Individual Unit Owners

The Maryland Court of Appeals has invalidated a rule adopted by a condominium to suspend access to common elements for unit owners who are delinquent in paying assessments.  In an opinion issued on June 23, 2017 in the case of Elvation Towne Condominium Regime II, Inc. v. Rose, No. 33, Sept. 2016, the Court held that, in order to restrict access to the common elements as a means of enforcing payment of condominium assessments, such a restriction must be provided in the condominium’s declaration.  It may not be adopted by rule promulgated by the board of directors.  The ruling affirmed prior rulings in the case by the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. (more…)

The Maryland Senate failed to vote on SB 670, which would prevent condominium developers from limiting the ability of the council of unit owners and individual unit owners to bring claims for building defect issues.  The House of Delegates version of the bill was approved by a vote of 136-0, but the Senate version did not make to the floor for a vote.  The legislation was intended to prevent condominium developers from limiting the ability of a council of unit owners and individual unit owners to bring claims for building issues.  The proposed law would prevent developers from including certain provisions in condominium governing documents or contracts of sale that act as an impediment to claims alleging the failure of the developer to comply with (1) applicable building codes; (2) plans and specifications for the project approved by the local governing authority; (3) manufacturer’s installation instructions for building products used the condominium; and (4) warranty provisions under Sections 10-203 and 11-131 of the Real Property Article. Under the bill passed by the House, a developer would be precluded from including provisions that:  (a) shorten the statute of limitations for filing claims; (b) waive application of the “discovery rule” for purposes of determining when a claim accrued; (c) require the council or a unit owner in an arbitration proceeding to assert a claim within a period shorter than the applicable statute of limitations; or (d) operate to prevent a council or unit owner from filing a law suit, initiating arbitration proceedings, or otherwise asserting a claim within the applicable statute of limitations.

 

The Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee has issued a favorable report on legislation, which has already been passed by the House of Delegates, that would reduce the number 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.  Approved 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.

By a vote of 136-0, the Maryland House of Delegates approved a bill to protect condominium owners’ rights with regard to bringing construction defect claims against the project’s developer.  House Bill 676 would prevent condominium developers from limiting the ability of the council of unit owners and individual unit owners to bring claims for building issues.  The proposed law would prevent developers from including certain provisions in condominium governing documents or contracts of sale that act as an impediment to claims alleging the failure of the developer to comply with (1) applicable building codes; (2) plans and specifications for the project approved by the local governing authority; (3) manufacturer’s installation instructions for building products used the condominium; and (4) warranty provisions under Sections 10-203 and 11-131 of the Real Property Article.

As to such claims, under the proposed law, the developer would be precluded from including provisions that:  (a) shorten the statute of limitations for filing claims; (b) waive application of the “discovery rule” for purposes of determining when a claim accrued; (c) require the council or a unit owner in an arbitration proceeding to assert a claim within a period shorter than the applicable statute of limitations; or (d) operate to prevent a council or unit owner from filing a law suit, initiating arbitration proceedings, or otherwise asserting a claim within the applicable statute of limitations.

A companion bill is pending in the Maryland Senate (SB 670).

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.

Senate Bill 529 in the Maryland General Assembly would authorize condominiums to restrict the use of common elements by unit owners who are delinquent in paying assessments.  The proposed law would add new subsection 11-104(e) to the Maryland Condominium Act to provide that the bylaws may contain a provision permitting such restrictions.  Under the bill, the restriction on use of the common elements may be imposed on a delinquent unit owner who is not in a payment plan, is delinquent on a payment plan, or has defaulted on a previous payment plan.  The law would specifically allow condominium bylaws to be amended to include such a provision.

Senate Bill 809 and House Bill 1369, now pending in the Maryland General Assembly, 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 bills would add new Subsection 11-108(d) to the Maryland Condominium Act.  The legislation would also add new Subsection 14-804(e) to the Tax Article to provide that a council of unit owners must give at least 30-days 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. 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.

I will be speaking today (March 9) at the Maryland Construction Law Institute seminar at the Ecker Business Training Center, 6751 Columbia Gateway Drive, Columbia, Maryland 21046.  My subject we be “Condominium and New Home Warranties and Rights of Action.”

House Bill 500, now pending the Maryland General Assembly, provides for a proposed amendment to Section 11-104 of the Maryland Condominium Act that would allow a condominium’s bylaws to include “a restriction or prohibition on smoking tobacco products within the units or in the common elements.”  The proposed legislation would also amend Section 11-111 to authorize a council of unit owners to adopt a rule imposing such a restriction or prohibition.

The bill also would also add new Section 11B-111.7 to the Maryland Homeowners Association Act, which would permit a homeowner association to “include in its declaration, bylaws, rules, or recorded covenants and restrictions a provision that restricts or prohibits the smoking of tobacco products in any multi-unit dwelling or in the common areas.  A “multi-unit dwelling” is defined in the bill as “a town house, a row house, or any other individually owned dwelling unit that shares a common wall, floor, or ceiling with another individually owned dwelling unit.”

The proposed legislation would also amend Maryland Real Property Code Section 8-208 to permit landlords to include in written residential leases “a restriction or prohibition on smoking tobacco products within the dwelling unit or elsewhere on the premises.”

 

Proposed legislation now pending in the Maryland General Assembly would prevent condominium developers from limiting the ability of the council of unit owners and individual unit owners to bring construction defect claims for issues affecting the condominium.  Senate Bill 670 and House Bill 676 would prevent developers from including certain provisions in condominium governing documents or contracts of sale that act as an impediment to claims.  Specifically, the proposed legislation relates to claims alleging the failure of the developer to comply with (1) applicable building codes; (2) plans and specifications for the project approved by the local governing authority; (3) manufacturer’s installation instructions for building products used the condominium; and (4) warranty provisions under Sections 10-203 and 11-131 of the Real Property Article.

As to such claims, the developer may not include provisions that:

(a) Shorten the statute of limitations for filing claims;

(b) Waives application of the “discovery rule” for purposes of determining when a claim accrued;

(c) Requires the council or a unit owner in an arbitration proceeding to assert a claim within a period shorter than the applicable statute of limitations; and

(d) operates to prevent a council or unit owner from filing a law suit, initiating arbitration proceedings, or otherwise asserting a claim within the applicable statute of limitations. (more…)