Our firm has one of the largest community association legal practices in the Carolinas and regularly assists associations and their owners on a wide rage of legal issues, including:
|governing document amendments|
|covenant and restriction violations|
|collection of dues and assessments|
|board & annual meeting controversies|
|resolving neighborhood disputes.|
Law Firm Carolinas is the first and only North Carolina law firm recognized by Best Lawyers in the category of “Community Association Law.” The firm's attorneys frequently speak to community association audiences and have authored numerous HOA and condo articles. Partner Jim Slaughter was the first North Carolina attorney inducted as a Fellow into CAI’s College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL) and served as CCAL’s 2014 national President. He has also served on the NC Bar Association’s Community Associations Committee since its creation and was 2016 President of the NC Chapter of the Community Associations Institute. Partner Steve Black is a Board Certified Specialist in Residential Real Estate, recognizing his work with real estate and community associations. Partners Steve Black and Harmony Taylor have both served on CAI's Legislative Action Committee (LAC) that monitors community association legislation.
North Carolina law requires that HOA and condo meetings be conducted in accordance with Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (11th Edition). Partner Jim Slaughter has written two books on association meeting procedure, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Parliamentary Procedure Fast-Track and Notes and Comments on Robert’s Rules, Fourth Edition.
Many specific HOA/condo resources can be found at www.lawfirmcarolinas.com/hoa_resources.cfm and meeting procedure/voting resources at www.jimslaughter.com. The firm's HOA/condo blog discusses timely association issues and can be found at www.lawfirmcarolinas.com/blog/category/homeowner-condo-association.
Association assessment collections are handled through our Automated Assessment Collection System, a proprietary process which is password protected and available 24/7. Association managers can log-in to view current collection efforts, with details that are updated daily. Our firm handouts have more details.
Law Firm Carolinas also partners with community association management companies by providing board member or community manager training on numerous topics. For management companies we regularly work with, we hold scheduled "Office Hours" where we come to the management company for about an hour to talk about timely issues and answer any questions.
Covenant and Restriction Violations
Owners in associations must obey certain documents, which can include the Declaration (sometimes called the “Restrictions” or the “Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions”), the bylaws, and any association rules and regulations. State law and the governing documents provide means for enforcing these provisions. In the event of a violation, our attorneys can advise on whether a rule is legally enforceable, steps necessary for a proper hearing, notice required to the homeowner, penalties that can be imposed, and legal remedies to enforce the covenants.
Collection of Assessments/Dues
Dues are the lifeblood of an association. Community associations are not designed to make money; they are designed to pay the bills. Associations basically act as escrow agents for collections by other entities—water, waste collection, electricity, landscaping. Funds collected are not kept by the association, but are forwarded to other parties, including the government. Unless associations can collect owed assessments, the association will owe debts but not have funds to cover them. Shortfalls can only be made up by not paying necessary obligations, charging paying homeowners higher amounts, or allowing the community’s common elements to deteriorate. As a result, associations must be vigilant about collecting association dues (also called "assessments").
Law Firm Carolinas can advise on collections strategies, including what is and is not permitted by state and federal law. If more aggressive action is needed, we will take all steps permitted to collect past-due assessments, fines, and other charges, including sending a demand letter to the owner, filing a claim of lien, commencing foreclosure proceedings, and, if necessary, conducting a foreclosure sale. While such steps may seem harsh, the prompt collection of assessments is necessary in order for associations to pay their obligations and avoid increasing assessments for members.
Board and Annual Meeting Controversies
HOAs and condos have all sorts of meetings—board meetings, membership meetings, committee meetings, and architectural review committee meetings. Board and membership meetings can be subject to numerous statutes as well as Robert’s Rules of Order. Attorney Jim Slaughter has written two books on association meeting procedure, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Parliamentary Procedure Fast-Track and Notes and Comments on Robert’s Rules, Fourth Edition. Black, Slaughter & Black attorneys can advise on all aspects of running effective, legal meetings, including the required meeting notice, proxies, motions and resolutions, quorum, the required vote for different issues, and drafting necessary documents for filing.
N.C. Planned Community Act and Condominium Act Compliance
Most North Carolina homeowner associations created on or after January 1, 1999 must follow the N.C. Planned Community Act. Most North Carolina condominiums created on or after October 1, 1986 must follow the N.C. Condominium Act. Even older associations must generally follow certain provisions of the Acts, such as those governing collection of assessments, fining owners for violations, and running meetings. Our firm's attorneys can advise on which statutes apply to your association, interpret the statutes with regards to your specific situation, and point out how recent court cases may impact the statutes. In addition, our attorneys can perform a governing document “audit” for compliance with the Acts and identify provisions of the governing documents that are out of compliance (and unenforceable or should be amended).
Mediation and Arbitration
North Carolina statutes require that every association notify owners on their website or each year of the right to request voluntary mediation for certain disputes. Partner Jim Slaughter has been a Certified Superior Court Mediator for over twenty years and mediated many cases to a successful resolution. Here's a review from Lawyers.com:
Jim served as a mediator in a highly contentious suit between homeowners and their HOA. The suit contained decades-old disputes and allegations. Jim was a superb mediator who genuinely cared about the outcome of this case. To say he was invested in helping the parties reach a compromise would be an understatement. I would recommend Jim as a mediator in the highest regard.
Arbitration is also available for a faster and less expensive process for resolving disputes.
Resolving Neighborhood Disputes
Having represented so many associations, our attorneys can assist with both the legal and political aspects of association disputes, including common issues such as developer or transition problems, pet and animal issues, rental caps or short term rental/airBNB/VRBO issues, zoning or easement disputes, problem owner or board member issues, or a wide variety of other issues associations face.