The Current State Of Solar Laws For Homeowners Associations In North Carolina – 2019 UPDATE

For years North Carolina has followed the national trend of promoting and encouraging green technology and cleaner and more efficient ways of producing energy.  For homeowners associations, the trend has been for state legislatures to create laws allowing installation of solar collectors, regardless of what the HOA may say.  Some states have required HOAs to allow installation under all circumstances, while other states have limited an HOA’s ability to deny an application to install a solar collector to certain specific instances.  For an overview of the current solar laws in North Carolina and how they impact your homeowners association, take … Continue reading

Recent South Carolina Solar Law and What it Means for Your HOA

A South Carolina solar bill that was signed into law by Governor Henry McMaster in May this year might have impacts on your homeowners association by increasing the number of property owners looking to install some sort of solar technology on their property.  Since most HOAs have architectural approval procedures for changes to properties, that means that more and more solar applications are going to be submitted for approval. Solar panels, solar shingles, and other solar collectors are increasingly popular options in homeowners associations.  It is no secret that our country, our states, and our local governments are all looking … Continue reading

Recent HOA Case a Good Reminder in North Carolina & South Carolina

At Black, Slaughter & Black we keep track of legal trends and recent case law that impacts our HOA and condo clients.  Although it is a case out of Virginia, the decision in Sainani v. Belmont Glen Homeowners Association, Inc. highlights three important themes that HOAs in North Carolina and South Carolina should be aware of:  (1) there is a difference between rules and regulations and restrictive covenants, (2) the specific wording in covenants matters, and (3) HOA and condo boards must create restrictions that are clear and unambiguous. First, there is a distinct difference between rules and regulations that … Continue reading

Special Assessments for Your Condo or HOA

I am often asked to help homeowners associations and condominiums figure out ways to make ends meet.  For those communities with cash flow problems it can be challenging.  Raising dues is never a popular option, but is often necessary.  The governing documents for most condominiums and homeowners associations allow the board of directors to unilaterally increase dues by some amount—usually between 10% and 15%—without a vote of the membership.  That makes sense because an association should be able to make regular increases to dues to keep up with the costs of the association, both the expected costs and the unforeseen … Continue reading

Top Amendments for an HOA or Condo in North Carolina & South Carolina – Part Three

Authored by David Wilson & Harmony Taylor We are often asked by board members for HOA and condominium associations to review their community’s documents and “update” them or “make them more modern.”  While there is no one-size fits all solution for any community association, we have noticed that some amendments are a good idea for most communities.  Over the next few articles, David Wilson and Harmony Taylor will be exploring some of the amendments that we frequently recommend to the associations that we represent.  Whether you are a single family, townhome, or condominium community, you may want to think about … Continue reading

Top Amendments for an HOA or Condo in North Carolina & South Carolina – Part Two

(Blog co-authored by David Wilson & Harmony Taylor. This is a continuation of the earlier blog, “Top Amendments for an HOA or Condo in North Carolina or South Carolina.”) We are often asked by board members for HOA and condominium associations to review their community’s documents and “update” them or “make them more modern.”  While there is no one-size fits all solution for any community association, we have noticed that some amendments are a good idea for most communities.  Over the next few articles, David Wilson and Harmony Taylor will be exploring some of the amendments that we frequently recommend … Continue reading

Top Amendments for an HOA or Condo in North Carolina & South Carolina

(Blog co-authored by David Wilson & Harmony Taylor) We are often asked by board members for HOA and condominium associations to review their community’s documents and “update” them or “make them more modern.”  While there is no one-size fits all solution for any community association, we have noticed that some amendments are a good idea for most communities.  Over the next few articles, David Wilson and Harmony Taylor of Black, Slaughter & Black, P.A. will be exploring some of the amendments that we frequently recommend to the associations that we represent. Whether you are a single family, townhome or condominium … 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

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

What to Do About Subdivision Roads—The Orphan Road Conundrum

For many homeowners associations roads can be a source of constant consternation. Most homeowners do not make their home-buying decision based on the condition of the roads in the community or on the responsibility of the community to maintain subdivision roads. Where the community is responsible for the roads, it can be one of the largest budget expenses, often taking years of planning and saving to tackle. Even then, it may require special assessments or other methods to raise the funds to handle. When developers or HOA boards are not diligent in getting responsibility for roads turned over to the … Continue reading

“My Uncle Does That” . . . When is it OK for Condominiums and Homeowners Associations Not to Use a Pro?

I am often asked by HOA & condo Boards a question that looks something like these: Is it OK for the Association to use community volunteers instead of a professional? or My Uncle Sal does that, can’t we use him? / I’m sure he’ll give us a discount! Naturally, in typical lawyer fashion, I tell them that it depends.  There are scenarios where the Board will always want a professional service provider and others where it is perfectly acceptable for volunteers from the community to provide services. The bottom line for the Board is always whether it has met its … Continue reading

Can My South Carolina HOA or Condominium Charge a Transfer Fee?

I often receive questions from managers and board members about fees that homeowners associations and condos can and can’t charge to homeowners and to prospective purchasers in their communities.  One of the most common questions goes something like this: “Our covenants say that we can charge a capital contribution fee / transfer fee / some other similar fee at each closing.  Can we charge this fee?” The answer will depend on several factors, including the age of the fee covenant, which party is entitled to receive the fee, and whether the original developer is still selling property in a community. … Continue reading

HOAs/Condominiums Want to Know: What is a Transfer Fee in North Carolina?

A common question that we get from developers, managers, and HOA Boards is “what exactly is a transfer fee?” Although the term “transfer fee” is often used loosely to mean several different things, state statute defines the term generally to mean “a fee or charge payable upon the transfer of an interest in real property.” In other words, it is a fee charged when property is transferred from one party to another.  North Carolina law now prohibits transfer fee covenants.  Specifically prohibited are covenants that require the payment of a transfer fee to a developer or other person upon a … Continue reading

Lesson Learned: What North Carolina Management Companies Should be Thinking About

In a recent post on a South Carolina Supreme Court case from just a few weeks ago I provided a quick breakdown of things that management companies in South Carolina must not do. As always, lessons learned from different jurisdictions can be instructive to neighboring jurisdictions.  North Carolina and South Carolina share many things, including a border.  They also share a similar approach to making sure that the practice of law in each state is limited to only licensed attorneys. Here are some specific things that the Supreme Court in South Carolina mentioned that constitute the unauthorized practice of law … Continue reading

Things Community Management Companies Should Not Do in South Carolina

We often are asked by managers and Board members what duties are appropriate to delegate to a property manager. First, a property manager is almost always going to be considered an agent of the homeowners association. As an agent, what authority does the property manager have?  In general, an association manager has whatever power is granted by the Board of Directors for the HOA.  It is common for management companies to manage the day-to-day running of the association, leaving the decision-making for the Board.  Some common duties include collection of assessments, helping to enforce restrictions, helping with the annual budget, … Continue reading

Short-Term Rentals in North Carolina and South Carolina HOAs and Condominiums

We live in an increasingly sharing world and culture. For a small fee we share rides to get to work, can leave our pets at someone’s house while on vacation, or we can rent our neighbor’s car, high-end household items like cameras or kitchenware, and even musical instruments (although I’m not sure I would want to share some of those).  With the explosion in our sharing economy, it should come as no surprise that owners in homeowners associations and condominiums have found ways to take advantage of technology to market their homes to those in need of lodging on a … Continue reading

Ham it Up – HAM Radio in Your Community Association

A recent topic that we have been following is the congressional bill to permit HAM radio towers in community associations. We learned today that H.R. 1301 regarding HAM radio operation in planned communities failed to pass the Senate. The Community Associations Institute (CAI) opposed the original version of H.R. 1301, which would have required homeowners associations to allow installation of HAM radio antennas regardless of any prior restrictions or architectural requirements. With CAI’s support, H.R. 1301 was amended to require that antennas be approved prior to installation. The new Congress will be sworn in on January 3, 2017 and it … Continue reading

Political Signs in Your Homeowners Association and Condominium in South Carolina

With election time upon us, we always get questions regarding political signs in homeowners associations and condominiums. My colleague, Jim Slaughter, authored a blog on “Q&A on Political Signs in HOAs and Condominium Associations” a few weeks ago that addresses some of the most common questions we get.  As a quick follow-up to his blog, here are a few items from South Carolina to keep in mind: First, it is always important to remember that unlike North Carolina, South Carolina does not have any HOA-specific statute that affects the display of political signs. So, if your association has specific rules in … Continue reading

Electronic Voting and Electronic Notices for Homeowners Associations and Condominiums

Modern society is moving toward better, faster, and easier methods of communication and transacting business. There was a time when sending a letter was the standard form of communication.  Indeed, “regular mail” and hard-copy printed versions of documents are still the standard in most legal systems in the United States.  However, the trend over the past several years has been to move to faster, more efficient methods of communicating and operating. Unfortunately, legal systems are often the last to join the party. The laws involving homeowners associations and condominiums are no different.  In fact, many associations find themselves stuck with … Continue reading

Flag Displays in South Carolina Homeowners Associations and Condominiums

At this time of year we often get questions from homeowners, managers, condominium and homeowners association boards about what flags may be displayed and under what circumstances. In South Carolina, both federal law and state law come into play. South Carolina law provides that homeowners associations and condominiums in South Carolina must permit the display of one portable, removable United States flag in a respectful manner, consistent with federal law, on the premises of the property of which he is entitled to use. Federal Law provides that homeowners associations and condominiums “may not adopt or enforce any policy, or enter … Continue reading