Right To Terminate Developer Contracts Must Be Exercised Within Three Years

Section 11-133 of the Maryland Condominium Act gives a council of unit owners the right to terminate leases, management contracts, employment contracts, and other contracts entered into by the developer during the period that the developer had control of a majority of the votes in the council.  However, that right of termination must be exercised within three (3) years from the date on which majority control of the council passed from the developer to the unit owners.  Termination of such contracts, if timely exercised, is effective upon thirty (30) days written notice of termination.  Grants to any governmental entity or public utility are not subject to termination.  Also, the right of termination exists only for residential, and not commercial, condominiums.

House of Delegates Passes Bill To Preclude Condo Developers From Limiting Owners Construction Defect Claims

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).

House of Delegates Passes Registration Requirement for Condos, HOAs and Coops

The Maryland House of Delegates, by a vote of 99- 39, has passed House Bill 41, which would require residential  condominiums, homeowner associations and cooperative housing corporations to register annually with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation. The proposed law would require registration information that includes the name and contact information for the property manager, or, if the community does not employ a property manager, a person designated to answer inquiries on behalf of the community.  Original language requiring the names and contact information for each officer and board member was removed in the final version of the bill.  Also deleted from the final version was a provision that would have permitted the Department to require additional information.  The final version of bill gives the Department authority to establish a registration fee not to exceed $10 per year. The bill proposes a$50 fine for failing to register.

Maryland Legislature Considers Proposal To Reduce Votes Required To Amend Bylaws

House Bill 789, now pending in the Maryland General Assembly, 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.  The proposed legislation would reduce this to 55 percent.  Significantly, it would also permit the bylaws themselves to establish an even lower percentage.  Additionally, the bill would limit the voting to members in “good standing, ” which is defined as not being more than 90 days in arrears as to assessments, and not in violation of any provision of the declaration, bylaws or rules and regulations.  This, of course, could have the affect of further reducing the number of votes required for a bylaw amendment.

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.

Maryland Construction Law Institute

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.”

Bill In the Maryland General Assembly Would Permit Restrictions and Prohibitions On Smoking By Condos, HOAs and Landlords

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.”