Opening Day 2016: Remembering Frank Robinson’s Arrival In Baltimore 50 Years Ago

Here is link to my Opening Day op/ed in today’s Baltimore Sun:

The Failure of the Republican Establish To Practice Fiscal Conservatism

Here is a link to my most recent opinion/commentary that appeared in The Baltimore Sun on March 7, 2016:

Proposed Legislation in the Maryland General Assembly Would Require Common Ownership Communities To Register Annually with the State

Bill 1061 in the Maryland House of Delegates would require common ownership communities — including residential condominiums, homeowner associations and cooperatives — to register each year with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.  The community would be required to provide (1) the name, address and county in which it is located; (2) the number and type of units; (3) proof of registration with the county if required in that jurisdiction; (4) the name and contact information for each officer or member of the board of directors or other governing body, the property manager, and any attorney; (5) a statement as to fidelity insurance maintained; (6) a statement as to reserve studies and current reserve balances; (7) a statement as to grievance procedures; and (8) any other information that the Department may require.

Montgomery County Requires Association Board Members To Complete An On-Line Education Course

As of January 2, 2016, those who serve on the boards of condominiums, homeowner associations, and housing coops in Montgomery County, Maryland must now complete an education course on the responsibilities of serving on a board of directors.  The law charges the Montgomery County Commission on Common Ownership Communities with the responsibility for developing the curriculum.  The Commission has established an on-line course on its website at the following link:

Each condominium, HOA and coop in Montgomery County is required to certify to the Commission that each of its board members has completed the required training, along with providing an annual report that includes the name and address of each board member, the date each member completed the training, the number of vacancies on the board, and the length of time each vacancy existed.

It should be noted that failure to complete the training course will not disqualify a board member from continuing to serve.  However, if a condominium, HOA or coop board member does not complete the mandatory education, the Commission may take legal action to enforce the training requirement.  Also, a Commission dispute resolution panel that is reviewing a dispute between a homeowner and a community association may consider a board member’s failure to complete the training in deciding the dispute.


Maryland General Assembly Again Considers Legislation To Protect Condo Owners’ Rights of Action Against Developers

Legislation has again been introduced in the Maryland General Assembly to prevent developers from including provisions in condominium governing documents that limit the developer’s liability for construction defects. Senate Bill 250, introduced by Senator Delores G. Kelley, would prohibit provisions in the declaration, bylaws or rules and regulations that limit the ability of a council of unit owners to file suit on behalf of itself or the unit owners or enforce warranty claims. The proposed new law would also preclude limits on the rights of condominium councils or individual unit owners to bring claims relating to an alleged failure of the developer to comply with building codes, county approved plans and specifications, product manufacturer’s installation instructions, and other construction industry standards. Proposed new Section 11-134.1 of the Maryland Condominium Act would prohibit provisions designed to prevent the filing of a claim within the applicable period of limitations or prevent claims from accruing pursuant to the “discovery rule.” The new law would also preclude provisions requiring a vote of the unit owners approving the initiation of a claim, unless such a requirement is adopted after the unit owners assume control of the community from the developer. Read More »

Maryland Appellate Court Rules That A Construction Company Can Be Entitled To Coverage Under Its Subcontractor’s Policy

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals has held that a construction company is entitled to coverage under its subcontractor’s insurance policy as to claims that it was negligent in its supervision of the subcontractor and the work site.  In James G. Davis Construction Corp. v. Erie Insurance Exchange, No. 802, Sept. Term 2014, a construction company and its scaffolding subcontractor were both sued in a personal injury action following the collapse of scaffolding at a residential construction site.  In an opinion dated October 28, 2015,  the Court of Special Appeals reversed a lower court declaratory judgment ruling, and held that the subcontractor’s liability policy provided coverage for the construction company in response to the plaintiff’s claims that the construction company failed to exercise reasonable care in its control of the construction site, the construction of the scaffolding, and its general supervision of the project.

Maryland Bill To Encourage Installation of Electric Vehicle Chargers Now Available For Review

The text of Senate Bill 168, which would provide for the installation of electric vehicle chargers at condominiums and in homeowner associations, as well as at rental properties, is now available.  The proposed legislation would void any provision in condominium and homeowner association documents that unreasonably restricts the installation of chargers, and would regulate and limit the approval process by which a homeowner could secure approval to install a charger.

Here is a link to the full text of the bill:

Maryland Senate Bill Would Encourage Installation of Electric Vehicle Chargers

A bill introduced in the early  stages of the 2016 session of the Maryland General Assembly would make provisions for the installation of electric vehicle chargers that impact condominiums and homeowners associations.  Senate Bill 168 is sponsored by Senator Brian Feldman of Montgomery County  The language of a similar bill introduced during the 2015 session (SB 762), also introduced by Senator Feldman, would void any provision in condominium and homeowner association documents that restricts the installation of chargers, and would regulate and limit the approval process by which a homeowner could secure approval to install a charger.  The text of this year’s bill should be available shortly.

We Are All Heirs of the American Experiment

Here is a link to my opinion/commentary that was published in The Baltimore Sun on Christmas Day.  The full text appears after the break. Read More »

Maryland Condo Held In Contempt For Failing To Complete Court Ordered Repairs and Is Subjected To a Significant Money Judgment

The Circuit Court for Baltimore City has entered a significant money judgment against a condominium council of unit owners as a means of enforcing its prior order finding the condominium in contempt for failing to complete court ordered repairs.  In a case in which I represented the unit owner, the Circuit Court had originally ordered the Harborview Condominium to undertake and complete, by the end of December 2013, certain specified repairs to the exterior common elements needed to make the building watertight.  In July 2014, the Circuit Court held that both the failure to include certain specified items in the repair contract, and the failure to complete the repairs within the time ordered by the Court, amounted to willful contempt, and called for the imposition of sanctions.  The Circuit Court further found that the case presented the “exceptional circumstances” required under Maryland law for the award of compensatory damages, consisting of monthly payments to the unit owner continuing until the repairs are completed.  The Court also established certain construction deadlines to be met in order for the Condominium to avoid additional damage payments.  These rulings were affirmed by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals in August 2015.  In an order dated December 30, 2015, the Circuit Court directed that the unpaid monthly payments to the unit owner be entered as a money judgment.  It further ordered that the total of monthly payments not yet due be accelerated and included in the money judgment.  The total money judgment entered exceeds $600,000. Read More »