COVID-19 Update: North Carolina to Remain in Phase 2, Additional Restrictions

NC Governor Roy Cooper announced today, June 24, that on Friday, June 26 the State will NOT move to a “Phase 3” with regards to coronavirus restrictions. North Carolina will instead remain in Phase 2 for at least an additional 3 weeks as a result of failing to meet certain key benchmarks. In addition, new face mask requirements have been added. Here are some highlights for North Carolina’s homeowner and condominium associations: Phase 2 restrictions will remain in place through at least 5 pm on July 17, 2020. Restrictions on gatherings remain in place. Executive Order #141 issued on May … Continue reading

NC Community Association Legislative Update – June 24, 2020

Like most everything else in 2020, this year’s legislative session has not been typical. This is the second legislative year of the 2019-2020 Session. Normally, some of the bills that survived “crossover” in 2019 (see NC Community Association Legislative Update – May 10, 2019) would be tweaked and considered, but new significant legislation is not all that common in the second year of a session. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and everything related to that, the financial crisis, and numerous social issues that risen to the forefront, the focus of this year’s legislative session has mostly been on new proposals … Continue reading

Requirements for South Carolina HOA/Condo Pools for Re-Opening After May 18, 2020

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic the community association attorneys at Black Slaughter Black, P.A. have been closely monitoring the Executive Orders from the South Carolina Governor, county and city Orders, and the recommendations of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Controls, along with those of the Center for Disease Control. On May 11, 2020 Governor Henry McMaster announced that fitness centers and pools (“Amenities”) may re-open on Monday, May 18, 2020 with certain requirements which are mandated (“Requirements”) and with guidelines that are strongly recommended but not mandated (“Guidelines”). As of the time of this writing … Continue reading

North Carolina Extends Moratorium on Residential and Commercial Evictions

Governor Cooper and Justice Beasley signed Orders over the weekend which place an additional 21 day moratorium on residential and commercial evictions, effective May 30, 2020. While tenants are still encouraged to timely pay rent as it becomes due, the Orders place restrictions on the steps that landlords may take to remove a tenant from the property, at least from May 30, 2020 through June 20, 2020 (the “Effective Period”). Below is an overview of the Orders as they apply to residential and commercial property. Residential: -All evictions pending in the trial divisions, whether summary ejectment or otherwise, are stayed … Continue reading

Pools in Phase 2: Requirements for Reopening NC HOA/Condo Pools

NC Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order 141 (“Easing Restrictions on Travel, Business Operations, and Mass Gatherings: Phase 2”) on May 20, 2020  which will allow homeowner and condominium association pools to re-open on Friday, May 22 at 5:00 p.m. However, certain requirements must be in place. The Order imposes mandated “Requirements” that must be followed as well as “Guidelines” that are strongly recommended (but not mandated).  If the directors of an NC community association are discussing opening the association’s pool, the board should, at a minimum, consider the following Steps: STEP 1 – The Governor’s announcement and authorization to … Continue reading

Title Fraud or Deed Theft and Preventative Measures

Recently our office has received inquiries regarding advertisements from companies offering services to protect against home title fraud, also frequently called deed theft. Many do not know what title fraud is, or whether they need to pay a service to guard against it. The concept of title fraud generally involves recording forged or altered documents in a county’s registry that purport to transfer ownership of real estate from one party to another. Once a county’s records have been updated to show the fraudster or their affiliated entity as the property’s owner, the criminal may attempt to sell the property or … 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

Emergency Video Notarization in North Carolina in the Real Estate Transaction Context during the COVID-19 Crisis

On May 4, 2020, the North Carolina Governor signed into law Senate Bill 704.  The Law was drafted specifically to respond to hardships created by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Crisis.  One of the key provisions of the Law, in consultation with and at the recommendation of the North Carolina Secretary of State, authorizes all Notaries Public of the State of North Carolina to, “temporarily perform emergency video notarizations so that notarial acts will not impede crucial business transactions, real estate transactions, medical documents, court documents, and most other important document notarizations.”  This emergency authorization is a temporary authorization, as … Continue reading

Re-Opening Risks and Liabilities for Businesses in the Era of COVID-19*

As businesses throughout North Carolina begin to plan for and undertake re-opening, concern for the safety of customers and employees is a central focus for many. Prudent businesses of all types or areas including, for example, realtors, management companies, construction companies, retailers, and accountants or other professionals, should also pause to consider and understand their potential liability to those customers, employees and third-parties they serve, utilize and otherwise come into contact with while fulfilling their business functions. A business’ risk, however, isn’t as straightforward or simple as most of us would assume or like, and assessing your potential liability requires … Continue reading

Emergency Video Notarization: What Real Estate Agents Need to Know

This past Monday, May 4, 2020, Governor Cooper signed Senate Bill 704, enacted as Session Law 2020-3, which is designed to aid North Carolinians in response to the Coronavirus disease. Of particular interest to Real Estate Agents is the portion of the bill found in Part IV entitled “Emergency Video Notarization.” Currently, when a real estate document requires notarization, that means the homebuyer must be “physically present” in front of the notary in order for the notarization to take place. Here at Black, Slaughter & Black, P.A. we are experienced with our attorneys utilizing a variety of methods to close … Continue reading

What Your NC & SC Community Should Consider Before Opening Pools Amid COVID-19 Concerns

Many of our association clients are asking whether the board should open the association’s pool in May as originally scheduled, and if so, what additional rules should the board consider in light of the ongoing COVID-19 health concerns. As an initial step the board of directors must confirm whether there are state, county, city, or other municipal restrictions, including health department restrictions, that may prohibit the association’s pool from being open.  If there are, the pool must remain closed.  In the event that no executive order or government regulations require the pool to remain closed there are still portions of … Continue reading

Some South Carolina Courts Reopen—Sort Of

Like everyone else in South Carolina, I’ve kept an eye on the latest developments from the court system to see when things can return to normal.  On April 30th the Chief Justice for the South Carolina Supreme Court updated the previous March 18th Order relating to foreclosure cases.  Among other things, the new April 30th Order provides that “Master-in-Equity courts statewide shall resume foreclosure hearings, foreclosure sales, issuing writs of assistance and writs of ejectments, and proceed in any other manner regarding foreclosures beginning May 15, 2020.”  What that means for your homeowners association is that certain collections cases that … Continue reading

How to Leave Money, Assets or an Inheritance to a Minor Child in North Carolina

Until a child reaches the age of eighteen (18), they cannot inherit property outright, or in their own name. It needs to be held for that child in one of several different ways. First, money or property can be left to a minor in a trust. Second, it can be left to a child under a court-supervised guardianship and third, it can be left to a child under the North Carolina uniform Transfer to Minors Act. Trust – A trust can be established during life or through a Will at someone’s death. If money is left to a minor child … Continue reading

WEBINAR: The Next Normal – Lifting COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Orders & The Impact on Community Associations

This week the Community Associations Institute (CAI) hosted a free live webinar on “The Next Normal – Lifting COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Orders & The Impact on Community Associations.” The goal was to provide timely, helpful information on how community associations prepare for the lifting of stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic and the approaches homeowner and condominium associations will need to take to reopen common areas and amenities.  Jim Slaughter of Black, Slaughter & Black participated as a panelist. If you did not see the program (or did and wish to share it with someone), CAI has made webinar available as a … Continue reading

How South Carolina’s Reopenings May Affect Your Homeowners Association

Whether your community chooses to keep its common areas open or closed is a matter of discretion and all HOA / Condo boards in South Carolina must use their best business judgment to make that determination. Over the past two days South Carolina has reopened some retail establishments, beaches, and state parks.  Although the State has not seen a significant downward trend in coronavirus cases for 14 days (as the White House recommended) Governor McMaster was comfortable reopening, relying instead on professional opinions in South Carolina and the fact that people seem to be complying with social distancing.  A copy … Continue reading

Notices Required by Employers in the Era of COVID-19

Employers have long been required, in accordance with various federal and state laws and regulations, to provide notices to their employees concerning their rights.  Thanks to COVID-19, most North Carolina employers can add to that list.  In particular, employers should be aware of the following additional notices obligations: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) provides employees of covered employers with paid sick and other leave related to COVID-19.  Employers are required to post notices to employees, which posters can be downloaded for free at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic. Pursuant to newly enacted, emergency rule 04 NCAC 24G .0102, employers must, at the … Continue reading

New Architectural Review Decision from the Court of Appeals: Martin v. The Landfall Council of Associations, Inc.

The NC Court of Appeals issued a new architectural review committee decision this morning, April 21, 2020, in Martin v. The Landfall Council of Associations, Inc. The case is an “unpublished” opinion from the NC Court of Appeals, 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 subsequent courts may rule. (For another recent ARC decision from the Court of Appeals, see Don’t Screw Up Your Architectural Committee and Approval Process.) In Landfall Council of … Continue reading

Stimulus Funds Could Be Accessed by Creditors

Starting this week, many North Carolinians will be receiving emergency stimulus payments authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). For many individuals, that payment will be directly deposited into their bank account. Our Attorney General joined with several other state attorneys general on April 13, 2020 to request that the U.S. Department of the Treasury take immediate action to protect these funds from being accessible to creditors and instead ensure that the money goes to individuals to use for housing, food and other urgent needs. Right now, however, unlike Social Security, disability, and veterans’ payments, … Continue reading

North Carolina Estate Planning and the Coronavirus

Estate Planning practices are busier than ever. Clients are very concerned whether their estate plans are up to date and in order. Often clients have been meaning to make changes and do not get around to it. Something as frightening as a pandemic makes us stop and think about the important things in life—like making sure our loved ones are cared for in the event of an unlikely circumstance. Here are some suggestions of what you might consider at this time. Review your Last Will and Testament or Revocable Living Trust – do they accurately reflect your wishes if you … Continue reading

NC HOA/Condo Budget Ratification During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way we all do business. Homeowners associations and condominium associations are not immune to this new normal. Our firm has blogged extensively how to conduct association business during the COVID-19 crisis in order to promote social distancing and best stay compliant with the ever-changing status of the North Carolina Governor’s executive orders. One question that continues to come up is how to ratify the association’s budget when holding a meeting seems impossible. The budget ratification process is dependent on several factors including when your association was established. For example, the Condominium Act process for … Continue reading