Change in the Law – North Carolina Year’s Allowance

As of January 2019 the Year’s Allowance in North Carolina has been adjusted. For a surviving spouse there is an increase in the statutory allowance from $30,000.00 to $60,000.00. The Spousal Allowance is intended as a type of stop-gap; a means of meeting the immediate needs of the surviving spouse when he or she is widowed and presumably assets may be tied up during the estate administration. The $60,000.00 Spousal Allowance is authorized by statute to provide for necessities. It may only be paid from the personal property of the Decedent and not from real property. With the exception of … 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 Makar vs. Mimosa Bay Homeowners Association is an “unpublished” opinion from the NC Court of Appeals.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 However, even unpublished opinions give a sense of the Court’s thinking as to specific issues and how subsequent courts may rule.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. Black, Slaughter & Black 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 … Continue reading

Update on Changes to Overtime Requirements Under Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards Act (commonly referred to as the FLSA) applies to most employers throughout our country and, indirectly, their employees.  The FLSA sets the floor or minimum wage that must be paid to employees and dictates when employers are required to pay overtime to their employees.  An exception to such overtime requirement has long existed for administrative employees paid a set salary in excess of $23,600.00 per year.  In 2016, the Department of Labor announced changes to the minimum salary level, which changes would have raised the threshold to $47,476.00 per year.  Shortly before the changes were to … Continue reading

Marital Rights in North Carolina Real Estate

Occasionally sellers of real property, or borrowers in refinance transactions, are confused upon being informed their spouse is required to sign certain documents at closing.  It’s not uncommon for closing attorneys to receive inquiries wondering “why do they need to sign?  They’ve never had anything to do with this property!”  While it’s certainly possible to purchase and hold property individually, a married person generally needs to involve their spouse in some manner when selling or refinancing North Carolina real estate. The concept of marital rights in real property descended from English common law principles designed to benefit the surviving spouse … Continue reading

New Year, New Taxes: How the New Year Could Affect North Carolina Property Taxes

The beginning of the year is often filled with thoughts of the future, personal resolutions you want to keep, and the hope of spring being just around the corner. The last thing you want to think about is property taxes. However, in many North Carolina counties, the New Year may also bring with it higher property taxes. In North Carolina, real property taxes are based on the value of real property on January 1st of that year. Theoretically, that means that the value of your home or real property as it stands on January 1st is the value on which … Continue reading

Buying Property at Foreclosure Sales

So, are you thinking of purchasing property at a foreclosure sale?  Perhaps you think that you can make a lot of money buying a house in foreclosure, and then flipping it.  Certainly some people do very well doing just that.  HOWEVER if it looks too good to be true, then it likely is. Before you bid in a foreclosure sale, there are several things to consider.  First, understand how foreclosure sales in North Carolina work.  The foreclosure sale is going to be set for a specific time between 10 am and 4 pm on a day the courthouse is open.  … Continue reading

Does Your Board Meeting Need a Parliamentarian?

In large association membership meetings or conventions, it is common to find someone serving as parliamentarian (whether a member or outside credentialed professional). A question I’m often asked, though, is “Does our board meeting need a parliamentarians”? (For purposes of full disclosure, I’m an attorney, Certified Professional Parliamentarian, Professional Registered Parliamentarian, past President of the American College of Parliamentary Lawyers, and author of two books on meeting procedure.) A parliamentarian is simply an adviser to the presiding officer and other officers, committees and members on matters of meeting procedure. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, but:  The president and board members … Continue reading

Inheriting Real Property and No Deed to Show For It.

When you find out that you have inherited real property, a reasonable assumption might be that a deed is forthcoming. After all, when we buy real property we get a deed to show that we own it. However, with inherited real property in North Carolina, there is no new deed. It may seem counter-intuitive but it is the practice. The reason for this is because real property passes immediately upon death in North Carolina. Therefore, you owned the property as soon as the person who left it to you died. Of course, if the person who died has a lot … Continue reading

What an HOA “Transfer Fee” Is—And What It Is Not

The term “transfer fee” is used in North Carolina incorrectly all the time. Misuse is common even among professionals. Recently I’ve heard both real estate brokers and real estate attorneys refer to items as “transfer fees” that were not. Since there is a statute that regulates and can even prohibit improper transfer fees, it’s important to use the correct term. Let’s start with a bit of background. Since 2010 North Carolina state statute has defined a transfer fee as a “fee or charge payable upon the transfer of an interest in real property . . . regardless of whether the … Continue reading

E-recording in North and South Carolina

E-recording of legal documents in local registries, while not exactly new (first one recorded in 2000 in Salt Lake County, Utah), has become much more widespread in use in recent years both by jurisdictions accepting this method of recording as well as local attorneys utilizing the same.  There are currently 1856 jurisdictions accepting e-recordings and growing.  North Carolina and South Carolina each participate though not at 100% for either state.  North Carolina has 81 out of 100 counties currently with ability to e-record and South Carolina has 19 out of 46.  The participating counties are mostly skewed to the more … Continue reading

Planning for the Future of Your Community Through Reserve Funding

As properties within homeowners and condominium associations age, inevitably maintenance expenses will begin to pile up. Roofs will need to be replaced, deteriorating roads will need to be repaired, and siding may need to be replaced. These are examples of major expenses that do not occur every day, but can often otherwise be anticipated. Planning ahead for these expenditures can be key to the financial health of your association. So how do homeowners and condominium associations pay for these major projects? One method is through reserve funding. This is an amount of the collected assessments that are set aside to … Continue reading

Details on the 2019 National Community Association Law Seminar!

As past President of the College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL), I try to provide details each year on the 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 40th annual and will be held January 23-26, 2019, at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, LA. While the Law Seminar is mostly attended by attorneys, it’s not limited to attorneys. Other participants include insurance professionals, community association managers, other industry leaders who wish to learn about HOA/condo law trends and practices. For … Continue reading

Short-Term Rentals: New Municipal Regulations & HOAs/Condos

The convenience and cost of Airbnb, VRBO, Homeaway and other platforms have made short-term rentals (sometimes called “STRs” or “STVRs” for “short-term vacation rentals”) a booming business. Airbnb said earlier this year that it has over 640,000 hosts and 4 million listings! That said, short-term rentals can bring concerns. For one, too many rentals may change the nature of a community. Some traditional owner-occupied homeowner and condominium associations have found themselves awash in short-term renters. While there is nothing inherently negative about short-term renters, some communities have found that short-term rentals can lead to additional administrative costs, such as determining … Continue reading

Decking the Halls in Your Homeowner’s Association

The fall and winter holiday months are the perfect time to show your holiday spirit. Regardless of which occasion is your favorite, this time of year draws homeowners to the holiday aisles filled with décor of all kinds.  In fact, a recent study revealed that the value of United States imports of Christmas lights alone totaled $463.2 million in 2017.[1] It looks like everyone is eager to spread the holiday cheer. But, before you turn your home into a scene straight out of Christmas with the Kranks, you should make sure your homeowner’s association doesn’t have any prohibitions on the … Continue reading

Trusts in Real Estate Transactions

Trusts have become a more common real estate holding tool, as people take a more aggressive approach to their estate planning. Trusts can be great tools for maintaining the privacy of personal finances and avoiding lengthy probate proceedings. Moving real property in and out of trust is typically no more complicated than recording a properly executed deed to or from the trustee of the trust. Selling property held in trust requires a bit more paperwork, but a skilled attorney should be able to easily guide clients through the additional documents required. For many years, the standard practice in transactions involving … Continue reading

Is There An HOA and Do I Care? Not All Restrictions Are Equal

One duty of a real estate closing attorney is to research the history of title to a tract of real estate and, as a part of that title search, determine what restrictions, if any, are attached to property being purchased.  Restrictions are generally attached either through the agreement of several property owners to be bound by certain restraints, or by a single owner seeking to subdivide property and to have all subdivided lots be under a common subdivision scheme.  In either event, restrictions in North Carolina have to be recorded in the county register of deeds where the real property … Continue reading

Avoiding an Un-Jolly End to the Holiday Fun: What Property Owners and Hosts Need to Know about Premises and Host Liability

The holiday season is a special time of year filled with visitors, get-togethers and mingling.  Most of us are already looking ahead to the joys of family and friends visiting, carolers, parties and yummy food aplenty.  Regrettably, the festivities of the season also open the door or create ripe opportunities for potential for liability.   Property owners and hosts need not, however, turn themselves into Scrooge; rather, personal liability can be avoided or greatly reduced simply by keeping in mind these potential issues and obligations: Premises Liability: North Carolina property owners may be held liable for injuries occurring on their property … Continue reading

Be Careful Driving, Especially This Thanksgiving Weekend

Between November 21 and November 25, North Carolina state troopers in North Carolina will be placed every 20 miles along I-40 in an effort to encourage safe travel. The “Thanksgiving I-40 Challenge” is a joint operation with seven other states along the Interstate 40 corridor. While it is always important to exercise safe driving, here are a couple of important reminders, especially during this holiday season. Here are a few reminders as you get behind the wheel: Expect increased traffic and delays, so allocate additional time for traveling to your destination so that you do not feel the need to … Continue reading