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

Authored by 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 they thought resolved … 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Committee and Approval Process”) Duff v. The Sanctuary at Lake Wylie Property Owners Association, Inc. is an “unpublished opinion,” which means the decision is not controlling legal authority and should not be cited in other cases. However, even unpublished opinions give a sense of the Court’s thinking as to specific issues and how … Continue reading

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’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

Should an Announcement of Election Results Include Votes by Candidate?

This question was recently asked on a national HOA/condo list serve: “In a board of directors election, should the vote totals by candidate be released to the membership?” Without question, the answer of how election results are announced could vary by state, depending on state statutes. If a statute provides a specific process for elections, that process should be followed. Similarly, if the organization has clear provisions in its governing documents, such as the bylaws, follow that process. However, for associations that follow Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, either due to state law or the governing documents, there is … Continue reading

Maintenance, Repair and Replacement in HOAs & Condos (Including Hurricane and Casualty)

Prior to Hurricane Dorian our firm again sent out emergency contact information (emails and cell phone numbers) for all our community association attorneys. The thought behind doing this before significant storms is that in the event of HOA or condo damage, immediate advice may be needed on who is responsible for making and/or paying for necessary repairs. (And, yes, we have gotten calls in the middle of the night about water pouring into a unit or a tree through the roof.) Even in quiet times, issues related to maintenance, repair and replacement are some of the more difficult ones we … Continue reading

FHA Issues New Condominium Approval Rules

Yesterday, August 14, 2019, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) issued significant policy revisions to its condominium approval process. In addition to changes to the condominium project approval policy, the new policy provides a “single-unit approval process” for individual condominium units to be eligible for FHA mortgage insurance, even if the condominium project is not FHA approved. In addition, the new guidelines extend the recertification for approved projects from 2 to 3 years and will allow more mixed-use projects to be eligible for FHA insurance. Here are a few more specifics as to changes to FHA’s Single Family Handbook: Single-Unit Approval … Continue reading

2018 Community Association Fact Book Released

The Foundation for Community Association Research has just released its Community Association Fact Book 2018, which is full of HOA/condo data and statistics. The purpose of the work is to provide “research-based information to all community association stakeholders–homeowners, board members, management professionals as well as attorneys, accountants, developers, mortgage lenders, federal agencies, public officials and others–all who work with the Foundation and CAI to build better communities.” If you haven’t reviewed the Fact Book before, the information is fascinating. Both national and state-by-state information can be found. For instance, in 1970, there were 10,000 community associations in the U.S. Today … Continue reading

Association Loans: What You Need to Know

Previous posts have looked at options for community associations in need of money (see Help, Our HOA (or Condo) Needs Money!). If your association has explored and rejected other possibilities (increased assessments, reserves, special assessment, etc.), a loan may be the best prospect. Questions about whether the loan is a good idea or whether the association will be able to pay back the funds are something that only the association can answer. Instead, this blog examines the legal process of what is involved when an association borrows money. Over 200 lenders currently make loans to HOAs and condos, according to … Continue reading

Law Firm Carolinas Attorneys Speaking at HOA/Condo Annual Conference AUGUST 2

The Annual Conference of the North Carolina Chapter of the Community Associations Institute will be held Thursday, August 1 and Friday, August 2 at the Wilmington Convention Center (515 Nutt Street). Attendees will include community association professionals and community leaders from across the state. During the Friday educational sessions, several Law Firm Carolinas attorneys will be speaking on issues of concern to community associations, including: Friday, August 2 at 8:30 am David Wilson (with Dawn Becker-Durnin, NFP, and Jessica Due, NFP) Contractual Risk Transfer for Communities: It’s Not Just About the Certificate of Insurance Communities need to outsource work such … Continue reading

NC Community Association Legislative Update – May 10, 2019

Yesterday, May 9, 2019 was the “crossover deadline” in the North Carolina General Assembly. In short, that means that bills not related to taxes or spending must have passed one chamber to be eligible for consideration during the two-year legislative session. CAVEAT: In terms of legislation, “dead” doesn’t always mean “completely dead.” A News & Observer story once noted that legislative “rules are made to be circumvented, so there are many ways to keep legislation alive.” (For example, proposals sometimes appear later as “technical corrections” in other bills.) Still, with the crossover deadline behind us, now is a good time … Continue reading

NC Community Association Legislative Update – April 23, 2019

It must be spring in North Carolina—both flowers and legislative proposals that would impact HOAs and condos are springing up! For those of you who attended the NC-CAI Community Association Legal Workshop in Wilmington this past week, you heard my law partner Steve Black comment on several pending community-association bills. When I spoke at the NC-CAI Community Association Law Evening in Greenville the NEXT NIGHT, 3 more proposals had been filed! Now there are at least 12 legislative proposal that would impact North Carolina’s HOAs and condos. The increased filing is due to several legislative deadlines this month. Tuesday, April … Continue reading

Don’t Screw Up Your Architectural Committee and Approval Process

In a decision issued today (March 19, 2019), the North Carolina Court of Appeals examined the issue of proper architectural committees and their decisions. Makar vs. Mimosa Bay Homeowners Association is an “unpublished” opinion from the NC Court of Appeals. That means that 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 subsequent courts may rule. In short, the decision in Makar follows other recent appellate decisions that associations should act properly, follow corporate formalities, and do … Continue reading

Committee of the Whole

“Committee of the Whole” is a type of committee described in Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (11th Edition)(see RONR Section 52). While not commonly used, some large assemblies and legislative bodies follow the process. Without question, the procedure is an odd one. The normal presiding officer leaves the chair and a chairman of the committee is appointed. Members can speak in debate on the main question or amendment as often as they can get the floor. Only certain motions are in order. The committee is intended to adopt a report to be made to the assembly and then votes … Continue reading

Community Association Law Day 2019 – Charlotte, NC

Law Day is one of the NC Community Associations Institute’s most popular programs. Attendees include HOA/condo board members, community leaders, and community managers. Speakers include many of the best community association professionals in the state. Law Firm Carolinas attorneys will be presenting on the following topics at the 2019 Community Association Law Day on Friday, March 22: Who’s Going to Fix My Property? HOA/Condo Maintenance, Repair & Casualty (Including Major Weather Events) – Jim Slaughter Assessment Collection Minefields – David Wilson & Adam Marshall How to Avoid Litigation in the First Place – Jim Slaughter (and Hope Carmichael) The cost … Continue reading