Condominium Owner Negligence Bars Claim Against Contractor

Where a condominium unit in Baltimore County, Maryland was damaged by steam escaping from the heating system when a unit owner hired a plumber to remove heat radiators in the unit  and was negligent by not requesting the contractor to re-install  the radiators after the unit was painted, the condo insurance carrier may not recover the cost to repair the unit from the plumbing contractor, a federal trial court in Maryland recently ruled.

The radiators were removed in July when the central heating system was not operating, and the unit owner did not request the contractor to re-install the radiators until November after the heating system had been tuned on. The cost of more than $120,000 to repair the damage to the unit was covered by the condominium’s property damage insurance.  The insurance company paid the condominium association which then paid the unit owner who hired a contractor to make the repairs to the unit.

The insurance carrier filed suit against the plumbing contractor to recover the amount it paid to the condominium.  The contractor contended that the claim should not be allowed because the unit owner was an insured under the condo master insurance policy and was negligent in not contacting the contractor to re-install the radiators. Continue reading

Short Term Rentals Now OK in Montgomery County, Maryland

Short term daily and weekly rentals are now allowed in all residential areas of Montgomery County, Maryland, beginning July 1, 2018.

Previously, no residential rentals were permitted in Montgomery County for less than 30 days.  Faced with widespread illegal daily and weekly rentals, the County Council passed legislation in October, 2017 to allow these rentals where the property is the primary residence of the owner or owner-authorized resident of the rental property. However, condominiums, homeowner associations and housing cooperatives are still allowed to ban or restrict short term rentals Continue reading

2018 Maryland Legislative Update–New Laws Help Condos and HOAs

The hot topic during the 2018 Maryland legislative session was how Maryland will adapt to recent changes in federal income tax and health insurance laws.

Beyond the headlines, the Maryland General Assembly considered many bills which directly affect Maryland condominiums, homeowner associations, and housing cooperatives. Several new laws which help condos and HOAs were enacted. Continue reading

Maryland General Assembly OKs Bill to Help Condos Collect Delinquent Assessments

The Maryland General Assembly has approved legislation to make it easier for condominium associations to suspend use of the common area parking lot, pool and other recreational amenities when an owner is delinquent in paying the condo assessments for more than 60 days.

The new law allows approval by owners with 60 percent of the total eligible votes to amend a condominium declaration to provide for the suspension of use of these portions of the condominium common property.  This is far less than the 80 percent minimum required by the Maryland Condominium Act for other declaration amendments, and some older condo documents require as much as 100 percent unanimous approval.  Continue reading

Maryland Legislature Bans Developer Restrictions on Condominium Warranty Claims

Legislation to prevent condominium developers from imposing restrictions on condominium warranty claims was passed by the Maryland General Assembly during the final days of the legislative session in April, 2018.  In recent years, condominium developers have put provisions in condominium bylaws and sales contracts to limit the ability to condominium associations and unit owners to sue the developer for construction defects. Continue reading

Maryland Condo and HOA Restrictions on Commercial Vehicle Parking

Maryland condominium and homeowners association covenants often prohibit parking “commercial vehicles” without specifying what constitutes a commercial vehicle.

Where a word or phrase used in the declaration of covenants for a condominium or homeowners association is not defined in the covenants or by statute, the board of directors has broad discretion to adopt rules which explain how the provisions of the covenants will be applied.

If there are no community rules which define what constitutes a “commercial vehicle”, it is likely that a court would apply the Maryland statutory definition of “commercial motor vehicle” used in connection with the requirements for obtaining a commercial driver’s license.  Under that definition, a commercial vehicle includes any vehicle with a gross weight rating of at least 26,001 pounds; a vehicle designed to transport 16 or more passengers; or any size vehicle used to transport hazardous materials.  Excluded from the statutory definition are fire and rescue vehicles with audible and visual signals. Continue reading