When Is an HOA/Condo Rental Amendment Unreasonable?

When it comes to declaration amendments, our firm is most often asked about restrictions on rentals, whether complete or percentage bans, restrictions on short-term rentals, or limiting corporate rentals. (See HOA/Condo Rental Restrictions, Corporate Owners & Institutional Investors and Short-Term Rentals in North Carolina and South Carolina HOAs and Condominiums) In a decision issued this week (February 21, 2024), the North Carolina Court of Appeals struck down a condominium rental amendment as unreasonable. While not really creating any new law, associations considering a declaration amendment, particularly as to rental restrictions, should be aware of the case. Mileview LLC et al … Continue reading

The Developer is Offering the Association (a lot of) Money to Sign a Release- Should the Board of Directors Consider Signing it?

Over the last year our firm has seen an uptick in offers to associations from the developer to pay money in exchange for signing a release. The language of releases can vary but the purpose is almost always the same – The money being offered to the association is in exchange for releasing the developer and any other named parties from any and all claims, known or unknown, that the association may have.  These claims being released will almost certainly include claims for construction defects for the association’s amenities but can also include a release for claims related to the … Continue reading

Five Factors a Court Will Likely Consider to Determine Validity and Enforceability of Amendments Recorded by Developers

The 2006 Court of Appeals case of Queens Grant II Horizontal Property Regime vs. Greenwood Development Corporation (368 S.C. 342) provides guidance for validity of amendments to the Declaration/Master Deed (Declaration) recorded by Developers/Declarants (Developer). In this case the homeowner’s association sued the Developer over the validity of an amendment it recorded to the Declaration that increased assessments. The Court upheld the amendment (except for a few units that had a special arrangement that are not relevant to this blog).  The Court used the following general analysis to determine the validity of this amendment recorded by the Declarant:  Please contact … Continue reading

Association Common Area Can Be Foreclosed and Sold to a Third Party for Unpaid Property Tax

Our office has had two situations in the last six months where an association failed to pay property taxes on association common area, the tax department foreclosed, and a third-party bought the common area at the tax foreclosure sale. Fortunately in these cases it was not the association pool or clubhouse, but it could have been. For North Carolina associations – There is a statue in North Carolina that allows associations to apply for a tax exempt status for common area. Once approved the association does not owe property taxes on that common area going forward. The key is to make … Continue reading

HOA/Condo Op-Ed Article Published Today

I was asked by The Charlotte Observer and Raleigh News & Observer to respond to recent reporting looking at changing North Carolina’s HOA/condo laws. My article, “Caution: When NC HOA Laws Change, Property Values and More Are at Stake,” appears in both newspapers today. If you are a subscriber, links to both are below and the full op-ed follows. Caution: When NC HOA Laws Change, Property Values and More Are at Stake Living in a community where owners agree to abide by rules that enhance benefits for everyone requires  balancing individual rights with neighbors. Legislators have historically balanced those effectively. Substantially increasing … Continue reading

What Is a Variance?

Last year I wrote a blog discussing the role of a Board of Adjustment and the types of cases they may hear, which can be found here. One of the land use cases that the Board of Adjustment in a municipality would see regularly would be a request for a variance. Variances are covered under NCGS § 160D of the North Carolina General Statues.  Specifically: NCGS 160D-705(d) states: When unnecessary hardships would result from carrying out the strict letter of a zoning regulation, the board of adjustment shall vary any of the provisions of the zoning regulation upon a showing … Continue reading

Harmony Taylor Recognition

Law Firm Carolinas’ partner Harmony Taylor is on a roll! Harmony has been named a Fellow in CAI’s College of Community Association Lawyers. The College, which was created in 1994, recognizes excellence in the practice of community association law. Of the thousands of attorneys who work with homeowner and condominium associations in the US, there are fewer than 200 current CCAL Fellows. As a past national CCAL President, I can say without reservation that Harmony reflects the high standards of professionalism, professional involvement, and passion for community association law the CCAL designation was created to spotlight.​ Harmony has also been elected Chair of … Continue reading

Timing at Closing for Signing and Funding of Transaction

Closings in olden times (over 10 years ago and prior) was most typically that parties, buyers, sellers, agents, etc., would all attend a signing at a single scheduled date and time.  In more recent years, and in the future I suspect, the needs and requests of parties have varied quite a bit more.  Parties are remote, parties want to come to sign on separate days or times and this is most easily facilitated by Law Firm Carolinas in part or whole due to our experience in handling transactions throughout the entireties of North and South Carolina even in locations where … Continue reading

Ground Leases- A New (?) Path to Home Ownership

Within the last several months, community association attorneys in North Carolina have begun to see a new scenario with their clients: the ground lease.  Usually, when someone purchases a lot, they own the lot and any structures on that lot, such as a home, outbuildings, or landscaping installations. However, we are now seeing situations where someone purchases a lot, but only leases the home and other structures on the lot (the “Improvements”) for some long period with an option to buy at the end.  The duration of these leases is variable, but often extends to periods as long as 99 … Continue reading

Why Would You Need an Owner’s Title Insurance policy when buying a home?

And is it necessary? The home buying process can be a confusing and hectic experience, with some of the most complex decisions you might ever have to make in your lifetime. One of those decisions may be the choice of whether to purchase an owner’s title insurance policy. Click here for more information about the basics of title insurance. If you’re buying a house with a mortgage, the lender you choose will always require the purchase of a lender’s policy as a condition for the loan, but why would a homeowner also need their own policy? You might ask, if … Continue reading

Property Tax Rates in South Carolina

Congratulations, you have just purchased a home in South Carolina! While most action items related to the closing will be completed prior to and while at the closing table, there is one important step to take following your purchase. In South Carolina, whenever someone buys a piece of real estate property, it is initially assessed at a 6% ratio. However, if you will be using the property as your primary residence, then you are entitled to apply for and receive a 4% assessed ratio. In order to receive the lower assessment for the owner-occupied property, the property owner must submit … Continue reading

Who Needs to Bring an ID for a Real Estate Closing?

You would be amazed how many people come to closing without a picture ID. A notary public, often the closing attorney, is required to verify the identity of every person listed on a deed, deed of trust, mortgage, title insurance affidavit(s) and/or other document(s) requiring notarization. If you are one of these individuals, please make sure you have at least one form of photo identification with you. This can be a state-issued driver’s license or ID card or U.S. or foreign passport. Sometimes if none of these might be available, alternatives can exist but those would be on a case-by-case … Continue reading

5 Law Firm Carolinas Attorneys Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America

Five attorneys at Law Firm Carolinas have been named to the 2024 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America. Carole Albright, who is a Board Certified Specialist in Family Law, has been recognized in the practice of Family Law. Keith Black, who is a Board Certified Specialist in Family Law, has been recognized in the practices of Family Law and Family Law Mediation. Steven Black, who is a Board Certified Specialist in Residential Real Estate, has been recognized in the practice of Real Estate Law and Community Association (HOA and condo) Law. Jim Slaughter has been recognized in the practices … Continue reading

Fourth Circuit Makes Ruling on Attorneys’ Fees Amount

Under North Carolina law, parties entering into loan agreements may specify an amount for attorneys’ fees, in the event that one of the parties breaches or there is a default. The prescribed amount of attorneys’ fees may be up to 15% of the amount owed under the terms of the loan agreement. Frequently, the loan agreement is silent about the specific amount of attorney’s and the agreement simply states that the breaching party shall be responsible for “all reasonable fees and expenses.” The applicable statute defines “reasonable” as 15%. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (which … Continue reading

What Is “Spot Zoning”?

Having served as a commissioner on a local zoning board, it was often argued that a proposed site or land use was “spot zoning” and therefore should not be approved.  But what does that really mean?  First, spot zoning is not necessarily illegal in North Carolina so long as there is a reasonable basis for the zoning designation.  But what exactly is spot zoning? In Blades v. City of Raleigh, 280 N.C. 531, 187 S.E.2d 35, spot zoning is defined as follows: A zoning ordinance, or amendment, which singles out and reclassifies a relatively small tract owned by a single … Continue reading

Meister, Slaughter & Marshall Recognized

Law Firm Carolinas Partner Adam Marshall was a presenter at the Community Association Institute’s (CAI) 2023 Annual Conference in Dallas, Texas. The conference was attended by over 2,600 community managers, homeowner board members, leaders and business partners from 44 states and 10 countries. Marshall and Augustus Shaw, IV, Esq. of Arizona, presented on “Navigating Board Officer Responsibilities and Avoiding Conflict.” Marshall was also recently appointed by the Greensboro City Council to the Greensboro ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control) Board. Marshall has previously served on the Greensboro Human Relations Commission and Greensboro Board of Adjustment as well as Chair of the Greensboro Zoning Commission and … Continue reading

City of Greensboro Adopts New Short Term Rental Ordinance

At the May 23rd special City Council meeting, the Council adopted new regulations to govern and regulate short term rentals in Greensboro.  Previously the City did not have provisions within their ordinance that directly spoke to short term rentals.  As we are all aware, short term rentals are prevalent and are a growing sector of any local rental economy. Under the new ordinance, which will go into effect on January 1, 2024, a short term rental is defined as “the rental (for a fee or other valuable consideration) of a portion or all of available bedrooms of a residentially used … Continue reading

NC Community Association Legislative Update – May 9, 2023

Thursday, May 4, was the “crossover deadline” in the NC General Assembly. That’s the date bills not related to taxes or spending must have passed one chamber to be eligible for consideration during the 2023-2024 legislative session. CAVEAT: In terms of legislation, “dead” doesn’t always mean “completely dead.” A News & Observer story once noted that legislative rules “are made to be circumvented, so there are many ways to keep legislation alive.” (For instance, proposals sometimes appear later in other bills as “technical corrections.”) With the crossover deadline behind us, now is a good time to revisit my last legislative update (NC … Continue reading

What Happens to the House in a Divorce or Separation

In many marriages, the largest asset is the marital home. Not only does it have significant financial value, it usually has great sentimental value for the owners. If you are separating and looking towards divorce, one of the first decisions separating you will have to make is who is moving out of the home. In North Carolina, neither party can “kick out” or “lock out” the other party absent a court order or agreement so sometimes the hardest part of separating is actually getting separated. Before or after separation, however, you and your spouse can settle some or all of their marital … Continue reading

Service Members’ Right to Interest Reduction to 6%

Under the Servicemembers Civil relief act (SCRA), the maximum interest rate that may be charged on certain VA loans is 6 percent during the period of the servicemember’s qualifying military service.  Also established with the foregoing, the SCRA restricts foreclosures on obligations held or guaranteed by servicemembers, provides protections against default judgments, and permits early termination of certain leases, including motor vehicle leases. Under most circumstances, the loan holder, your loan servicer, will determine automatically whether the borrower might qualify for this interest rate limitation and apply any reduced rate. In the past several years this has not been an … Continue reading