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

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

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

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

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

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

What Is a President-Elect?

Because bylaws sometimes have a position called “President-Elect,” I am occasionally asked about the precise responsibilities of the office. A question back has to be “What responsibilities do the specific bylaws provide for the office?” That’s because there is no standard list of duties for a President-Elect in Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, as there are for other officers. So different presidents-elect in different organizations may have different responsibilities based on the bylaws language creating the position. For organizations that follow Robert’s, a President-Elect position exists only if expressly provided for in the bylaws. The sole function of the … Continue reading

Do You or Owners Need Assistance Paying HOA/Condo Dues? – The NC Homeowner Assistance Fund May Help

Last year President Biden proposed and Congress adopted the American Rescue Plan, which was a $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package designed to speed America’s recovery from the Covid pandemic. Among the bill’s many proposals was almost $10 billion for states, territories and tribes to provide relief to vulnerable homeowners through a “Homeowner Assistance Fund.” Monies from the Homeowners Assistance Fund were not immediately available. Instead, each state had to draft a state-specific plan, submit it to the US government, and get the plan approved by the US Treasury. In each state, different sorts of relief were considered, such as mortgage … Continue reading

Robert’s Rules of Order vs The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure vs the AIP Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure

A question came up during a recent online discussion of pros and cons between Robert’s Rules of Order and The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure. One comment asked if Robert’s was “archaic and obsolete.” Here’s my answer. There are several major parliamentary manuals, with Robert’s Rules of Order being the best known. Robert’s Rules and parliamentary procedure are viewed as one and the same by most of the public. Of organizations that have a parliamentary authority in their governing documents, Robert’s is by far the most common choice (some surveys suggest 80%-90%) . State statutes that prescribe a parliamentary authority for some types of … Continue reading

New Appellate Case: Almason v. Southgate on Fairview Condominium Association

In a decision issued today (February 1, 2022), the North Carolina Court of Appeals examined several issues that associations deal with regularly—budget ratification, owner attendance at board meetings, rules governing board meetings, and association records requests. Nothing in the decision is groundbreaking, but the findings of the court may provide comfort that your association practices are proper (or may suggest you need to make some changes). Almason v. Southgate on Fairview Condominium Association, Inc. et al. is an “unpublished opinion,” which means the decision is not controlling legal authority and should not be cited in other cases. However, even unpublished … Continue reading

There Is No “Meeting by Ballot” Under New NC Law

Our firm’s attorneys have seen several recent association mailings entitled something to the effect of “Meeting by Ballot” or “Annual Meeting by Ballot.” It appears there is a belief among some that the recent adoption of House Bill 320 (“Modernize Remote Business Access”) created a new method of members meeting through a written instrument. It did not. As discussed in the recent post Does New Law Mean Associations Don’t Have to Hold Annual Meetings?, North Carolina has two main methods for association members to make decisions: A membership meeting, which can be held in person or under the new statute … Continue reading

Does New Law Mean Associations Don’t Have to Hold Annual Meetings?

Since HB 320 passed (see Bill Adopted to Allow Electronic Membership Meetings and Voting in North Carolina Associations), we’ve had questions to the effect of “Do we have to hold annual member meetings anymore?” The thinking seems to be that because the new law allows decisions by “written ballots or electronic voting” that you could use those methods and forego the annual meeting. That is, a written or electronic ballot could be sent out for everything that needs to be handled at the annual meeting and then have no meeting at all.   Anyone who suggests that the new law … Continue reading

NC Governor Signs Bill Allowing Remote Member Meetings

As a follow-up to last week’s Community Association Legislative Update (Bill Adopted to Allow Electronic Membership Meetings and Voting in North Carolina Associations), Governor Roy Cooper signed HB 320 (“Modernize Remote Business Access”) yesterday, September 20. The law takes effect effect immediately. NC homeowner and condominium associations (as well as other nonprofit associations) can now choose to hold virtual member meetings or make decisions without a meeting through written or electronic balloting or electronic voting, so long as certain requirements are met. The new law applies to any member meetings noticed as of today. In addition, remote member meetings noticed and held … Continue reading

Bill Adopted to Allow Electronic Membership Meetings and Voting in North Carolina Associations

NC Community Association Legislative Update – September 15, 2021 Community association (HOA and condo) boards have long been permitted to meet virtually by phone or videoconference, but the ability to hold membership meetings electronically ended with the expiration of the Governor’s Executive Order this spring. Since that time, while members can certainly meet virtually as an informal “town hall” and then vote afterwards by written ballot, it has not been possible to hold virtual membership meetings. And even under the Governor’s prior Executive Order, members could not vote during virtual meetings. That’s all changing with the adoption today of legislation … Continue reading

Changes to Special Assessment Language in North Carolina Realtor Standard “Offer to Purchase and Contract”

As discussed in previous blogs (see What’s Special about Special Assessments?), HOA/condo special assessments are referenced in the North Carolina standard Offer to Purchase and Contract form. By way of background, the NC Bar Association and NC Association of Realtors® have “Joint Forms” used in residential real estate closings. The standard “Offer to Purchase and Contract” (Standard Form 2-T) is used in most any closing involving a Realtor®. Effective July 1, 2021, there are various changes to the Standard Offer to Purchase and Contract, including the following language regarding special assessments: In Paragraph 1(n), the distinctions between a “proposed” and … Continue reading

Avoiding Legal Landmines: Advice for HOA/Condo Board Members & Managers

Earlier this week, I presented at the CAI-NC 2021 Annual Conference on how associations, board members and managers can “Avoid Legal Land Mines.” I won’t repeat the presentation here, as the entire program can be found at the CAI-NC website. However, here are tips to help keep your association out of court. Our firm does a huge HOA/condo practice in five different offices. As a result, we regularly see every kind of dispute between owners and associations. Not all will end up in court. After all, a violation over a garbage can being left out is likely not worth litigating. … Continue reading