Does New Law Mean Associations Don’t Have to Hold Annual Meetings?

Since HB 320 passed (see Bill Adopted to Allow Electronic Membership Meetings and Voting in North Carolina Associations), we’ve had questions to the effect of “Do we have to hold annual member meetings anymore?” The thinking seems to be that because the new law allows decisions by “written ballots or electronic voting” that you could use those methods and forego the annual meeting. That is, a written or electronic ballot could be sent out for everything that needs to be handled at the annual meeting and then have no meeting at all.   Anyone who suggests that the new law … Continue reading

NC Governor Signs Bill Allowing Remote Member Meetings

As a follow-up to last week’s Community Association Legislative Update (Bill Adopted to Allow Electronic Membership Meetings and Voting in North Carolina Associations), Governor Roy Cooper signed HB 320 (“Modernize Remote Business Access”) yesterday, September 20. The law takes effect effect immediately. NC homeowner and condominium associations (as well as other nonprofit associations) can now choose to hold virtual member meetings or make decisions without a meeting through written or electronic balloting or electronic voting, so long as certain requirements are met. The new law applies to any member meetings noticed as of today. In addition, remote member meetings noticed and held … Continue reading

Bill Adopted to Allow Electronic Membership Meetings and Voting in North Carolina Associations

NC Community Association Legislative Update – September 15, 2021 Community association (HOA and condo) boards have long been permitted to meet virtually by phone or videoconference, but the ability to hold membership meetings electronically ended with the expiration of the Governor’s Executive Order this spring. Since that time, while members can certainly meet virtually as an informal “town hall” and then vote afterwards by written ballot, it has not been possible to hold virtual membership meetings. And even under the Governor’s prior Executive Order, members could not vote during virtual meetings. That’s all changing with the adoption today of legislation … Continue reading

Changes to Special Assessment Language in North Carolina Realtor Standard “Offer to Purchase and Contract”

As discussed in previous blogs (see What’s Special about Special Assessments?), HOA/condo special assessments are referenced in the North Carolina standard Offer to Purchase and Contract form. By way of background, the NC Bar Association and NC Association of Realtors® have “Joint Forms” used in residential real estate closings. The standard “Offer to Purchase and Contract” (Standard Form 2-T) is used in most any closing involving a Realtor®. Effective July 1, 2021, there are various changes to the Standard Offer to Purchase and Contract, including the following language regarding special assessments: In Paragraph 1(n), the distinctions between a “proposed” and … Continue reading

Avoiding Legal Landmines: Advice for HOA/Condo Board Members & Managers

Earlier this week, I presented at the CAI-NC 2021 Annual Conference on how associations, board members and managers can “Avoid Legal Land Mines.” I won’t repeat the presentation here, as the entire program can be found at the CAI-NC website. However, here are tips to help keep your association out of court. Our firm does a huge HOA/condo practice in five different offices. As a result, we regularly see every kind of dispute between owners and associations. Not all will end up in court. After all, a violation over a garbage can being left out is likely not worth litigating. … Continue reading

Valuable New Resource on Drafting Community Association Governing Documents

The Community Associations Institute has many valuable resources for anyone who assists community associations. While these materials are often of most interest to professional community managers and HOA/condo owners, there are also many excellent publications for attorneys. A recent digital book, Guiding Principles for Community Association Governing Documents: A Resource for Lawyers, will be of interest to anyone who has to draft original association documents or amendments to those documents. This is no little brochure, but has excellent, detailed advice for getting the wording of documents right. The Task Force that compiled the recommendations was appointed by the College of … Continue reading

Should HOA or Condo Bylaws Be Recorded?

We were recently asked whether bylaws amendments should be filed with the local Register of Deeds. The answer, like many things community association related, depends. Condo bylaws in North Carolina are almost always filed with the Register of Deeds, but not HOA bylaws. The difference is due to initial bylaws for condos being recorded with the declaration, and then amendments need to show up in the public record. If HOA bylaws are filed (but should not be), amendments also need to be unless a later amendment makes clear (as we have sometimes done for associations) that subsequent amendments will not … Continue reading

What Is a Majority Vote?

Like many things association related, the answer can vary by state and by association. That’s because some state statutes or governing documents define majority differently (“a majority of the entire membership” or “a majority of members present”). But if you’re just talking about “majority,” then under Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (12th Edition) that is “more than half” (NOT “half plus one” or some other language that can give you the wrong number). When used without qualification, a majority vote means “more than half of the votes cast by persons entitled to vote, excluding blanks or abstentions, at a regular or … Continue reading

NC Community Association Legislative Update – May 14, 2021

Like everything else during this past year of COVID, the legislative process has also been different. Usually by now in the first year of a new session of the General Assembly, a number of bills that could affect North Carolina HOAs and condominiums would have been introduced. Some would move forward, and some not. In contrast, this have been a fairly quiet year for community association proposals. Almost certainly that’s because of the focus and attention on economic and health issues. That said, there are a few proposed bills that, if adopted, would impact community associations. Yesterday, May 13, 2021 … Continue reading

(Likely Final) NC Extension of Order Allowing Virtual Membership Meetings

The NC Executive Order allowing electronic membership meetings (Executive Order #198) was set to expire today, Monday, May 10. That Order has now been extended by Executive Order #212 through Tuesday, June 1, 2021. As a result, nonprofit membership meetings may continue to be held virtually so long as certain conditions are met. Such a process is likely needed by some larger associations a bit longer, as a different Executive Order (EO #209) still caps the maximum number of people for indoor gatherings at 100 and for outdoor gatherings at 200 “at the same time in a single confined indoor or outdoor … Continue reading

Even Further Easing of NC COVID Restrictions

The title of Executive Order #209 issued today (April 28, 2021) pretty much sums up the trend in North Carolina: “Removing the Outdoor Face Covering Requirement, Relaxing Restrictions on Gatherings, and Extending the Capacity and Social Distancing Measures of Executive Order #204.” (For more details on prior Executive Order #204, see NC Easing Covid Restrictions.) The new Executive Order contains additional easing of COVID restrictions to begin this Friday, April 30 at 5 pm. It’s difficult to summarize lengthy Executive Orders, and this particular Order is 31 pages with 10 appendixes for different venues/businesses. Here are some HIGHLIGHTS that may … Continue reading

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

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

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

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

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

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