading

Can Community Privileges or Services Be Suspended?

We are often asked what can be done when a homeowner is violating the governing documents.  That answer depends on the language of the association’s declaration, and whether or not the association is subject to the North Carolina Planned Community Act or Condominium Act.  Quite frequently, the answer results in a discussion on the association’s ability to issue fines to owners who are in violation.  However, the same North Carolina statutes that grant the ability to issue fines also grant the association the ability to suspend community privileges or services. As with issuing fines, an owner’s community privileges or services … Continue reading

It’s Time for a Comprehensive HOA Statute in South Carolina

With the recent decision in Winrose Homeowners’ Association, Inc. v. Hale the South Carolina Supreme Court proved that it is past time for a comprehensive HOA statute in South Carolina.  For more in-depth analysis of the Court’s decision, see our earlier article. Suffice it to say, throughout its decision the Court expressed discomfort with some practices that have grown up surrounding HOA foreclosures in this state.  But it is important to note what it did not say as well.  The Court did not say that HOAs could not foreclose.  In fact, it specifically stated that the HOA in this case … Continue reading

New 2020 Tax Law Ends The Stretch IRA

Under the law prior to January 1, 2020, if you inherited an IRA you could stretch out the required minimum distributions over your own lifetime. Stretching an IRA in this way allowed beneficiaries to receive income but also continue to realize the benefits of a tax advantaged investment. This tax benefit has now been killed by the new law signed by President Trump last week as part of the government’s spending bill. Under the new “Secure Act” which stands for “Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement” effective January 1, 2020, anyone who inherits an IRA (with an exception if … Continue reading

SC Supreme Court Finds HOA Foreclosure Over $250 “Unconscionable”

Authored by Jim Slaughter & Jason Pruett In an opinion issued yesterday (December 18, 2019), the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that an HOA foreclosure for $250 was unconscionable given the specific facts of that case. The ruling is in Winrose Homeowners’ Association, Inc. and Regime Solutions, LLC v. Hale. In Winrose, the homeowners bought their property in 1998 for $104,250, but in 2011 fell behind in their association assessment payments. The HOA filed a Complaint seeking foreclosure for nonpayment of dues. After the Complaint was filed, the homeowners received and paid a bill to the Association for $250, which … Continue reading

SC Supreme Court Finds HOA Foreclosure Over $250 “Unconscionable”

Authored by Jason Pruett & Jim Slaughter In an opinion issued yesterday (December 18, 2019), the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that an HOA foreclosure for $250 was unconscionable given the specific facts of that case. The ruling is in Winrose Homeowners’ Association, Inc. and Regime Solutions, LLC v. Hale. In Winrose, the homeowners bought their property in 1998 for $104,250, but in 2011 fell behind in their association assessment payments. The HOA filed a Complaint seeking foreclosure for nonpayment of dues. After the Complaint was filed, the homeowners received and paid a bill to the Association for $250, which … Continue reading

New Appellate Case: Is Your Architectural Process Fair and Reasonable? (Hint: It Better Be!)

In a decision issued today (December 17, 2019), the North Carolina Court of Appeals examined the authority of an association to review and deny submitted architectural plans. This is the second architectural committee decision from the Court of Appeals this year. (See “Don’t Screw Up Your Architectural Committee and Approval Process”) Duff v. The Sanctuary at Lake Wylie Property Owners Association, Inc. is an “unpublished opinion,” which means the decision is not controlling legal authority and should not be cited in other cases. However, even unpublished opinions give a sense of the Court’s thinking as to specific issues and how … Continue reading

New Bill Introduced That Would Provide Disaster Relief To Homeowners Associations And Condominiums

At Black, Slaughter & Black, P.A., we closely monitor pending legislation that could affect our HOA and condominium clients.  One federal bill that may impact many communities, especially those near the coast or in locations where storm damage is more likely, is the Disaster Assistance Equity Act.  This bill was just introduced as H.R. 5337 in the House and would extend disaster relief funds to community associations where that relief was not previously available.  H.R. 5337 appears to have bipartisan support, making it more likely to eventually be signed into law in some fashion. According to the Community Association Institute … Continue reading

To Tow or Not to Tow?

One of the “hot-button” questions we receive from HOAs is about their authority to tow vehicles that are improperly parked in the subdivision. The primary question that the HOA needs to ask is whether the vehicle they want to tow is parked in a Common Area (parking lot or private street in most cases). If the answer to that question is yes, then as long as the Declaration provides the HOA authority to control and maintain those common areas, then the Board of Directors can establish reasonable rules for the use of those common areas, which could include towing improperly … Continue reading

Details on the 2020 National Community Association Law Seminar

As past President of the College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL), I provide details each year on CAI’s national Community Association Law Seminar. Without question, the Law Seminar is the premiere HOA and condo legal program held each year. This year’s Law Seminar is the 41st annual and will be held January 15-18, 2020, in Las Vegas, NV. While the Law Seminar is mostly attended by attorneys, it’s not limited to attorneys. Other participants include insurance professionals, community association managers, and other industry leaders who wish to learn about HOA/condo law trends and practices. For insurance professionals who advise homeowner … Continue reading

What is a Trust?

Often clients tell me that they want a trust and immediately thereafter admit they really are not sure what a trust is or if they need one. They wonder if it is like a corporation or a contract or a Will? There are all different types of trusts but when the question comes up like this, typically people are asking about “revocable trusts” also known as “living trusts.” A revocable trust is a little like a Will and also like a contract or an agreement. However, you still need a separate Will when you establish this type of trust. They … Continue reading

What’s Special about Special Assessments?

The term for owner payments to a homeowner or condominium association in North Carolina is “assessments.“ That’s because the term “dues” doesn’t appear in any statute. Instead, “assessment“ is used to describe the payment that owners of an HOA lot or a condominium unit make to the association to pay for common costs of the community, such as real property taxes, insurance premiums, or other expenses to maintain, improve, or benefit the common property. General assessments are the topic of other blogs—this article is specific to special assessments. However, the phrase “special assessment“ also doesn’t appear in any statute. As … Continue reading

Assistance Animal Chart

The differences between service animals, therapy animals, and emotional assistance animals in HOAs and condominiums can get confusing, even to those of us that deal with them all the time. The Community Associations Institute (CAI) has created this attractive and helpful chart to distinguish between such animals! To download the chart, visit CAI’s Guide to Assistance Animals

Dealing with Owners Who Bully or Harass

Recently on a national HOA/condo list serve, a community association professional lamented that civility has fallen in HOAs and condos and asked about how to deal with homeowners who regularly bully or harass. Based on numerous instances, our firm’s attorneys would agree that there has been an increase in the number of “in your face” owners, whether that behavior is directed at other owners, directors, or the community manager. While there was a discussion online of “changing the community’s rules,” such language would not generally fly in North Carolina or South Carolina due to case law and statutes (but might … Continue reading

The Basics of Title Insurance

Purchasing a home is one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences in one’s life. It can also be a very confusing process for first-time homebuyers or for people that do not deal in real estate transactions often. One of the more confusing aspects of a real estate purchase is the importance of title insurance. Prior to sitting at the closing table, very few buyers have ever heard of, let alone understand, the concept of title insurance. Title insurance can protect the buyer and the lender, if a home loan is required for purchase, from undue loss caused by a … Continue reading

Removal of an Officer vs. Removal of a Board Member of a Community Association

Removal issues are almost always sensitive and highly charged emotional issues. It is important that the board of directors follows the required process correctly and seeks legal guidance when necessary. If your board directors has questions regarding removal of an officer or removal of a board member, please contact one of our community association attorneys here at Black Slaughter and Black, P.A. There is often confusion regarding the difference between removal of an officer and removal of a board member in a North Carolina or South Carolina Community Association. In most cases the sitting board of directors has the authority … Continue reading