We are often asked what an association can or cannot spend their money on. In fact, this blog was inspired by a request from one of our regular readers. Associations are tasked with performing various community functions based on the requirements of their particular governing documents and state statute. You will often hear us say that assessments are the “lifeblood of an association.” That is because without them the association cannot do its job. There are some obvious uses for community funds, such as paying for the maintenance of the common area, improving association property, hiring professionals such as managers, attorneys, and … Continue reading
Author Archives: Adam Marshall
Board of Directors vs. Officers: How to Tell the Difference
What is the difference between the Board of Directors and corporate Officers? In the community association world there can be some confusion regarding these distinct corporate roles because they can often be the same individuals. However, if we take a step back we can see that they are actually very distinct roles. Here is some guidance as to North Carolina distinctions. Duties: Board members are tasked with guiding the direction of the corporation. They set the broader vision for the corporation. For example, the Board would be responsible for adopting corporate resolutions, rules and regulations, and other policies and procedures … Continue reading
Court of Appeals Confirm Vagueness and Ambiguity in Zoning Ordinance Will be Viewed in Favor of Free Use of Property
This week the North Carolina Court of Appeals issued a ruling in Frazier v. Town of Blowing Rock, 2022-NCCOA-782, that confirms the views of the Courts in this State that vague terms or ambiguity in language, in this case relating to a local zoning ordinance, will be viewed in favor of the free use of an owner’s property. In the community and association world (HOA and Condominiums) we have seen this line of decisions from the courts before as they deem vague restrictions or covenants in association governing documents as void and unenforceable for vagueness. This holds true for local … Continue reading
What Do You Mean We Need a Member List For Our Meeting? Exploring the Requirements of NCGS § 55A-7-20
The requirement to have a member list available for homeowner association and condominium member meetings has become increasingly apparent with the adoption of recent legislative changes to the nonprofit act related to the ability of community associations to hold membership meetings electronically or on some virtual/remote platform. The requirement to make the membership list available is nothing new however. The nonprofit act (N.C.G.S. §55A) states explicitly that “After fixing a record date for a notice of a meeting, a corporation shall prepare an alphabetical list of the names of all its members who are entitled to notice of the meeting. The … Continue reading
What are Accessory Dwelling Units, and How Do They Affect Planned Communities?
The housing market is continuously in flux. New housing products, designs, and concepts are constantly entering neighborhoods and forcing Americans to rethink what community living means and looks like. Accessory Dwelling Units (“ADU”) are nothing new. The concept has been around for some time. Think the mother-in-law suite built behind the principal structure or potentially an efficiency apartment built above a detached garage. In Greensboro, NC, for example, ADUs are permitted in all residential zoning districts so long as they meet certain additional planning standards: Accessory Dwelling Units Unless otherwise expressly stated, all accessory dwelling units must meet the requirements that apply to principal … Continue reading
Set Assessments at Appropriate Levels Because A Special Assessment May Not be Available to Save the Day!
Nobody likes to pay taxes, or in the community association world, high assessments. However, Boards need to make sure that they are setting assessments at an appropriate level to account for anticipated and potentially unanticipated needs and obligations of the community. Board members have a fiduciary duty to the Association which can include making sure that they are doing what they can to assure that the Association is properly funded. Boards should do their best not to fall into the trap that can often be set by developers who may have set assessments at a lower amount in an effort … Continue reading
It’s Pool Season! Are You Ready?
Pool season is often a homeowner’s favorite time of year, as the weather is warm and they are able to be outside socializing with family and friends. What better way to beat the heat than the community pool! While pool amenities can offer an outlet for relaxation and socialization for the members, it can often be a source of angst for the Board and manager. Here are a few short tips to make sure you are prepared for the season: Review and revise your pool rules. Community associations can almost always create reasonable rules and regulations to govern their common … Continue reading
What is the Board of Adjustment?
The Board of Adjustment is a group of members that are appointed by a local government, such as a City or Town, pursuant to NCGS 160D-302, to “hear and decide all matters upon which it is required to pass under any statute or development regulation adopted under this Chapter.” So what in the world does that mean? Typically a Board of Adjustment hears appeals, variance requests, or requests for special use permits as required under state statute and any local development ordinance. The Board is appropriately named as, when you think about it, they can adjust from the strict application … Continue reading
Proposed Short Term Rental Ordinance in Greensboro: The City Wants Your Input!
The City of Greensboro has met with various stakeholders in the community over the last several months to develop a City wide ordinance to address and create rules for short term rentals. There is no current definition for short term rentals in Greensboro, which means that they are currently regulated under the ordinance covering Tourist Homes (i.e. Bed and Breakfasts). Some of the highlights of the proposed ordinance would be: Short term rentals would be allowed only in residential dwellings. There would have to be a zoning permit for this type of rental. The number of persons allowed in the … Continue reading
A Revolt! Tips to Prevent Owner Insurrections!
The terms “coup” and “insurrection” are making their way into everyday conversation as of late. We hear about it on the news, but what happens when your community association experiences a similar situation? Meaning, what happens when your HOA or condominium board of directors is the target of an overthrow by the members of the association? It seems to be happening more frequently and is something our firm has encountered on several occasions in the last year or so. Maybe there is something in the water! Being a board member can be a thankless job, and it often seems like owners … Continue reading
Improve Your Chances Of Winning Your Rezoning Case-Preparation Is Key
I served on the Greensboro Zoning Commission for six years, serving as Chair during my last year, and I lost count of the times that a rezoning application and presentation could have been aided by additional preparation by the applicant or by having a knowledgeable advocate who could persuasively make the case that rezoning a piece of property would provide its highest and best use. Applications can fail if those making the decision on a rezoning are not presented with sufficient information to answer their questions about whether a piece of property should be rezoned, whether that be through the … Continue reading
Guilford County Mask Mandate-Effective August 13, 2021
As a result of the latest COVID-19 surge and the more contagious Delta variant, Guilford County has issued a mask mandate that becomes effective today, August 13, 2021, at 5:00 P.M. The mandate will remain in effect until the earlier of: 1) expiration or termination of the Proclamation of a Local Emergency, 2) January 8, 2022 at 5:00 P.M., or 3) modification or revocation by the Guilford County Board of Health. The mandate states: 1: Individuals must wear Face Coverings when indoors in all businesses, establishments, and public places. 2: All businesses, establishments, and public places must require that all … Continue reading
Safeguarding HOA/Condominium Association Money: Investment considerations and pitfalls
We are often asked by our association clients whether they should invest assessment or reserve funds into the stock market, bonds, money market accounts, CDs, etc. Let me start by stating that I am neither a financial planner nor an accountant, so my take on investment of association funds will center on the Board’s duties to the association and the underlying principal of why associations collect assessments in the first place. First, in North Carolina homeowner and condominium associations are non-profit corporations. They are set up for specific purposes as outlined in the governing documents, which may include maintenance of … 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
HOA & Condo Holiday and Seasonal Decorations: How to Regulate Without Being a Scrooge!
It is that time of year again. The time when families (especially this year) need a little festive spirit in their lives. As such, many homeowners begin to decorate their homes for the holidays. These decorations can range from a wreath on the door to a Griswold style light show with a ten foot tall inflatable Santa in the front yard. Yikes! Needless to say our firm gets many questions about regulation of holiday and seasonal decorations, especially during the fall and winter months. Can the Association Regulate Exterior Holiday and Seasonal Decorations? As with most homeowner and condominium association questions, the … Continue reading
Rezoning Your Property and Other Land Use Changes: Things to Consider
We often believe that as the owners of property that we can use our land however we desire. As we understand in the HOA and condominium world; that is not the case when there are restrictive covenants and declarations filed that regulate the use of an owner’s property. But what if you do not own property that is subject to these types of restrictions? Can you then use your land however you see fit? The answer to those questions is most likely, no. Local municipalities have land use ordinances and regulations in place that dictate a designated “use” that is … Continue reading
NC HOA/Condo Budget Ratification During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way we all do business. Homeowners associations and condominium associations are not immune to this new normal. Our firm has blogged extensively how to conduct association business during the COVID-19 crisis in order to promote social distancing and best stay compliant with the ever-changing status of the North Carolina Governor’s executive orders. One question that continues to come up is how to ratify the association’s budget when holding a meeting seems impossible. The budget ratification process is dependent on several factors including when your association was established. For example, the Condominium Act process for … Continue reading
Communicating With HOA/Condo Members In The Age of Coronavirus
Association Boards are not typically groups that like to overshare. They often can take a “need to know” approach to communicating with association membership. However in this brave new world we are facing with Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) sharing what actions the Board is taking, or not taking, with regard to the virus is going to be of vital importance to maintaining a well informed and healthy membership. Typically when associations discuss communication, they are referring to those notices required to be provided by governing documents or state statute, such as notices required for annual meetings, collection of assessments, imposing fines for … 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
Regulation of Display of American and North Carolina Flags in HOA & Condominium Associations
Happy Fourth of July! It is the time of year when our firm gets many questions regarding the display of United States and North Carolina flags in their community associations. Summer is a popular time of year for sun, sand, BBQ cookouts, and for display of patriotism! In our experience, we have found that most associations encourage the patriotic display of the United States and North Carolina flags, however reasonable restrictions on flag displays are common in community association governing documents. Both the North Carolina Planned Community and Condominium Acts limit the way in which associations restrict the display of … Continue reading