NC Community Association Legislative Update – June 21, 2022

ADOPTED BILL HAS IMPORTANT HOA/CONDO FIXES AND CHANGES TO HOW CONDOS ARE CREATED Due to other more pressing issues, several important bills impacting community associations were not addressed by the General Assembly in 2021. Those proposals have seen quick action this week, been adopted, and sent to the Governor for signature. Senate Bill 278’s(“SB278”) important features include that it: (1) “rescues” many older associations from concerns about the Marketable Title Act due to appellate decisions in 2021, (2) makes clear the NC Condominium Act applies to older condos when pursuing unpaid assessments, and (3) changes how condominiums are created. (The … Continue reading

North Carolina Supreme Court Issues Important Solar Panel Case

Harmony Taylor & David Wilson In a case of wide-reaching impact, the North Carolina Supreme Court on Friday, June 17, 2022, issued its decision in Belmont Association, Inc. v. Farwig. An earlier blog discussed the factual background and decision from the Court of Appeals in detail.   By way of brief summary, the homeowners in this case installed solar panels on the front facing façade of their roof without approval and the homeowners association commenced fines. Nothing in the declaration explicitly regulated solar collectors, but the association, pursuant to its general authority over architectural matters and aesthetics, refused to allow … Continue reading

Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track

My newest book, Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track, is now available! My first book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Parliamentary Procedure Fast-Track (2012) has been very popular, and Penguin asked for a new edition of the book updated for the new Robert’s Rule of Order and to include a discussion of  virtual and electronic meetings. Proper meeting procedure is more important than ever—especially in these contentious times. With that in mind, the book also covers dealing with problem members and problem chairs. To better reflect its focus, the book has been renamed Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track: The … Continue reading

A Loved One Has Died, What Should I Do?

Whether it be a parent, grandparent, or otherwise, when a loved one dies, creating a “to do” list is not the first thing often on a grieving family member’s mind.  However, we do live in a check it off the list, “get it done” type of world and so I often have family members call me the day of or day after the death of a loved one asking for counsel.  I get questions such as “should we go to the courthouse?”, “when is the reading of the Will?” and “should I pay [enter outstanding bill here]?”.  All of these … Continue reading

Is it “safe” for community associations to allow food trucks on common areas?

Food trucks are very on trend right now, and many homeowner and condominium associations are considering inviting them to gatherings and community wide parties. Hopefully, boards think before they make a call and reach out to their attorney or manager to make sure that they are proceeding legally. Here are some thoughts to consider when choosing when or how to invite a food truck to your next community event. First, boards generally have the right to decide whether or not to invite or allow food trucks on the common area. Common areas, such as pool decks, clubhouses, community parking lots … Continue reading

It’s Pool Season! Are You Ready?

Pool season is often a homeowner’s favorite time of year, as the weather is warm and they are able to be outside socializing with family and friends.  What better way to beat the heat than the community pool!  While pool amenities can offer an outlet for relaxation and socialization for the members, it can often be a source of angst for the Board and manager. Here are a few short tips to make sure you are prepared for the season: Review and revise your pool rules.  Community associations can almost always create reasonable rules and regulations to govern their common … Continue reading

Drone Surveillance in Community Associations

Ah, spring. Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, and the sound of power saws, stone cutters and earth moving equipment fills the air. This country is in the midst of a construction boom, and more homeowners than ever before are undertaking home improvement projects. In community associations, these improvements usually require some type of architectural approval to make certain that, once constructed, the new pool, patio or pergola will be aesthetically pleasing and harmonious with surrounding structures.  The process is supposed to start with the owner submitting an architectural request, but sometimes owners don’t know or care to do so. … Continue reading

How to Avoid Yellow Card Hell

My parliamentary articles tend to be general. Most often, they address broad procedural issues of widespread concern. This one is rather specific, as it addresses a practice most often encountered by state affiliates of the National Education Association (NEA), although some other types of organizations have similar procedures. Different meetings have different methods of recognition, most often due to past practice or convention standing rules. The NEA and its state affiliate meetings have long used recognition cards for those wishing to speak. Unlike voting cards (described in Voting Cards at Conventions & Annual Meetings), recognition cards are different and explained … Continue reading

Is It Time for a Post-Pandemic Bylaws Review?

The following article from Mark Athitakis appeared on May 15, 2022 in Associations Now from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). The full article can be found by clicking here. Is It Time for a Post-Pandemic Bylaws Review? Antiquated bylaws can lock associations into a structure that makes little sense today. One expert explains why now is a good time for a refresh. Among the many things the pandemic has exposed are problems with association bylaws. Meetings were upended and the makeup of membership changed, but an association’s governing documents haven’t always adapted to that new reality. “Some [associations] have … Continue reading

Happy Birthday to the Author of Robert’s Rules of Order

Today (May 2, 2022) is 185 years since the birth of Henry Martyn Robert, the author of the original Robert’s Rules of Order. He was born May 2, 1837, in Robertville, SC, served in the Union Army, and eventually rose to General in the Army Corps of Engineers. Robert’s first edition, published in 1876, was far different than today’s Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (12th Edition) published by the Robert’s Rules Association. For starters, it was only 176 pages. Robert’s stated intent was to create a “very brief pocket manual, so cheap that every member of a church or … Continue reading

Tips on Filling Out the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac Questionnaire

Effective early this year Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two largest purchasers of residential real estate mortgages from lenders, started requiring information regarding the structural integrity and plans for addressing deferred maintenance for almost all condominium buildings. This is in direct response to the tragedy of the partial collapse of the Champlain Towers in Florida. Is the Association legally obligated to complete the questionnaire? Unless the governing documents of the Association require it (which is highly unlikely) the Association is not obligated to complete the questionnaire; however, not filling out the questionnaire will almost certainly result in 60-70% of … Continue reading

Federal Legislation Introduced to Address Financing Condo Safety Repairs

On April 18, 2022, Representatives Charlie Crist and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (both U.S. Representatives from Florida) introduced the Securing Access to Finance Exterior Repairs (“SAFER) in Condos Act of 2022.  The bill is designed to address one of the main problems identified following the partial collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, last year.  Although many condominiums may need significant structural repairs, a recurring problem has always been the ability to obtain financing to pay for the costs of those repairs.  Following the collapse, many condominium associations have begun to evaluate their own buildings in earnest and investigate their … Continue reading

Voting Cards at Conventions & Annual Meetings

Although COVID-19 is (hopefully) waning, there are still concerns about immediately going back to the way things used to be done at annual meetings. For instance, the most common method pre-pandemic of voting during large meetings was by voice. On any matter to be decided, the presiding officer would ask all those in favor to say “AYE,” and those opposed to say “NO.” With continuing concerns about the virus, both leaders and health professionals have questioned whether hundreds or thousands of delegates should all be yelling in a crowded room at the same time, masked or not. There are alternatives … Continue reading

New Appellate Decision Impacts Declaration Amendments

In a decision issued today (April 5, 2022), the North Carolina Court of Appeals makes potentially significant changes to how amendments to declarations are adopted. As a result, associations considering declaration amendments should consult their attorney to make certain the process meets the new standards for adoption. Bryan v. Kittinger is a “published opinion,” which means the decision is controlling legal authority and can be cited in other cases. Interestingly, though the opinion impacts associations, there is no association involved as a named party in the case. Instead, this dispute is between two lot owners in the Sleepy Hollow Subdivision … Continue reading

What is the Board of Adjustment?

The Board of Adjustment is a group of members that are appointed by a local government, such as a City or Town, pursuant to NCGS 160D-302, to “hear and decide all matters upon which it is required to pass under any statute or development regulation adopted under this Chapter.”  So what in the world does that mean?  Typically a Board of Adjustment hears appeals, variance requests, or requests for special use permits as required under state statute and any local development ordinance.   The Board is appropriately named as, when you think about it, they can adjust from the strict application … Continue reading

Completely Updated Parliamentary Procedure Website with Resources

For almost thirty years, my parliamentary procedure website has had more articles and resources on meeting procedure and Robert’s Rules of Order than most anywhere else online. In part due to the new Robert’s Rules of Order (released 2020), the site has been completely revamped and updated, with all references now to Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (12th Edition). The updated website includes: Dozens of charts and articles on running effective meetings, all revised to the new Robert’s 12th Edition. Guides/”cheat sheets” to the new Robert’s and other major parliamentary manuals, including The Standard Code. Tips on how smaller … Continue reading

Thoughts on Bylaws: Individual Amendments, Bylaws Revisions, and Best Practices on Amending Bylaws

There are usually three main governing documents that most nonprofit corporations have today—corporate articles, bylaws, and board policy. The corporate articles (or “articles of incorporation” or “corporate charter”) are a legal document filed with the state and should have only statutory requirements, such as name of organization, address, service agent, etc. That said, older articles sometimes have additional provisions, including ones touching on governance, such as who can serve as a director, board size, date of annual meeting, etc. If you are considering bylaws changes, make certain to get a copy of any corporate articles to make certain there are … Continue reading

South Carolina Launches New SC Homeowner Rescue Program (SC HRP)

As my colleague, Jim Slaughter, reported last month, the new federal Homeowner Assistance Fund established a program with nearly $10 billion for states to provide relief to those suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. For South Carolina homeowners who have become delinquent in their HOA or condo assessments during the pandemic, this program may offer assistance. In general terms, the SC Homeowner Rescue Program (SC HRP) accepts applications from South Carolina homeowners who were impacted by the pandemic and need assistance with housing-related expenses. Funds may be available on a first-come, first-served basis. There are income requirements, as well as … Continue reading

Maintaining Confidentiality on your Board (or in your Committee)

Individuals who agree to serve on boards for their community associations will inevitably find themselves receiving confidential information about their friends and neighbors. This may be information about an alleged architectural violation, or an unpaid balance due to the association. Sometimes the association will receive complaints about police called to a home, only to learn later of alleged drug activity or a domestic violence situation. This may seem like juicy gossip, and it can be tempting to share this information with others. However, directors owe certain duties of confidentiality to their members, and understanding these duties is essential for the … Continue reading

Finding the Right HOA/Condo Lawyer

Given our firm’s large practice in the Carolinas and our many online resources, I’m asked weekly by individuals in others states about how to find the right community association lawyer for an HOA/condo issue. Community association law is a very focused practice area. There are a number of online directories and Bar lists that can direct you to attorneys who focus on homeowner and condominium associations. However, if you want to find an attorney with a significant HOA/condo practice who has been recognized for exceptional work, I’d recommend starting with the Fellows in CAI’s College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL). … Continue reading