Legislation In Maryland General Assembly Would Protect Condo Construction Defect Claims

The Maryland General Assembly is again considering 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 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 »

I Will Be On The C4 Show On WBAL Radio, Wednesday, Feb. 11

Please listen for me on the C4 Show on WBAL Radio on Wednesday, Februray 11 just after the 11:00 am news.

Legislation Expected In House of Delegates to Increase the Amount for Claims Against the Home Builder Guaranty Fund

House Bill 154 is expected to propose an increase to $7,500 as the maximum amont that the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office may order to be paid from the Maryland Homebuilder Guaranty Fund on a homeowner’s claim.  The proposed legislation would also increase the time to 60 days in which the Consumer Protection Division can bring an action against a homebuilder who fails to reimburse the Fund on a claim paid following notice.

My Latest Opinion-Commentary In The Baltimore Sun

Here is a link to my latest opinion-commentary piece in The Baltimore Sun:  McKenzie Elliott’s life mattered

The Maryland Condominium Act Contains Specific Requirements For Adopting Rules and Regulations

While the governing documents of some condominiums contain procedures for the adoption of rules and regulations, most do not.  As a result, it is often assumed that rules and regulations may be adopted in the same manner as any other enactment by the condominium’s board of directors or other governing body.  However, Section 11-111 of the Maryland Condominium Act contains specific requirements for the adoption of rules and regulations with which condominium’s must comply.  Indeed, the CPA establishes minimum standards that must be met, regardless of any provisions contained in the condominium’s governing documents. Read More »

Chesapeake Chapter of the Community Associations Institute Holds Another Successful Symposium

Thanks to all of the members of the Chesapeake Region Chapter of the Community Associations Institute who helped make the 2014 Annual Symposium & Expo a well- attended success.  Ober Kaler was proud to serve as an event sponsor, and to also sponsor a bus so that Eastern Shore members could attend the October 21 event at Martin’s West in Baltimore County.  Special thanks to all those whos stopped by the Ober Kaler table and discussed this blog.

A Portion of a Maryland Condominium Assessment Lien Takes Priority Over Mortgages and Deeds of Trust

Under Section 11-110 of the Maryland Condominium Act, in the event of a foreclosure of a mortgage or deed of trust on a condominium unit, a portion of the condominium’s lien for unpaid assessments has priority over the holder of a first mortgage or first deed of trust recorded after October 1, 2011.  That portion must consist of no more than four months, or the equivalent of four months, of unpaid regular assessments for common expenses, and may include interests, costs of collection, late charges, fines, attorney’s fees, special assessments, or any other costs or amounts due.  However, the total may not exceed $1,200.

Condominium Expenditures In Excess of 15 Percent of the Budget Must Approved By Amendment

Where a residential condominium expenditure results in an assessment increase that exceeds 15% of the amount contained in the adopted budget, the expenditure must be approved in an amendment to the budget, except in cases where the expenditure is required to address a threat to health or safety, or a significant risk of damage to the condominium.  Under Section 11-109.2 of the Maryland Condominium Act, the council of unit owners is required to submit an annual budget to the unit owners at least 30 days prior to its adoption, and the adoption of the budget must then occur at an open meeting of the owners.  Thereafter, any expenditure that would result in an increase in the amount of assessments for the current fiscal year that is in excess of 15% of the budgeted amount must be approved in an amendment to the budget adopted at a special meeting of the owners.  Written notice of the special meeting must be given to the owners at least 10 days prior to the meeting date.  There is an express exception for expenditures needed to correct conditions that constitute a threat to health or safety, or present a significant risk of damage to the condominium if not corrected. Read More »

My Opinion/Commentary in The Baltimore Sun – “Apathetic No More”

This piece on the killing of a 3-year-old in a drive-by shooting is running in The Baltimore Sun online now, and will appear in the August 6 print version:


Ober Kaler Construction Practice Ranked In The Legal 500

I am pleased to report that our Construction Practice Group at Ober Kaler has received a prestigious ranking as a leading law firm in Construction for 2014 by The Legal 500, including special recognition of my condominium practice.  The following is The Legal 500’s description:

“Ober Kaler’s practice is co-chaired by John Morkan and the ‘honest and intelligent’ Joseph Kovars, with a further 16 lawyers spread across its Baltimore and Washington DC offices giving the firm a national scope. Most of its recent work has been government related, such as advising public authorities on heavy highway construction, or assisting private sector clients on government bid protests and PPP projects. Universities and colleges have been a stable client base, though the firm serves all industry sectors, with a strong emphasis on contentious matters. The ‘excellent construction litigation department’ represents private owners in building and construction defect claims, and acts for developers, public authorities, and construction companies. Raymond Burke is ‘an expert among experts in his field’, and has special knowledge of condominium association litigation. The firm is acting as counsel to the US Department of Justice, Antitrust Division andothers regarding the review and analysis of the design and construction of an $850m expansion of a Mexican brewery. It also defended Diamond State Port Corporation in a dispute brought by the contractor arising from alleged breach of contract in connection with the rehabilitation of berth four at the Port of Wilmington. Firm chair John Wolf and Barbara Werther are additional key contacts.”