HOA, Condo, Co-op Legislative Highlights (October 2017)

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
District of Columbia

Effective April 2017, the Condominium Owner Bill of Rights and Responsibilities Amendment Act of 2016 provides some consumer-friendly provisions.

First, the Act requires condominium associations to provide written notice to an owner who becomes delinquent on assessments. The notice must include a breakdown of all charges, and inform the owner about his or her options to access low-cost or free assistance from the DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and U.S. Housing and Urban Development.

In addition, a condo developer must now provide buyers with a pre-sale copy of governing documents and a statement of condominium owner rights and responsibilities.

The Act also creates a Condominium Association Advisory Council (CAAC) of 14 members, including 10 condo community representatives (preference for current or past board memberships), and 4 industry or agency representatives. Members shall be appointed by the Mayor, DC Council, or DHCD, and serve for 3-year terms. The CAAC will conduct public meetings at least 4 times per year, and serve in an advisory capacity to the Mayor on matters related to condo association issues.

For further details, see:

District of Columbia Condominium Law Amended To Require New Owner Notices (Thomas Schild Law Group)

http://marylandcondominiumlaw.net/2017/06/16/district-of-columbia-condominium-law-amended-to-require-new-owner-notices/

Read full text of  D.C. Law 21-241

 

California

CA SB 721, a bill that calls for regular structural and safety inspections of decks and balconies in common interest communities, failed to proceed through the Legislature, when it ran into opposition from Community Associations Institute (CAI). Despite the obvious need for deck inspections following several catastrophic balcony failures which resulted in the death of several college students, the trade group objected to the cost of additional inspections. However, housing advocates intend to reintroduce the bill next legislative session.

For more details, see:

Association boards should not wait for legislation before inspecting and repairing deteriorating balconies (Donie Vanitzian, L.A. Times)

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-associations-decks-20170930-story.html

 

AB 1412 was recently enacted that extends protections from personal liability to board members serving mixed use community associations. Previously, California law offered liability protections for board members of residential associations only. Mixed use associations include units for commercial and office use, as well as residential. The new law offers personal liability protections owners or tenants of non-residential units that serve on the board.

In other words, owners of for-profit businesses who lease or own property in the association, and who might have the potential for personal conflict of interest, are not only permitted to serve on the board, but also enjoy additional protections from liability for their decisions.

What could go wrong?

Note that the California State Chapter of CAI wrote and lobbied for passage of this bill.

Further details:

Governor Brown Signs CLAC-sponsored Assembly Bill 1412

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2017/09/prweb14750590.htm

Read AB 1412, as approved by the Governor:

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180AB1412

 

 

Nevada

Several new laws affect owners and residents of association-governed communities in Nevada, but two deserve special mention.

Nevada’s Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (read SCRA, SB 33 here ) provides additional protections from foreclosure for military members while on active duty.

SB 239 allows a condominium association board or manager to enter a unit owner’s property under certain conditions, to respond to a water leak caused by failure of plumbing or sewer lines. Condo owners should read the full text of SB 239 to understand their rights and the specific conditions under which the Association may enter a private unit when the owner is not present.

 

Pennsylvania

Although not specific to construction of association-governed communities, the political controversy over who should inspect new construction in the Commonwealth has riled up several state Representatives and municipal officials.

Two bills – HB 1469 and SB 663 – would require each local government to provider builders and homeowners with “mulitple” choices of building inspectors. Some small townships hire a single building inspector, and others share one inspector with neighboring towns.

Some homeowners and builders have complained that the building inspector has a monopoly, and overcharges for inspection services.

However, local officials oppose both bills, claiming that allowing a builder to hire a third-party inspector of his choice could lead to “collusion.”

Opposition to construction code bills strong in Bucks County

By Chris Ullery

Posted Oct 9, 2017 at 12:01 AM
Updated Oct 9, 2017 at 5:30 AM
Sponsors of two state bills say they want to break up building inspector monopolies, but several towns and one county organization say the laws would make more trouble than they would fix.

Since July, several towns in Bucks County have passed resolutions endorsed by the Bucks County Association of Township Officials opposing House Bill 1469 and Senate Bill 663, saying the bills would encourage “collusion” between builders and inspectors.

The bills seek to amend Pennsylvania’s Uniform Construction Code by requiring any town hiring a third-party building inspector to offer multiple inspectors that builders and homeowners can choose from.

About 90 percent of towns that follow the current code either hire their own inspectors, share an inspector among several towns or hire a third-party company. Many of Bucks County’s 54 municipalities hire a third-party inspector.

Read more:

http://www.buckscountycouriertimes.com/news/local/opposition-to-construction-code-bills-strong-in-bucks-county/article_db3a0be5-9940-5a47-9b99-b4434bc747c5.html

 

South Carolina

Tom Davis is a state Senator who has blocked House Bill 3886, also known as the South Carolina Homeowners Association Act. Davis approves of increased disclosure requirements and allowing Magistrates to settle HOA disputes involving small issues and damages. However, he is dead set against creating a state agency with an Ombudsman.

In the following Editorial, Davis reveals he has been a real estate attorney for more than 30 years, and that he consulted with “community associations” in his district, before making the decision to kill the bill for this session.

Several other states have an Ombudsman that is supposed to assist owners and residents of association-governed communities. These regulatory agencies have garnered mixed reviews, but many critics complain that the Ombudsman lacks sufficient authority to investigate potential misconduct or enforce state law.

It is easy to see why Ombudsman officers and similar state regulatory agencies are nothing more than impotent window dressing.

After all, members of the real estate industry are deeply embedded into state Legislatures, where they can use their political power to block any meaningful regulation and kill or amend proposed legislation intended to help housing consumers.

 

Creating a state homeowners association czar is a bad idea

BY TOM DAVIS
Special to The Island Packet

OCTOBER 18, 2017 11:53 AM

Last May, as the 2017 legislative session in Columbia drew to a close, a bill that had been passed by the House, designated H. 3886 and titled the South Carolina Homeowners Association Act, was put on the Senate calendar for consideration.

After reviewing the bill and discussing it with several managers for community associations in my senate district, I exercised my right to block the bill, thus carrying it over until the 2018 session. Since the session will reconvene in January, I want to explain my objections, both to inform my constituents and to encourage the bill’s proponents to accept my amendments.

Read more here:

http://www.islandpacket.com/opinion/op-ed/article179489866.html

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