Maryland General Assembly Rejects Legislation That Would Have Aided Condominium Councils and Unit Owners In Pursuing Building Defect Claims

Legislation introduced in the Maryland General Assembly that would have prevented developers from including provisions in condominium governing documents that limit the developer’s liability for construction defects failed to reach a floor vote during the 2016 session. Senate Bill 250 and House Bill 1170 proposed to 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 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 have prohibited 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 have precluded 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.

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. (more…)

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.

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. (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