Freddie Mac Announced Increased Transparency for Condo Projects

Freddie Mac announced yesterday, December 6, 2023, that it would be implementing steps to increase transparency in condominium project certification and eligibility for loans. See the link to Freddie Mac’s announcement. Up to now, industry leaders have voiced concerns about the secretive nature of Freddie Mac’s determination of a condominium’s eligibility status—contending that its unavailable list of condominiums amounted to a secret blacklist. For prospective home buyers wanting to buy in a condominium, this has meant that there was less access to mortgages, sometimes causing serious problems because existing condominium owners, boards of directors, and community managers didn’t know that … Continue reading

Support Your South Carolina Community Associations Institute (CAI) Legislative Action Committee

I am sometimes asked about the South Carolina chapter of the Community Associations Institute (CAI) and the Legislative Action Committee.  First, to make it easier, we usually refer to it as the “SC-LAC.”  The SC-LAC is a diverse group of homeowner leaders, community managers, and business partners who work hard to protect and advance association communities and their interests at the state legislative level in Columbia. Each legislative session there are bills proposed that impact the functioning, operation, and well-being of community associations and their business partners.  In the most recent legislative session, the SC-LAC provided testimony at hearings related … Continue reading

New South Carolina Law Allows Virtual Meetings for HOAs and Condos

In a follow up to a recent article, House Bill 4049 has now passed both the SC House and the Senate and was signed into law on Friday, May 19, 2023, by the governor. In short, the new law will open the door for most homeowners associations and condominiums in South Carolina to allow remote member participation and to conduct virtual membership meetings. This bill will also allow those with health concerns to more easily participate in their association’s meetings.  The decision whether to do so, and what conditions may apply for doing so, would be within the discretion of … Continue reading

SC Community Association Legislative Update – May 8, 2023

With the winding up of the SC Legislative session fast approaching, the deadline for bills to be introduced has now passed, and it is time to look at where things are now that the dust has settled. South Carolina saw several proposed bills potentially affecting homeowners associations and condominiums filed. As of this writing, one of those bills is on its way to likely becoming law, while a couple of others have at least garnered the attention of many legislators. With the crossover deadline behind us, now is a good time to see which bills are still active that could … Continue reading

Condo Charged with Discrimination for Delay in Approving Assistance Animal

In a recent case out of Pennsylvania, a condominium association was found to have violated Fair Housing laws for its delay in approving requests for reasonable accommodation for an emotional support animal belonging to a resident and for imposing conditions on the animals’ use of the common area.  The Dorchester Owners’ Association in Philadelphia is a condominium with a rule against keeping pets.  Two different owners requested an exemption from the rule based on their disabilities. One, Louise  Hamburg, obtained a letter from a clinical psychotherapist that said she was treating Ms. Hamburg. It was later discovered that the statements in the … Continue reading

New South Carolina Bill Would Allow Virtual Membership Meetings for HOAs

House Bill 4049, which was initially introduced in February, was approved by the SC House yesterday (April 18, 2023) and has now crossed over to the SC Senate for consideration. The bill would allow for remote participation at homeowners association membership meetings. Up until now, unless the governing documents for a homeowners association or condominium specifically allowed remote participation at a membership meeting, there was no specific statute in South Carolina authorizing membership meetings to be held virtually.  One of the positives of the COVID pandemic was that many more people became comfortable with video conferencing and other similar means … Continue reading

Homeowners Association Not Responsible for Owner’s Out of Pocket Expenses

In a recent decision by the North Carolina Court of Appeals, the Court held that a condominium association was not responsible for out of pocket expenses incurred by an owner when she was forced out of her unit while repairs were made. In Gehrke v. Gates at Quail Hollow Homeowners’ Ass’n, an owner sued her condominium association for all the costs she incurred while she was forced out of her unit for repairs. To read the full case, click here.    Marguerite Gehrke was a unit owner in The Gates at Quail Hollow Homeowners’ Association, Ltd. (the “Association”), in Charlotte, North … Continue reading

What is the Statute of Limitations and Statute of Repose for NC / SC HOAs?

Homeowners associations and condominiums frequently hire contractors to perform work within their communities. Although some work is obviously poor, it is not always apparent that a contractor’s work was defective. Where defective work is not discovered until some time later, most boards of directors want to know whether the time has passed for the association to bring suit against the contractor.  When we talk about time limitations to bring suit, there are two types of statutes involved. The first is called the statute of limitations—this is the one most people are familiar with.  Generally speaking, the statute of limitations is the time … Continue reading

New Announcement by HUD Means More Options for Flood Insurance

All community association boards want to be good stewards of the funds collected from their homeowners.  Sometimes, when finances are tight, a board has to face hard choices about how to reduce costs.  That might mean reducing services or even deferring needed maintenance for a period of time where that maintenance is not essential to safety or structural integrity.  As with all contracts, boards want to find the insurance that best suits their community and offers the best protection—at the best price.  For those townhome and condo communities located in a flood zone, the question often arises whether they must … Continue reading

Obligation to Pay HOA Dues Survives Even the Strangest Circumstances

As community association attorneys, we hear all sorts of reasons from homeowners to explain why they haven’t paid their assessments.  These usually include legitimate explanations such as illnesses like COVID, job loss, or other hardships.  Some homeowners are more creative.  One owner recently told our office that the presence of “entities” in the home was a reason for non-payment.  In a recent case out of Kentucky, William and Theresa Thompson told their homeowners association they shouldn’t have to pay assessments on two lots they owned because the lots weren’t there anymore.  Although existing as two separate lots, they were treated … Continue reading

South Carolina Supreme Court Finds Mandatory Arbitration Provision Unconscionable

In a recent South Carolina Supreme Court decision, the Court struck a mandatory arbitration clause from purchaser contracts with a home builder because the terms were considered to be unconscionable.  In Damico v. Lennar Carolinas, a group of home buyers in the Spring Grove Plantation community sued Lennar Carolinas for construction defect claims.  As one of its primary defenses, Lennar Carolinas pointed to the arbitration clause included in the contracts that each homeowner had signed.  These clauses required cases to be arbitrated and waived other protections normally available to a home buyer, such as trial by jury.  The Court determined … Continue reading

Update—Delinquent Homeowners May Have Access to Funds to Pay HOA and Condo Liens

As I wrote a few months ago, South Carolina homeowners have access to federal funds that have been allocated to assist homeowners in financial distress as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  It has now been confirmed that the program will include paying debts associated with HOA or condominium assessments, late fees, interest, liens, and foreclosure-related costs.  As anticipated, the State of South Carolina has been awarded $144,650,807.00 by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF), which was established under Section 3206 of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.   What does that mean for an HOA … Continue reading

Federal Legislation Introduced to Address Financing Condo Safety Repairs

On April 18, 2022, Representatives Charlie Crist and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (both U.S. Representatives from Florida) introduced the Securing Access to Finance Exterior Repairs (“SAFER) in Condos Act of 2022.  The bill is designed to address one of the main problems identified following the partial collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, last year.  Although many condominiums may need significant structural repairs, a recurring problem has always been the ability to obtain financing to pay for the costs of those repairs.  Following the collapse, many condominium associations have begun to evaluate their own buildings in earnest and investigate their … Continue reading

South Carolina Launches New SC Homeowner Rescue Program (SC HRP)

As my colleague, Jim Slaughter, reported last month, the new federal Homeowner Assistance Fund established a program with nearly $10 billion for states to provide relief to those suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. For South Carolina homeowners who have become delinquent in their HOA or condo assessments during the pandemic, this program may offer assistance. In general terms, the SC Homeowner Rescue Program (SC HRP) accepts applications from South Carolina homeowners who were impacted by the pandemic and need assistance with housing-related expenses. Funds may be available on a first-come, first-served basis. There are income requirements, as well as … Continue reading

What Does The Champlain Tower Collapse Mean For NC / SC Condos?

With the collapse of the Champlain Tower South (a part of a condominium located in Surfside, Florida) in June of last year, there has been a search for answers.  Condominium owners want to know whether their building is safe, and boards of directors want to make sure they are taking appropriate steps to prevent another disaster similar to the one in Florida. Although the ultimate reasons for the collapse may not be known for years, it is likely that some problems that may have contributed to the collapse are not unique. The Community Associations Institute (CAI) has published recommendations relevant to … Continue reading

Throwing Shade—North Carolina / South Carolina Homeowner Right to Sunlight

Once upon a time there was a homeowner with a mountain cottage with a great view.  The homeowner lived for years on this quiet property with a fantastic view of the surrounding mountains.  Suddenly, a neighbor showed up and began building next door.  As part of construction, it became obvious that part of the new neighbor’s home would block the view of the first homeowner.  Although the first homeowner may not be happy about it, without some sort of guarantee that his view will remain unchanged, the first homeowner probably has no way to prevent the construction.  To avoid this … Continue reading

New NC Appellate Case: Belmont Association, Inc. v. Farwig (Solar Panels/ARC)

Today, Tuesday, May 18, 2021, the NC Court of Appeals issued its decision in Belmont Association, Inc. v. Farwig (the first appellate review of North Carolina’s solar law!). The decision may impact the installation of solar panels in planned communities, and is a “published” decision. That means the decision is controlling legal authority and can be cited in other cases. When N.C. Gen. Stat. § 22B-20 (“Deed Restrictions and Other Agreements Prohibiting Solar Collectors”) became law in North Carolina in 2007, it changed the way homeowners associations handle architectural requests. Prior to this statute, an HOA could simply follow the … Continue reading

New South Carolina Law Creates COVID Immunity for Many HOAs and Condos

On April 28, 2021 the South Carolina Governor signed into law a bill that creates some protection for many homeowners associations and condominium associations from potential coronavirus claims.  The bill (S147) creates broad immunity for health care facilities, government agencies, and legal entities, whether they are regular business entities or nonprofits, regardless of how they are organized (so nonprofit corporations, LLCs, etc.).  These are what the new law calls the “covered entities.”  The law also specifically creates protections for any director, officer, employee, agent, contractor, third‑party worker, or other representative of one of the covered entities.  These are considered to … Continue reading

Whether to Hold In-Person HOA or Condo Meetings in South Carolina

While prior Executive Orders contained clear requirements about how to address COVID-19, the most recent South Carolina Executive Orders leave much to the imagination.  For those familiar with South Carolina and its approach to legal issues, this might not be surprising. In South Carolina, the basic difference for gatherings currently is that, unlike prior Executive Orders that required face coverings and strictly limited gatherings in terms of number of participants, social distancing, and hygiene efforts, the current orders only encourage compliance with these guidelines.  That leaves the board of directors of any HOA / condo with the question of whether … Continue reading

To Open (or Not Open) HOA and Condo Pools in North and South Carolina

One of the most frequent questions we receive is whether it is “OK,” “allowed,” or “legal” for homeowners associations or condominiums to open their pool this spring. Every community is different and boards of directors will have to make the decision to open based on several factors, including the type of community, whether that community has the resources to comply with CDC and local guidelines, and whether it can comply with any state requirements that may apply. Each board of directors must make its decision based on its best business judgment after appropriate due diligence. Just because the state or the … Continue reading