Are Pickup Trucks “Commercial Vehicles” and Can HOAs Ban Them? Florida Pickup Man Says “No.”

In North Carolina, many Associations have covenants that prohibit “commercial vehicles” or “trucks.” In North Carolina, the top two best-selling vehicles and three of the top five vehicles in the state are pickup trucks. With the volume of pickups on North Carolina roads, and the number of truck-related covenants in place, the intersection is a common one to encounter, and the HOA is the traffic cop that is stationed at that intersection. Recently in Florida, this intersection was the subject of a dispute between an HOA and a homeowner. The homeowner purchased a 2022 Rivian R1T, which recently was named MotorTrend’s Truck of … Continue reading

What Can Members Vote on at an HOA or Condo Membership Meeting?

A question came up during a recent online discussion about “what members can do at an HOA or condo membership meeting?” Specifically, the questioner wondered if a member could seek recognition and unexpectedly make a motion to “make the association do most anything.” It’s a good question, and one we community association lawyers spend time analyzing. Hate to say, “It depends,” but facts matters. This is not a question that can be answered in a vacuum without specifics. State statutes and governing documents (usually the bylaws or articles of incorporation) vary as to what authority the membership has versus the … Continue reading

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

Best Practices for Board Meeting Minutes

A question came up during a recent online discussion about “best practices” for board meeting minutes. The answer to questions of what should (or should not) be included in minutes is more complicated than it seems. This article will give a broad answer, but I have to mention there are chapters in both my recent books, Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track and Notes and Comments on Robert’s Rules, Fifth Edition, on what to include (or not) in minutes, approving minutes, changing minutes after the fact, handling closed/executive session meeting minutes, as well as model minutes templates and skeletal minutes (writing minutes before … Continue reading

Can, or Should, My Community Association Prohibit “Group Homes”?

With the passage of federal and State laws protecting disabled individuals, we see a societal push away from institutionalized living arrangements and towards community based, group home settings. This firm is frequently asked how, or if, an association can prohibit these group living arrangements within their community. Sometimes residents are worried that the group home occupants will pose a safety risk; there are also concerns about parking and transient residents; and fundamentally, associations may question whether this type of group living arrangement is consistent with single family residential use. The purpose of this blog is to provide a broad overview … 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

HOA/Condo Rental Restrictions, Corporate Owners & Institutional Investors

Requests for amendments to declarations tend to go in waves. Twenty years ago many associations were concerned about certain categories of sex offenders living in their communities. For several years now, the declaration amendment our firm most often gets asked about has to do with rental restrictions. Such questions arise out of concern that too many rentals or certain types of rentals will impact the “character” of neighborhoods. As a result, associations regularly approach our firm for advice on rental bans, rental caps, or restrictions on short-term/transient rentals like Airbnb or VRBO. (See Top Declaration Amendments for an HOA or … Continue reading

Conflicts of Interests: What Community Association Directors Should Know

Are you a director on your community association executive board?  If so, you may be wondering about conflicts of interest.  When do you as a board member have a conflict of interest? First, what is a conflict of interest?  The North Carolina Non-profit Act defines a conflict of interest transaction as “a transaction with the corporation in which a director of the corporation has a direct or indirect interest.”  A direct or indirect interest means that you have some personal interest in the transaction beyond your interest as a member of the Association.  Basically, the question is will you (or … Continue reading

New Announcement by HUD Means More Options for Flood Insurance

All community association boards want to be good stewards of the funds collected from their homeowners.  Sometimes, when finances are tight, a board has to face hard choices about how to reduce costs.  That might mean reducing services or even deferring needed maintenance for a period of time where that maintenance is not essential to safety or structural integrity.  As with all contracts, boards want to find the insurance that best suits their community and offers the best protection—at the best price.  For those townhome and condo communities located in a flood zone, the question often arises whether they must … Continue reading

Yes, Owners of a Restricted Lot Can Be Fined for THEIR TENANT’S Violations of Covenants!

With the appreciating residential real estate market, rental homes are becoming an increasingly common feature in residential neighborhoods subject to restrictive covenants.  Restrictive covenants will typically have a few main types of provisions that lot owners opt into when purchasing their restricted lots—architectural standards, obligations to pay assessments to a homeowners’ association, provisions outlining the common area/amenities- but also some regulations that relate to conduct of individuals who reside on a lot.  Sometimes the practice of leasing will even be prohibited or limited in the restrictive covenants of a community, or even provide that the HOA can screen prospective tenants. … Continue reading

Hurricane Ian Victim’s Tax Relief Deadline Extended for NC and SC Residents

The Internal Revenue Service has recently announced additional relief for Hurricane Ian victims across North Carolina and South Carolina. The tax relief postpones several tax filing and payment deadlines in North and South Carolina, as outlined below: Individuals and businesses located anywhere in the Carolinas will now have until February 15, 2023 to file returns, provided they had a valid extension to file their 2021 return. Individuals and businesses will have until February 15, 2022 to pay taxes that were originally due on September 25, 2022 in South Carolina and September 28, 2022 in North Carolina (the full list of … Continue reading

What Are An Association’s Responsibilities For Ensuring An Owner’s Safety?

There is often a breakdown between what homeowners within a community and the board of an association believe are the responsibilities of the association. Our association clients experience this with a myriad of issues, and one area of particular importance is that of homeowner safety. For associations hoping to understand what their responsibilities are in ensuring a homeowner’s safety and wellbeing, a great place to start is the governing documents. The governing documents will explain an association’s responsibilities in regard to the safety of homeowners, and their additional responsibilities in general. An association should take reasonable action to protect those … Continue reading

Obligation to Pay HOA Dues Survives Even the Strangest Circumstances

As community association attorneys, we hear all sorts of reasons from homeowners to explain why they haven’t paid their assessments.  These usually include legitimate explanations such as illnesses like COVID, job loss, or other hardships.  Some homeowners are more creative.  One owner recently told our office that the presence of “entities” in the home was a reason for non-payment.  In a recent case out of Kentucky, William and Theresa Thompson told their homeowners association they shouldn’t have to pay assessments on two lots they owned because the lots weren’t there anymore.  Although existing as two separate lots, they were treated … Continue reading

Community Associations May Have a Duty to Address Neighbor-to-Neighbor Discrimination

Community associations have historically been able to stay largely uninvolved in neighbor-to-neighbor disputes unless the conduct complained of violated the governing documents of the association. If no governing documents were being violated, the neighbors would be expected to work out the issues among themselves. Now, there is an important step for association boards and managers to consider when learning of neighbor-to-neighbor disputes. The Fair Housing laws may create a duty for community associations to investigate complaints of discrimination between neighbors and to possibly take some action. Note – This duty might exist even if the board of directors and association manager … Continue reading

New NC Supreme Court Case: Applicability of Condominium Act Foreclosure Rights to Pre-1986 Condominiums

A decision last week (November 4) by the NC Supreme Court provides helpful authority to older condominiums not only in the context of foreclosures, but in the larger context of relying on the retroactive portions of the NC Condominium Act (Chapter 47C). In the Matter of the Foreclosure of a Lien by Executive Office Park of Durham Association, Inc Against Martin E. Rock A/K/A Martin A Rock considered the issue of whether a pre-October 1, 1986 condominium, formed pursuant to the NC Unit Ownership Act (Chapter 47A), has the power of sale for foreclosure as set forth in the Condominium … Continue reading

Wilson Elected Chair of CAI’s South Carolina Legislative Action Committee

Law Firm Carolinas Partner David Wilson has been elected Chair of the South Carolina Legislative Action Committee (SC LAC). The SC LAC is a committee of the Community Associations Institute that monitors and influences legislation that impacts community associations, and its members talk with legislators on issues of concern to HOAs and condos. For more information on the activities of the SC LAC, visit the South Carolina Legislative Action Committee page.

Book Review: Run, Don’t Walk, to Buy Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track

Ann Macfarlane, a Professional Registered Parliamentarian in Seattle who works with many local governments and is author of Mastering Council Meetings: A Guidebook for Elected Officials and Local Governments, published the following review of Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track on her website: Reader, I am over the moon about Jim Slaughter’s new book, Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track. This brief, affordable and funny guidebook will give you the tools to apply Robert’s Rules immediately and effectively. Jim’s humor and focus kept me reading with enjoyment, underlining key phrases, and dotting the text with exclamation points. Jim starts the first chapter, … Continue reading

Taliercio Re-Elected President of American College of Parliamentary Lawyers

Law Firm Carolinas partner Michael Taliercio has been re-elected President of the American College of Parliamentary Lawyers. The ACPL acknowledges attorneys who have distinguished themselves through contributions to the practice of parliamentary law, including lawyers that work with nonprofit associations, unions, HOA and condo associations, houses of worship, and governmental bodies. Taliercio is both an attorney and a Professional Registered Parliamentarian with the National Association of Parliamentarians.

South Carolina Supreme Court Finds Mandatory Arbitration Provision Unconscionable

In a recent South Carolina Supreme Court decision, the Court struck a mandatory arbitration clause from purchaser contracts with a home builder because the terms were considered to be unconscionable.  In Damico v. Lennar Carolinas, a group of home buyers in the Spring Grove Plantation community sued Lennar Carolinas for construction defect claims.  As one of its primary defenses, Lennar Carolinas pointed to the arbitration clause included in the contracts that each homeowner had signed.  These clauses required cases to be arbitrated and waived other protections normally available to a home buyer, such as trial by jury.  The Court determined … 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