Maryland Court of Special Appeals Upholds Contempt Ruling Against Condominium

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals has upheld a ruling of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City finding a Condominium Council of Unit Owners in contempt of court for failing to make common element repairs within the time designated in the ruling of an arbitrations panel, and ordering that monthly payments to the displaced unit owner for alternative living expenses continue until the repairs are properly completed.  I served as counsel for the unit owner.  The appeal can be found entitled as 100 Harborview Drive Condominium Council of Unit Owners v. Penthouse 4C, LLC, No. 0901, Sept. Term 2014, and you can review the opinion by copying the following link:  http://www.courts.state.md.us/appellate/unreportedopinions/2015/0901s14.pdf

Maryland Governor Signs Into Law Legislation That Protects New Home Buyers Who Are Unable To Secure A Loan Commitment

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has signed into law HB 1183, which provides protections to new home buyers who are unable to secure a loan commitment to permit them to proceed to closing.  The new law, which relates only to the initial sale of new homes, amends Section 14-117 of the Real Property Article in the Annotated Code of Maryland concerning loan contingencies in new home contracts.  It provides that all new home contracts must be contingent on the purchaser obtaining a loan commitment.  Additionally, the contract must state the maximum loan interest rate the purchaser is obligated to accept, and the time period in which the purchase must obtain a loan commitment.  If the purchaser does not obtain a loan commitment within the stated rate limit and time period, either the seller or the purchaser may declare the contract void.  Any deposit is to be returned to the purchaser. Read More »

Maryland General Assembly Fails to Pass Legislation Affecting Resale Disclosure Certificates

A bill that was originally intended to require homeowner associations to provide resale certificates, and to limit fees charged by condominium and homeowner associations for providing resale certificates, passed both houses of the Maryland General Assembly, but the two houses were unable to reconcile amendments, including one intended to limit the association’s liability for inaccurate information contained in those certificates.  The Maryland Senate and the House of Delegates both passed versions of House Bill 1007.  As originally proposed, HB 1007 would have limited the fee charged by condominium councils of unit owners for providing required information in connection with the resale of a unit.  It also provided that required resale disclosure information to be furnished by a homeowners association as part of the sale of a home in the community.  These requirements were retained in the amended versions passed by both houses.  One amendment changed the amount of the fee that could be charged.  Further amendments provided for two additional fees associated with the resale process.  A significant amendment provided that “[a]ny liability of the council of unit owners for an error or omission in the certificate shall be limited to the amount of the fees paid for the certificate.” Although versions of the bill were passed on the floor of both houses, a final version to reconcile the amendments was not produced before the session ended.

Choice for Baltimore

Here is a link to my opinion/commentary piece in The Baltimore Sun: Choices for Baltimore

Proposed Legislation To Protect Condominium Warranty Claims Again Dies In Committee

The Maryland General Assembly again rejected legislation that would prevent residential condominium developers from including certain provisions in the project’s governing documents or sales contracts that limit the developer’s liability for construction defects. Senate Bill 570 and House Bill 829 both failed to make it out of committee for a vote on the floor.  The bills would have prohibited 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 have precluded 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.

Both Houses of the Maryland General Assembly Pass Versions Of Bill Affecting Resale Disclosures

Versions of a bill that was originally intended to limit fees charged by condominium associations for providing resale certificates has passed both houses of the Maryland General Assembly with amendments that limit the association’s liability for inaccurate information contained in those certificates.  The Maryland Senate has joined the House of Delegates in passing an amended version of House Bill 1007, which limits the liability of a council of unit owners or a homeowners association for errors and omissions in the content of the resale certificate to the amount of the fees paid for the certificate.  As originally proposed, HB 1007 would have limited the fee charged by condominium councils of unit owners for providing required information in connection with the resale of a unit.  It also provided that required resale disclosure information to be furnished by a homeowners association as part of the sale of a home in the community.  These requirements were retained in the amended bill passed by both houses, with an amendment that limits the fees charged to “the lesser of $175 or the actual cost.”  But the amended version goes much further.  In addition to providing for two additional fees associated with the resale process, the approved version of the bill provides that “[a]ny liability of the council of unit owners for an error or omission in the certificate shall be limited to the amount of the fees paid for the certificate.”  This same limit on liability applies to the certificates now required to be furnished by homeowner associations.  Read More »

Here Is The Link To My Opening Day Opinion/Commentary Piece In The Baltimore Sun

http://eeditionmobile.baltimoresun.com/Olive/Tablet/BaltimoreSun/SharedArticle.aspx?href=TBS%2F2015%2F04%2F06&id=Ar01302

Here Is The Text To My Opening Day Opinion/Commentary Piece In Today’s Baltimore Sun

United In Baseball

Memorial Stadium’s general admission seats brought people together in the ’60s, despite racial strife

By Raymond Daniel Burke

Oct. 8, 1966, is for me, a day thick with enduring and vivid memories. It was a Saturday, the day of the first World Series game ever played in Baltimore, and I doubt that an autumn sun ever shined so brightly or felt so inviting as the one that fell that day on the baseball faithful of this town. We were nothing less than collectively giddy. In the most improbable fashion, the Orioles had beaten the favored Dodgers in the series’ first two games in Los Angeles, defeating the defending champions and their two Hall of Fame-bound pitchers on successive afternoons earlier that week.

For game three at Memorial Stadium, my brother and I had scored tickets in what typically was the general admission area of left field. A unique blend of Baltimore came together here, above the high green outfield wall, to share backless bench seats on a first-come, first-served basis. It was a relaxed place, and often one of the most racially and ethnically integrated spots in the city, providing a venue for personal observations on baseball and on life. Read More »

Maryland House of Delegates Passes Legislation That Would Drastically Limit The Liability Of Condo Councils In Claims For Fraudulent Or Inaccurate Resale Certificates

By a vote of 140-0, the Maryland House of Delegates passed an amended version of HB1007, which, as discussed in my prior post, was intended to limit the fee charged by condominium councils of unit owners for providing required information in connection with the resale of a unit.   Most significantly, the amended version limits the liability of a council of unit owners for errors and omissions in the content of the resale certificate to the amount of the fees paid for the certificate.  It makes not distinction as to whether such errors or omissions are intentional.  This is contrary to, and is seemingly in response to, a ruling of the Maryland Court of Appeals.  In a unanimous opinion filed on April 30, 2012, the  Court of Appeals, in the case of MRA Property Management, Inc., et al. v. Armstrong, established that provisions the Maryland Consumer Protection Act apply to the information contained in a condominium resale certificate, and a council of unit owners and property manager can be liable for unfair and deceptive trade practices if the information has a tendency to mislead the purchaser, even though they are not party to the sales contract, and even if they have otherwise complied with the condominium resale disclosure requirements contained in Section 11-135 of the Maryland Condominium Act.  The bill passed by the House would abrogate this ruling, and limit the council’s liability to “the amount paid for the certificate.”  This would leave defrauded purchasers with recourse only against a management company. Read More »

Maryland General Assembly Considering Limit On Fees Charged For Condo Resale Certificates and Providing That An HOA Must Provide Resale Information

Legislation has been introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates that would limit the fee charged by condominium councils of unit owners for providing required information in connection with the resale of a unit.  House Bill 1007 would also require requested information to be provided by a Homeowners Association as part of the sale of a home in the community.

Under Section 11-135(c) of the Maryland Condominium Act, within 20 days after receiving a written request from a unit owner, the council of unit owners is required to provide a certificate containing information concerning the community that is required to be disclosed to a potential purchaser under that section of the statute.  The law presently provides that the council may charge the unit owner for its costs in furnishing the material.  The proposed legislation would limit this charge to the lesser of $250 or the actual costs.

Under Section 11B-106(b) of the Maryland Homeowners Association Act, a homeowner who is selling their property is required to furnish the potential purchaser with certain information about the community.  The proposed legislation would add a new subsection (c) to the statute that would require the homeowners association to provide that information upon request of the selling homeowner.  It would impose the same limit of the fee charged for providing this material; i.e., the lesser of 250 or the actual cost. Read More »