“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

Budget Ratification Meetings Basics – What You Need to Know

The Planned Community Act and the Condominium Act require most homeowners associations and condominium associations to hold budget ratifications meetings.  What are these meetings? A budget ratification meeting is a meeting of the owners of the association to review the proposed budget that has been adopted by the executive board.  The budget ratification meeting has a number of different requirements and provisions that are unlike other meetings of a community association.  Notably, a budget ratification meeting does not have a quorum requirement, which is dramatically different from typical annual or special meetings. In addition, the budget ratification meeting has special … 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

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

HOA & Condo National Law Seminar and Other Programs

Several HOA/condo association learning opportunities are coming up that you may wish to attend, both in North Carolina as well as nationally. Details for each program can be found below. 2018 National Community Association Law Seminar The national Community Association Law Seminar is the premiere HOA and condo legal program held each year. The year’s Law Seminar, sponsored by the Community Associations Institute (CAI) and the College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL), is the 39th annual and will be held January 31-February 3 in Palm Springs, CA. The Law Seminar is mostly attended by attorneys, but it’s not just for … Continue reading

Enforcement: Might a Local Ordinance Help Your Community Association?

What can an HOA or condominium association do when activity is occurring within the community that appears to be objectionable, but which is not specifically addressed in the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions or other association governing documents? The clear answer, if the association wants enforcement power, is to amend the governing documents by following the proper procedure. Vague restrictions are difficult to enforce, and we always recommend amending governing documents to make restrictions as clear as possible. Unfortunately, as most association members are aware, the amendment process can take some time. What if the objectionable activity needs to … Continue reading

Required E-mail Notice of Collection Proceedings?

Lawyers get asked about reported cases all the time, but usually what happens in a specific lawsuit isn’t that relevant to parties not involved in the case. That’s because circumstances are different, facts vary, associations are created at different times, it’s a condo instead of an HOA, etc.  That said, the decision in an appellate case can be instructive, and that’s certainly the case with a decision regarding collections this week from the NC Court of Appeals. In the case In re: Ackah a homeowners association foreclosed on a lot for nonpayment of assessments. The property was eventually sold to … Continue reading

How to Help after Hurricane Harvey

These blogs often focus on community association issues, whether hot topics, new appellate cases, or proposed federal or state laws. Today there’s a more pressing issue to address—the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. Without question, what’s happened in Texas is also a community association and community association resident disaster. Texas is third among states (only behind Florida and California) in its number of community associations, with more than 19,900 HOA/condo associations and more than 4 million residents. Many of them now face dangerous conditions and uncertain futures. Everyone also likely knows someone who has been personally affected. Houston attorney Mark … Continue reading

Best Lawyers Recognition

Two attorneys at Black, Slaughter & Black have been named to the 2018 edition of U.S. News – Best Lawyers. Best Lawyers recognition is based on peer reviews and client recommendations. Barbara Morgenstern been recognized by Best Lawyers in the practice of Family Law as well as Family Law Mediation. Barbara has also been named a “Legal Elite” by Business North Carolina magazine and a North Carolina Super Lawyer for Family Law. She is a Certified Specialist in family law by the NC State Bar, a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Past President of the NC Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial … Continue reading

Mediation and Arbitration Study for HOAs and Condos

Senate Bill 16 was vetoed by Governor Cooper on August 15, 2017, for reasons other than the proposal described below. The proposed study of a mediation and arbitration board by the Legislative Research Commission below is on hold until the legislature votes on whether or not to override the veto. The General Assembly met yesterday (August 3) to consider several issues remaining from the legislative session. Bills that would impact North Carolina’s homeowner and condominium associations weren’t really on the agenda, but one proposal was adopted that has a provision concerning community associations. Senate Bill 16: Business & Agency Reg. … 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

NC Community Association Legislative Wrap-Up – July 2017

The General Assembly adjourned its 2018 regular session this month, so questions have arisen about what happens to proposals that would have directly impacted North Carolina’s homeowner and condominium associations (see NC Community Association Legislative Update-June 22, 2017), but weren’t adopted. The clear answer: “It depends.” Although legislators left town, they haven’t really left for good. The adjournment resolution provided that special legislative sessions will be held in August, September, and again by November. While these sessions are intended to be focused on legislative redistricting and other major issues, the General Assembly can consider what it wishes. While it is unlikely … Continue reading

NC Community Association Legislative Update – June 22, 2017

I’m asked frequently about the status of  proposals filed this session in the General Assembly that, if adopted, would directly impact North Carolina HOAs and condominium associations. The “crossover deadline” (the date on which a bill must have cleared one chamber to move forward) has passed, which means this a good time to check in on various bills. (FYI, while the crossover deadline is a big deal, keep in mind the News & Observer’s warning several years ago: “[Legislative] rules are made to be circumvented, so there are many ways to keep legislation alive.”) UNDERSTAND THAT ALL OF THESE ARE PROPOSALS, … Continue reading

Communities for Those 55 Years of Age or Older

Recently we have been approached by multiple associations inquiring about making their housing community one that is restricted to those residents that are 55 years of age or older.   The ability and requirements for establishing or becoming a housing community for those 55 years of age or older is governed by the federal Housing for Older Persons Act (HOPA).  The Act applies to homeowners associations and condominium associations that wish to impose this type of age requirement.  HOPA is an exemption to the Fair Housing Act (FHA) which prohibits discrimination in housing-related transactions based on race, color, religion, sex, national … Continue reading

Challenging the Chairman of a Meeting

Have you ever been at a meeting that you did not believe was being run properly?  Is the chair ruling every motion out of order?  Were you unsure on what you could do or did you feel like there was nothing you could do?  Fortunately, there are actions that you can take in these situations.  If your group utilizes Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, then there are several procedures that allow you to challenge the chair if you believe the meeting is not being run properly. One procedure some people might not be aware of to challenge the ruling … Continue reading

Do You Know Who Your Registered Agent Is?

North Carolina corporations, whether for-profit or nonprofit, must have a registered agent name filed with the NC Secretary of State. Planned communities (i.e., homeowner associations) created on or after January 1, 1999 by statute must be incorporated. And almost all homeowner and condominium associations in North Carolina ARE incorporated, regardless of when they were created. So an important question is, “Do you know who your registered agent is?” Finding Your Registered Agent The process of determining your current registered agent is fairly straightforward. Just visit the Secretary of State’s corporate search page and search for your corporate name (be careful, as different corporations often … Continue reading

NC Community Association Legislative Update – Community Association Property Management Act

While most NC General Assembly bill filing deadlines have passed, legislation considered appropriations or finance can be filed through next week. A bill introduced yesterday would, if adopted, significantly impact North Carolina’s HOA/condo associations as well as community managers. House Bill 865: Community Association Property Management Act was filed April 20, 2017 by Rep. Jonathan Jordan (Ashe, Watauga), Rep. John Blust (Guilford), and Rep. Rodney Moore (Mecklenburg) and provides that: beginning October 1, 2017, all community association managers must have an NC real estate broker license association community managers would not be permitted to exercise control over (a) the reserves or investment … Continue reading

NC Community Association Legislative Update – April 19, 2017

Several important legislative deadlines have passed in recent weeks. Tuesday, April 4 marked the NC Senate deadline for filing public bills and resolutions. Tuesday, April 11 marked the NC House deadline for filing public bills and resolutions (other than appropriations or finance bills). While there are a still a few ways for bills impacting HOAs or condos to be introduced in the General Assembly this session, now is an appropriate point to look at the filed bills that, if adopted, would directly impact North Carolina’s community associations. (1) Senate Bill 491/House Bill 625: HOA/Condo Crime & Fidelity Insurance Policies. Senate Bill 491: … Continue reading

NC Community Association Legislative Update – Fidelity Coverage & Audits

While there are still several weeks for legislative proposals to be introduced in the General Assembly, one bill introduced yesterday (March 29) would directly impact North Carolina condominium and homeowner associations: Senate Bill 491: HOA/Condo Crime & Fidelity Insurance Policies filed by Sen. Norman Sanderson (Carteret, Craven, Pamlico). The bill’s purposes are to (1) require more financial transparency in community associations, and (2) help ensure associations recover monies in the event of financial wrongdoing by an association leader or community manager. In short, SB 491 takes a different approach than some prior proposals on how to address concerns about financial … Continue reading