Fair Housing Act Expanded to Include Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing due to a person based on the person’s membership in specific “protected classes.” Protected classes to date have included race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, and disability. In short, the FHA is designed to protect people from discrimination when they are buying a home, renting, obtaining a mortgage, seeking housing assistance, or engaging in other housing-related activities, which can include actions of homeowner and condominium associations. (A list of examples of housing discrimination can be found at HUD’s Housing Discrimination under the Fair Housing Act page.) Last week (February 11, … Continue reading

Automatic-Renewal Contract Clauses

Consider this hot-off-the-press from an agreement I reviewed this morning: “If neither party has given the other thirty (30) days written notice of the desire to terminate this Agreement at the end of the any given contract period, then the term shall be automatically renewed for an additional contract period term.” As service providers—e.g., landscapers, vendors, and pool services—aim to retain clients, an increasing presence in service contracts is the automatic-renewal clause (“Evergreen Clause”). Essentially, an Evergreen Clause provides for automatic renewal following the expiration of an agreement. That is, granting prior consent to extend the term of an agreement … Continue reading

Differences Between Virtual and In-Person Large Annual Meetings or Conventions

[NOTE: This article follows-up Lessons Learned from Large Virtual Conventions, Representative Assemblies, and House of Delegate Meetings, which examined the practical and procedural aspects of large online meetings.] At this point, the genie of virtual meetings is out of the bottle. And likely not to go back in. While it was inevitable that electronic meetings would become more commonplace, the pandemic has instantly made everyone fairly expert at Zoom, GotoMeeting, Microsoft Teams, and other virtual platforms. There is clear benefit to online collaboration, particularly with smaller meetings. Boards of 10 to 25 (or possibly more) can sometimes meet online much … Continue reading

Yes, You Can Hold a Productive North Carolina Annual HOA/Condo Meeting During a Pandemic

In these first few weeks of 2021, we’ve heard from a number of associations who never got around to holding their 2020 annual membership meeting. That’s understandable given how difficult 2020 was. COVID-19 made large in-person gatherings extremely difficult and sometimes impossible. Various state Executive Orders have at times restricted attendance at meetings from only 25 to fewer. (10 is currently the number of members who can be present at an indoor association meeting.) As a result, many associations decided to wait to hold the annual meeting until things improved. But here we are, one year after the first US … Continue reading

Estate Planning in a Pandemic: Remote Document Signings are the Now and Hopefully the Future

A global pandemic will certainly induce one to consider his or her own mortality and, as such, initiate a revisit or beginning of their estate plan.  But paradoxically, the pandemic has also made it more difficult for us to venture out to ensure these matters are in order.  Many nursing homes across the state of North Carolina are on lock down due to the pandemic, making it more difficult to discuss any loose ends of an estate plan with a distressed loved one residing in a care facility.  Despite the increased difficulty during the pandemic, with the emergence of Zoom … Continue reading

North Carolina Medicaid Planning: The Basics

In general, everyone is entitled to enroll in Medicare when they turn 65, which acts as their health insurance for general health care, hospital or doctor visits.  However, while Medicare and supplemental plans may pay for rehab for the first 20 days and a portion up to the 100th day in some cases, Medicare does not pay for long-term care in a skilled nursing or assisted living facility.  The average monthly cost of a skilled nursing facility is around $9,500.  This means you could easily spend through a lifetime of savings in only a short couple of years in a … Continue reading

The Fundamentals of Trusts: Broad Terminology for a Nuanced Field of Study

Trusts are a topic that seem to be often discussed but seldom understood among the general public.  This is not an indictment of a misinformed public, but a commentary on the wealth of information and various channels through which it flows.  Your Google search results, your local banker or even a co-worker may claim to have all the insight on how to plan your estate and “get your affairs in order.”  Clients often tell me they “need a living trust.”  When I ask why they need one, they are unsure how to answer.  I do not ask the question to … Continue reading

We Are Here to Help! Ask Our HOA/Condo Attorneys for Help in the New Year!

Finally it is a new year!  2020 is over, and hopefully brighter days are ahead for you, your families, and your communities.  Whether it was a product of a struggling economy or a certain hesitancy to ask an attorney for help and guidance, in the last year our firm saw a surprising number of requests to finalize an amendment recording when we had not been involved in the underlying discussion regarding whether or not an amendment should be pursued in the first place or the actual amendment language itself.  This is concerning for several reasons.  First, without being involved in … Continue reading

Order Extend Protections for Tenants; Reaffirms Requirements for Landlords

In late December 2020, both President Trump and North Carolina Governor Cooper extended existing Orders providing protections to individuals at risk of eviction through January 31, 2021. As a result, eviction of some residential tenants for nonpayment of rent may continue to be halted during this time period. However, protection from eviction is not automatic and relates only to situations involving nonpayment of rent. In order to receive relief from eviction, a tenant at risk for eviction for failure to pay rent must submit a Declaration under penalty of perjury that the tenant meets certain requirements. The Declaration must state … Continue reading

New NC Executive Order Extends Ability to Hold Electronic Membership Meetings

As one of the last Executive Orders issued in 2020, Governor Cooper has extended the ability of North Carolina associations (including HOAs and condos) to hold virtual membership meetings. How Did We Get Here? Current COVID restrictions limit NC indoor meetings to 10 and outdoor meetings to 25 “at the same time in a single confined indoor or outdoor space.” These limits must be considered when planning any in-person association membership or board meeting. Prior to the pandemic, associations boards could meet virtually, but not association membership meetings. However, on April 24, 2020, the Governor issued Executive Order #136, which … Continue reading

The Expiring Family First Coronavirus Response Act

One of the many unanticipated issues employers have been required to familiarize themselves with and address throughout the pandemic is the quickly passed Family First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA” or the “Act”). In particular, the Act requires most employers (i.e., those with fewer than 500 employees and even those not otherwise subject to the Family Medical Leave Act) to provide paid leave to employees for specific work absences related to COVID-19 and to provide notice to their employees of their rights under the Act. By its terms, the Act is set to expire December 31, 2020. With the new stimulus … Continue reading

The Cloudy Future: What New Statutory Trends Concerning Marijuana Means for Associations

In a historic first, the United States House of Representatives voted on legislation this year that, if passed by the Senate, would de-schedule marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act. The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act was originally introduced by House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler last fall and passed the Committee by a vote of 24-10 in November. On December 4, 2020, the House passed the MORE Act—the bill passed by a vote of 228 to 164.If enacted into law, the MORE ACT would decriminalize marijuana use at the federal level, expunge federal marijuana convictions and arrests, and, most importantly for … Continue reading

National HOA/Condo Law Seminar to Be Virtual in 2021!

As a past President of the College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL), I try each year to provide details on CAI’s Community Association Law Seminar. The Law Seminar is the premiere HOA and condo legal program held each year. This year’s Law Seminar is the 42nd annual and will be held January 25-29, 2021 through an online format. Like so many things these days, the Law Seminar will be different due to the pandemic. But in some ways the virtual format will be more convenient and flexible. The program will be held several hours each day (rather than three very … Continue reading

Coronavirus (COVID-19) HOA & Condo Blog Articles

Since February of this year, we have posted a number of articles on how community associations should respond to the coronavirus crisis as well as changes in HOA/condo practices that may need to be considered. For ease of finding, these articles are linked below: The Coronavirus, Flu, and HOA/Condo Association Meetings – 2/26/20 Coronavirus: What Should Homeowner and Condominium Associations Do? – 3/1/2020 “Let’s Have Our Meeting or Convention Online!” – 3/14/2020 How to Hold Your North Carolina HOA/Condo Hearing in a Pandemic – 3/24/2020 Should My Community Close Its Common Areas Due to COVID-19? – 3/25/2020 What to Do … Continue reading

HOA & Condo Holiday and Seasonal Decorations: How to Regulate Without Being a Scrooge!

It is that time of year again. The time when families (especially this year) need a little festive spirit in their lives. As such, many homeowners begin to decorate their homes for the holidays. These decorations can range from a wreath on the door to a Griswold style light show with a ten foot tall inflatable Santa in the front yard. Yikes! Needless to say our firm gets many questions about regulation of holiday and seasonal decorations, especially during the fall and winter months. Can the Association Regulate Exterior Holiday and Seasonal Decorations? As with most homeowner and condominium association questions, the … Continue reading

COVID-19 Update: Indoor Gathering Limit Reduced

Governor Roy Cooper announced earlier today (November 10, 2020) that Phase 3 coronavirus restrictions will remain in place for the time being. However, due to an increase in the number of coronavirus cases and the upcoming holidays, the attendance cap on indoor gatherings is being lowered. As a result, the new restrictions will limit indoor meeting attendance to 10 (reduced from 25) “at the same time in a single confined indoor or outdoor space, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, or meeting hall.” Such requirements should be taken into account when planning any association in-person membership or board meeting. The … Continue reading

Lessons Learned from Large Virtual Conventions, Representative Assemblies, and House of Delegate Meetings

During the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual meetings such as Zoom and GoToMeetings have been invaluable for allowing people to interact face-to-face online. However, as helpful as virtual meetings can be for smaller groups, large gatherings of hundreds or more pose different problems. That’s particularly the case for very large conventions, representative assemblies, houses of delegates, and governing councils. Such meetings are more complicated when held online because of the number of delegates and usual types of business (credentials, rules, bylaws amendments, large budgets, legislative programs, resolutions, numerous new business items). In addition, such meetings typically see more motions (amend, refer, close … Continue reading

New NC Executive Order Extends Virtual Membership Meetings Through December 29

Membership meetings of North Carolina nonprofit corporations, including homeowner and condominium associations, can continue to be held virtually/electronically for at least the next 60 days. Since September 1, North Carolina’s Phase 2.5 (now 3.0) restrictions have limited indoor meeting attendance to 25 and outdoor attendance to 50 “at the same time in a single confined indoor or outdoor space, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, or meeting hall.” Such requirements should be taken into account when planning any association in-person membership or board meeting. Executive Order #136 issued by the Governor on April 24, 2020, allowed for nonprofit membership meetings … Continue reading

Executive Order Imposes New Requirements for Landlords

Governor Cooper signed Executive Order No. 171, which relates directly to residential evictions in North Carolina and attempts to provide some clarity of the CDC Agency Order issued earlier this fall. This Executive Order is effective October 30, 2020 at 5p.m. through December 31, 2020. The CDC Agency Order provides for protection from eviction for nonpayment of rent for certain residential tenants. In order to receive protection, the tenant must submit a Declaration under penalty of perjury that the tenant meets certain requirements. See CDC Moratorium on Evictions for a previous blog post containing more information about the CDC Agency … Continue reading