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:  http://www2.montgomerycountymd.gov/CCOC-Training.

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:  http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2016RS/bills/sb/sb0168f.pdf

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.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-murphy-dissent-20151224-story.html 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 »

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.