Huge Jump in Condominium Insurance Premiums

Here’s an interesting (and frightening) insurance article from The Wall Street Journal. The report seems available on the subscribers’ only site as well as generally online, so here’s a link that should work: Big Jump in Insurance Costs Strikes Condos. One association’s insurance renewal went up four times with 12 carriers refusing to even quote a policy, likely due to the many recent natural disasters and higher rebuilding costs. Industry statistics show average condo insurance increases of 20% with some being 300% to 1,000%. And such increases come on the heals of some states requiring greater expenditures by condominiums as … Continue reading

Feeding Wild and Feral Animals in HOAs

As development continues to crowd out open space previously occupied by wild animals, North Carolina community associations find themselves increasingly close neighbors with deer, racoons, foxes, and other “wild” animals.  These animals come into yards and happily munch on gardens, landscaping and occasionally someone’s beloved cat or dog. Combine development issues, poor control of domestic animal breeding, and owners with sympathies for hungry and thirsty animals, and you are left with an association caught between reasonable controls on animals and those who want to help them. We are often asked what associations can (and should) do to regulate wild animals … Continue reading

SC Community Association Legislative Update – June 17, 2024

With the second regular session of the 125th South Carolina General Assembly now adjourned, it is time to look at where things are now that the session has ended. Over this most recent legislative session, South Carolina saw a number of bills potentially affecting homeowners associations and condominiums filed. Two were signed into law.  Several more gained the attention of legislators, and one was passed by the House but died in the Senate.  Many of these bills, had they been enacted, would have been detrimental to condominiums and homeowners associations.  With the session now over, it is time to see … Continue reading

Keeping Your Community Association Solvent in A High Inflation Economy

If you are like me, you are becoming acutely aware of rising costs in our current economic environment. While inflation appears to be cooling off a bit, it certainly is not coming down at the rate necessary for most Americans to see much of a difference. In a post COVID world, we have seen prices of food, goods, and labor soar. And while we are all hopeful for some relief from rising costs in the near future, we must prepare as best we can to live and operate in a high inflation economy. Homeowners and condominium associations are certainly not … Continue reading

CAI’s Common Ground Article on Jim Slaughter

The most recent Common Ground from the Community Associations Institute includes an interview with Law Firm Carolinas’ partner Jim Slaughter following his Don Buck Award recognition. The article includes Jim’s thoughts on proposed HOA/condo legislation, what Board members and owners often forget about community associations, and the need for Board members and homeowners who appreciate their associations to better communicate that message.  The one-page article can be found at https://lsc-pagepro.mydigitalpublication.com/publication/?m=20613&i=819074&p=62&ver=html5.

NC House Select Committee on HOAs Files New Bill

As the short session continues and the legislature continues to negotiate House Bill 542 with interested parties, a new bill was introduced on May 1, 2024 by Representatives Frank Iler, Steve Tyson and Ya Liu. House Bill 959, entitled an AN ACT TO MAKE VARIOUS CHANGES TO THE NORTH CAROLINA CONDOMINIUM ACT AND THE NORTH CAROLINA PLANNED COMMUNITY ACT, TO MANDATE PRELITIGATION MEDIATION OF DISPUTES BETWEEN OWNERS’ ASSOCIATIONS AND THEIR MEMBERS, AND TO REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE TO COLLECT AND REPORT ON COMPLAINTS SUBMITTED TO IT INVOLVING SUCH DISPUTES, AS RECOMMENDED BY THE HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE ON HOMEOWNERS’ ASSOCIATIONS, … Continue reading

Carole Albright Recognized as Leader in the Law

Carole Albright, Managing Partner of Law Firm Carolinas, has been recognized by NC Lawyers Weekly as a 2024 Leaders in the Law Honoree. The award recognizes legal professionals who have gone above and beyond in their profession through contributions to the practice of law as well as service to the broader community. Carole is a Board Certified Specialist in Family Law as well as a Certified Parenting Counselor and is past Chair of the Family Law Section of the Greensboro Bar Association. She co-chaired and helped organize and lead the Course Planning Committee of the NC Family Law Specialists for … Continue reading

SC Foreclosure Bill Passed House, Now in Senate—Potential Impacts on Your HOA

As recently reported in previous articles, the South Carolina Legislature is considering a bill that impacts the ability of community associations to collect assessments from non-paying members of their communities.  As originally drafted, the bill would have eliminated a community association’s ability to foreclose.  However, the Community Associations Institute (CAI) and its South Carolina Legislative Action Committee (SC-LAC) worked closely with members of the SC House of Representatives to propose an alternative approach to the original bill.  As a result, the proposed new law would require an additional hearing in the foreclosure process to ensure that homeowners are given ample … Continue reading

Department of Labor Issues Final Rule for Exemptions to Overtime

The Department of Labor (the “DOL”) has issued a final rule regarding overtime exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (commonly referred to as the “FLSA”), which rule should be noted by employers and employees alike. The FLSA, which applies to most employers throughout the country and, indirectly, their employees, controls the classes or categories of employees that are exempt from overtime pay and what additional factors must be met before employers can avoid overtime payments.  Today’s issuance of the new rule follows years of debate, announced rules, and litigation that saw the proverbial pendulum swing, at various times, from … Continue reading

FTC Votes to bar Most Noncompetition Agreements, But Don’t Throw Out Your Noncompete Yet!

The Federal Trade Commission (often referred to as the “FTC”) voted today to bar non-competition agreements or “noncompetes,” both retroactively (for all but top corporate officials and senior executives holding a policy-making position and making not less than $151,164 annually) and in the future. More specifically, employers would be prohibited from: entering into or attempting to enter into non-competition agreements with employees, workers and independent contractors; maintaining a non-competition agreement with workers, employees or independent contractors; or representing to a worker, contractor or employee that he is subject to a non-compete.  Those employers with existing non-compete agreements in place for … Continue reading

Spring Has Sprung! Is Your Community Association Ready?

Spring has sprung! Which means that community associations through North and South Carolina will begin seeing increased community traffic, amenity use (including use of playgrounds, pools, tennis and pickleball courts), and increased social events. So, is your community ready. Communities should consider the following: It is important to be ready for increased community use that the warmer weather will bring. Our North and South Carolina community association attorneys are happy to assist your community as spring rolls into the Carolinas.

Like to Use Emojis With Your Professional Contacts? Enjoy Your Lawsuit.

The use of emojis has become a daily form of communication without getting into a long telephone or text conversation.  It conveys, or attempts to convey, information to an intended recipient certain actions, feelings, thoughts or intended actions of the sender towards someone or something.  It can apply in private conversations or in mass communications such as social media platforms. What happens when the recipient of an emoji takes the meaning to be vastly different than the intention of the sender?  The ramifications of such a miscommunication can result in costly lawsuits and thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees as … Continue reading

Reasons Realtors Need an Experienced Real Estate Attorney

Home sales almost always include purchase contracts with negotiated terms, legal jargon, and intricate procedures which are not always familiar to any particular buyer, seller, or realtor. From negotiating its terms to signing the contract which obligates the involved parties as to certain legal responsibilities, all parties involved deserve to understand the process. This understanding paves the way for a smooth transaction from the initial agreement to the final recording of the deed and funding. An experienced Law Firm Carolinas real estate attorney can assist in a variety of ways. Even though some or all of the parties might be … Continue reading

Federal Gift and Estate Tax Planning- Part 7 of 7: Advanced Planning with Charitable Trusts

Using a Charitable Remainder Interest Annuity or Unitrust (CRATs/CRUTs) and Charitable Lead Trusts (CLTs) Charitable Remainder Interest Annuity and Unitrust as well as Charitable Lead Trusts are vehicles for the charitably inclined that can provide significant income and estate tax benefits. Both charitable remainder trusts and charitable lead trusts are split interest trust where an annuity interest and a remainder interest are split among the grantor of the trust or other non-charitable beneficiaries and a qualified charity.  CRATs and CRUTs Charitable Remainder Interest Annuity Trusts (CRATs) and Charitable Remainder Interest Unitrust (CRUTs) are the two types of charitable remainder trusts. … Continue reading

Federal Gift and Estate Tax Planning- Part 6 of 7: Advanced Planning with QPRTs

A Qualified Personal Residence Trust aka “QPRT” can be an effective gift and estate tax planning tool, especially in cases where an individual has a large amount of wealth of which a primary residence and secondary home make up a significant percentage. IRC Section 25.2702-5 governs the use of QPRTs. What property can be transferred to a QPRT? The IRS allows an individual to transfer no more than two residences (i.e. noncommercial property), including appurtenant structures and adjacent land for residential purposes (primary residence or secondary home) or interest therein to a QPRT. How is a QPRT structured? A QPRT … Continue reading

SC Legislative Update—Proposed Changes to H 3180 Could Impact HOAs

As recently mentioned here on March 28, 2024, the South Carolina Legislature is currently considering a bill that impacts the ability of community associations to collect assessments from non-paying members of their communities.  As originally drafted, House Bill 3180 would have eliminated any HOA’s ability to foreclose its lien when someone didn’t pay their assessments.  The Community Associations Institute (CAI) and its South Carolina Legislative Action Committee (SC-LAC) have worked closely with other members of the House, including Representative Weston Newton, to propose alterative solutions to the proposed bill. Through that collaboration, an amended version of the bill was proposed … Continue reading

Federal Gift and Estate Tax Planning- Part 5 of 7: Advanced Planning with IDGTs

Freezing and Reducing your Taxable Estate with Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts (IDGTs) Likely the most effective and popular advanced planning techniques are the use of a Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (“GRAT”) or an Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust (“IDGT”). The general idea of both techniques is to transfer assets expected to appreciate in an amount that exceeds the current month’s Applicable Federal Rate or Section 7520 (120% of the AFR) rate and pass the excess growth to non-charitable beneficiaries, all while using little or none of the individual’s basic exclusion.   In this part, I will discuss IDGTs. An Intentionally Defective Grantor … Continue reading

Who Was Robert and Why Do his Rules Rule?

Originally appeared as Who Was Robert and Why Do his Rules Rule? from the May 23, 2023 Presbyterian Outlook. As an attorney and professional parliamentarian, I’m sometimes asked, “Who was Robert and why do his rules rule?” It’s a timely question. Henry Martyn Robert, the original author of Robert’ Rule of Order, died 100 years ago on May 11, 1923. Since that time, versions of his parliamentary manual have come to dominate meetings. While other parliamentary manuals are available, Robert’s Rules of Order is the 800-pound gorilla of the parliamentary world. It is the most popular and easiest-to-locate book on meeting procedure. Most … Continue reading

Federal Gift and Estate Tax Planning- Part 4 of 7: Advanced Planning with GRATs

Freezing and Reducing your Taxable Estate with Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs) Likely the most effective and popular advanced planning techniques are the use of a Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (“GRAT”) or an Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust (“IDGT”).  The general idea of both techniques is to transfer assets expected to appreciate in an amount that exceeds the current month’s Applicable Federal Rate or Section 7520 (120% of the AFR) rate and pass the excess growth to non-charitable beneficiaries, all while using little or none of the individual’s basic exclusion. In this part, I will discuss GRATs, which are likely the … Continue reading