New Law Offers Important Protection to NC Pool Operators

House Bill 902 was signed into law by Governor Cooper on July 2, 2020 and grants some limitations on liability for privately owned swimming pool operators who open their pools during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Bill applies to community pools owned by private entities, such as apartment complexes, homeowners associations and condominium associations, and protects those pool operators from liability for injury or death allegedly related to COVID-19 if those pool operators have opened the pools in compliance with the various Executive Orders for pool safety issued by the Governor.  Probably the most important Executive Order here is Executive Order … Continue reading

Can Your Association Require A Survey as Part of the Architectural Process?

For some property owners, the Coronavirus pandemic has been an opportunity to spend some meaningful time at home working on long neglected projects. This could mean finishing up a landscaping plan, cleaning out a natural area, or finally getting around to building a fence. As owners go about these tasks, it is inevitable that some will ignore or not be aware of the architectural approval process. This may be a good time for boards to- in a friendly way- check in with their neighbors and  provide a refresher course on the necessary steps to get an architectural change submitted and … Continue reading

Are HOAs and Condos in North Carolina and South Carolina Eligible for Coronavirus Federal Disaster Funds?

Individuals, businesses, and organizations across the United States are struggling to come to grips with the new financial realities created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonprofit community associations are no exception.  They will likely face reductions in revenues in the coming months, at least, as a result of members who simply are not able to pay their ongoing obligations for assessments.  Loans newly made available by the federal government may be an option for community associations to consider. In this blog we will look at federal disaster loans offered through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). (For a more general explanation … Continue reading

How to Hold Your North Carolina HOA/Condo Hearing in a Pandemic

Yet another issue that is coming up frequently in the face of COVID-19:  what should an association do about violation hearings that need to proceed, and are already scheduled or need to be scheduled?  Obviously, we are recommending against any face-to-face meetings for the foreseeable future.  Mecklenburg County’s stay at home order requires residents today to stay home and avoid all unnecessary trips may soon spread to the rest of North Carolina. This means we have to get creative about how to hold hearings.  The goal, as always, will be to allow owners to clearly understand the alleged violation and … Continue reading

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

Community Associations and Registered Agents

All North Carolina nonprofit corporations are required to maintain a registered office and registered agent pursuant to § N.C.G.S. 55A-5-01. However, many board members, and some association managers, may not fully understand the purpose and duties of the registered agent. The registered agent’s sole duty is to keep the nonprofit corporation apprised of any notices, processes or demands served on the agent on behalf of the entity. For example, property taxes may be owed on property owned by the association and the local tax department may need to submit bills to the association. Local government does not keep up with … Continue reading

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

Authored by Harmony Taylor & David Wilson 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

Fair Housing & Religious Accommodation: Curto v. A Country Place Condominium Association, Inc.

Sometimes, a community association tries to accommodate religious preferences and ends up discriminating on another basis. That is what happened in Curto v A Country Place Condominium Association, Inc., according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in a New Jersey condominium case handed down yesterday. In this case, the condominium had a large Orthodox Jewish population whose religious practices prohibited men and women from swimming together in the condominium pool. The association, wishing to find a way for both men and women to use the pool, came up with a schedule that provided certain hours for … Continue reading

Assigning Service Contracts in North Carolina

Most people assume that when they hire someone to perform a service for them, that person will deliver the service. This is not always true. In many circumstances, one party can assign its service obligations to another party. By statute, North Carolina allows one party to delegate- or assign- its obligations to perform some service under a contract to another party unless the contract prohibits assignment, or unless the non-assigning party has some substantial interest in having the originally obligated party perform the work themselves.  The idea is that assignment allows individuals and companies necessary flexibility to sell valuable contractual … Continue reading

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

(Blog co-authored by Harmony Taylor & David Wilson. 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

Community Association Foreclosures and Squatters

Despite what some may believe, association boards almost never want to foreclose on a condo, townhome or single family home in their community. When they do go through the time and expense of foreclosing, and are forced to purchase the property through foreclosure, it is incredibly frustrating to go to change the locks on a home only to find it already occupied by a stranger. It can appear that someone- not the former owner- showed up in the dead of night, gained access through some means, and moved in- even going so far as to fully furnish the home, hook … Continue reading

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

(Blog co-authored by Harmony Taylor & David Wilson) 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

Cease and Desist

If you have been involved as a manager or board member of a community association for any significant period of time-, you have likely come across a difficult owner or tenant who insists on using ineffective communication strategies. Maybe they send you daily or hourly emails demanding information, or post these demands to social media. Perhaps they telephone excessively, wanting to discuss board positions outside of meetings. In some circumstances, they may even contact association vendors directly, and demand action or information to which they have no right. In a perfect world you would respond to legitimate requests for information … 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

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

“Protecting Associations from Liability for Sexual Harassment”

You can’t turn on the news these days, pick up a paper or listen to the radio without hearing about someone else in the entertainment industry being accused of improper sexual behavior towards employees, coworkers or others. Community Associations are microcosms of our culture, and so it should come as no surprise to find that allegations of harassment can and do come up. Recently I received a phone call from a manager dealing with the following scenario: Board President has served for many years, with wide support from the membership. He keeps the budget in check, makes sure the pool … Continue reading

Buyer Beware: Foreclosures of Properties with Existing Tenants

The housing market is hot in much of North Carolina, and many local and out of State investors are on the lookout for foreclosure deals that they can turn into quick rental income. In this situation some investors may be inclined to forego traditional due diligence, but they do so at their peril. No investor wants to purchase a property, only to learn after the fact that there is an in-place tenant (often less than desirable) who has no intention of leaving the property or paying reasonable rent. In this situation, the tenant may have more rights than the property … Continue reading