Homeowner Associations

The United States District Court for the District of Maryland has denied a motion to dismiss filed on behalf of a developer, and allowed claims of a property owner’s association to proceed that concern actions taken while the board was under the control of the developer’s agents.  In Greenspring Quarry Association, Inc. v. Beazer Homes Corp., Civil No. JKB-17-646, the association’s suit relates to charges for common area maintenance costs.  The assoication alleged that the developer was to be responsible for such charges until title transferred to the association, and claimed that, during the period that the developer controlled the board, the management company had been instructed to bill the association for common area maintenance for several years before title was transferred.  The court denied the developer’s motion to dismiss all claims, finding that there were sufficient allegations of an independent duty of care and reasonable reliance on the representations made, and that the claims were stated with sufficient particularity.  Notably, the court found that the developer’s agents on the board assumed fiduciary duties to the association when they occupied the board seats.

Maryland Governor, Larry Hogan, has signed into law legislation passed in the General Assembly that requires a condominium council of unit owners or a homeowners association to provide at least 30-days notice to all owners of any sale, including a tax sale, of a common element in the condominium or common area in the HOA.  What had been Senate Bill 809 and House Bill 1369 in the 2017 session will add new Subsection 11-108(d) to the Maryland Condominium Act, and new Section 11B-106.2 to the Maryland Homeowner Association Act.  The notice required to be given must include written notice to every homeowner; posting of a sign on the property; and, if the association has a website, a notice on the home page.

Beginning in October, Maryland homeowner associations will have the right to collect a fee relating to inspections during the resale process.  What had been House Bill 34 in the 2017 session of the General Assembly, and has now been enacted, entitles an HOA to charge “a reasonable fee not to exceed $50 for an inspection of the lot if required.”  Under Section 11B-106 of the Maryland Homeowner Association Act, sellers are required to provide certain information to prospective purchasers, much of which is often provided by the Association.  Under the statute, the Association can charge “a reasonable fee” for providing this information up to certain limits provided in the statute.  The new law adds an additional fee charge for costs relating to an inspection of the property as part of the resale process.

Maryland Governor, Larry Hogan, has signed into law a bill which will reduce the number votes required to amend condominium and homeowner association bylaws.   What originated as House Bill 789, (now Chapter 480 of the 2017 legislative session), provides for a reduction in the required percentage vote for an amendment of the bylaws from two-thirds to 60 percent.   The original version of the bill passed by the House of Delegates called for a reduction to 55%, but that was ultimately amended in the final version that was passed in both houses of the General Assembly.  Additionally, the bill authorizes adopted bylaws to provide for a percentage lower than 60%.  The new law will also limit the voting to members in “good standing, ” which is defined as not being more than 90 days in arrears with regard to assessment payments.

The new provisions will take effect on October 1, 2017.

Both houses of the Maryland General Assembly have passed an amended version of legislation that would reduce the number votes required to amend condominium bylaws.   As amended, what originated as House Bill 789 would reduce the required percentage vote for an amendment of the bylaws from two-thirds to 60 percent.   The original version of the bill called for a reduction to 55%, but that was ultimately rejected in the final version.  However, the bill authorizes the bylaws themselves to provide for a percentage lower than 60%.  The law would also limit the voting to members in “good standing, ” which is defined as not being more than 90 days in arrears with regard to assessment payments.

The approved legislation contains similar provisions to reduce the percentage vote required for bylaw amendments under the Maryland Homeowners Association Act.

The Maryland House of Delegates has passed an amended version of a bill previously approved in the State Senate that would require a condominium council of unit owners to provide at least 30-days notice to all unit owners of any sale, including a tax sale, of a common element.  The bill would add new Subsection 11-108(d) to the Maryland Condominium Act.  Additionally it would add new Subsection 14-804(e) to the Tax Article to provide that a council of unit owners must give notice to the unit owners when a tax lien has been imposed on a common element.

The proposed law would create a similar notice requirement for homeowner associations with respect to a sale of any common area in the community by adding new Section 11B-106.2 to the Maryland Homeowner Association Act.

The Maryland State Senate has approved, with amendment, a bill previously passed by the House of Delegates.  House Bill 34, would give homeowner associations the right to collect a fee relating to inspections during the resale process.  The version passed by the House would entitle an HOA to charge “a reasonable fee not to exceed $100 for an inspection of the low owner’s lot if required.”  The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee changed the maximum amount of the fee to $50, and added “if the inspection is required by the governing documents of the homeowners association.”  As reported in a prior post, the House of Delegates passed its version by a 85 – 44 vote.

By a vote of 47-0, the Maryland State Senate passed Senate Bill 809, which would require a condominium council of unit owners to provide at least 30-days notice to all unit owners of any sale, including a tax sale, of a common element.  The bill would add new Subsection 11-108(d) to the Maryland Condominium Act.  Additionally it would add new Subsection 14-804(e) to the Tax Article to provide that a council of unit owners must give notice to the unit owners when a tax lien has been imposed on a common element.  The final version that passed added language imposing the same notice requirement a developer where the developer maintains control prior to formation of the council of unit owners.

The proposed law would create a similar notice requirement for homeowner associations with respect to a sale of any common area in the community by adding new Section 11B-106.2 to the Maryland Homeowner Association Act. Proposed new Subsection 14-804(e) of the Tax Article would also require notice by a homeowner association when a tax lien is imposed on any common area.  The final version included an amendment imposing the notice requirement on a declarant where the governing body of the association has not yet formed.

By a vote of 135-1, the Maryland House of Delegates has passed House Bill 651, which would require condominiums and homeowner associations to conduct reserve studies of the common elements and common areas.  As discussed in an earlier post, the new law would provide that, within 90-days of the meeting at which the unit owners assume control of the council, a reserve study must be conducted of the common elements, and the condominium must conduct a reserve study every five years thereafter.  Condominiums established before October 1, 2017 that had a reserve study conducted on or after October 1, 2013 are required to undertake an additional reserve study five years after the previous one, and every five years thereafter.  Condominiums established before October 1, 2017 that have not had a reserve study undertaken on or after October 1, 2013 must conduct a reserve study on or before October 1, 2018, and every five years thereafter.

Also under the bill, similar reserve study requirements would be established for the common areas in homeowner associations.

By a vote of 135-0, the Maryland House of Delegates has passed legislation that would reduce the percentage of affirmative votes required to amend condominium bylaws.  Under Section 11-104(e) of the Maryland Condominium Act, condominium bylaws may only be amended upon a vote of two-thirds (66 2/3 percent) of the unit owners.  House Bill 789 would reduce this to 55 percent.  Significantly, it would also permit the bylaws themselves to establish a percentage as low as 51%.  Additionally, the bill would limit the voting to members in “good standing, ” which is defined as not being more than 90 days in arrears with regard to assessment payments.  The original version of the bill would have also allowed voting to be denied to any member in violation of a provision of the declaration, bylaws or rules and regulations, but this provision was removed in the final version that was approved.

The proposed legislation contains similar provisions to reduce the percentage vote required for bylaw amendments under Section 11B-116 of the Maryland Homeowners Association Act.