Beginning in January 2016, Prince George’s County, Maryland will provide “alternative dispute resolution” assistance regarding disputes involving the governance of condominium, co-op and homeowner associations. The dispute resolution process will be conducted through the County Office of Community Relations (OCR) which will provide a “qualified dispute resolution specialist” to attempt to settle a dispute.
Disputes between associations and homeowners which may be submitted to the OCR include the authority of the association board of directors to require a person to take any action, or not take any action, involving a unit or common element; require a person to pay a fee, fine or assessment; or spend association funds or alter or add a common element.
The alternative dispute resolution procedure may also be used for disagreements concerning the failure of the association board of directors (when required by law or an association document) to properly conduct an election; give adequate notice of a meeting or other action; properly conduct a meeting; properly adopt a budget or rules; maintain or audit books and records; maintain or repair a common element if the failure results in significant personal injury or property damage; or exercise its judgment in good faith concerning the enforcement of the association documents.
Matters which are not subject to the OCR dispute resolution process include disagreements which involve the collection of an assessment validly levied, and the exercise of an association board’s judgment or discretion in taking or deciding not to take any legally authorized action.
A request to invoke the dispute resolution procedure may not be filed with the OCR until the requesting party makes a good faith attempt to exhaust all procedures and remedies provided in the association documents.
Additionally, under the recently enacted Prince George’s County law which establishes the alternative dispute resolution procedure, a community association member “may not file an action in any Prince George’s County Court until he/she has first attempted conflict resolution” through the OCR. The new County law also prohibits a community association from taking “any action to enforce or implement its decision until the time to file a request for alternative dispute resolution process has been exhausted and the opposing party has not requested alternative dispute resolution process”.
Posted by Thomas Schild Law Group, LLC.
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