2017 Maryland Condo and HOA Legislation–What’s Hot and What’s Not

With the Maryland General Assembly now in the final month of the 2017 legislative session which ends on April 10, several bills regarding community associations are still under consideration.  Other bills have died in committee.  A bill must be passed by the Maryland House and Senate and signed by the Governor in order to become law.

Here’s What’s HOT!

State Registration of Community Associations.  Legislation to require each condo, co-op and HOA to register with the state has been passed by the House after it was amended to limit the information required.  For communities which already register with the county, no additional state registration would be required. The bill is now under review in the Senate.

Manager Licensing.  A bill to require community managers to obtain a State license has been introduced again this year.  Manager licensing legislation was previously considered in 2014 and is under study again in the House of Delegates.  The proposed legislation would require a manager to have specified training, pass a test and pay a license fee in order to provide management services to condos, coops and HOAs.

Replacement Reserves for Capital Expenditures.  Every five years, each condominium and homeowners association would be required to obtain a study of the estimated costs to repair and replacement of building structural components, roads, recreation facilities and other similar items.  The House has passed this legislation which is now under review in the Senate.

Foreclosure Sale Notice.   A lender which sells a property at foreclosure would be required to give written notice of the proposed sale to any condo or HOA which has recorded an assessment lien against the property at least 30 days before the sale date.  Notice of any postponement or cancellation  of the foreclosure sale must also be provided to the property owner, condo and HOA.  This legislation has passed both the House and Senate.

Governing Documents.  Still under study are bills to make it easier to amend condo and HOA governing documents and to invalidate condo document provisions which limit the time for bringing condominium legal claims regarding construction defects.

Here’s What’s NOT

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations.  A bill to invalidate condominium and homeowner association covenants which prohibit or unreasonably restrict the installation electric vehicle charging stations in parking spaces designated for the exclusive use of a homeowner was killed by House and Senate committees.

Backyard Gardens.  Also killed in committee was a bill to invalidate association covenants which prohibited gardens in the backyard of a home.

Smoking Restrictions.  Legislation to allow the board of directors of a condominium or homeowners association to adopt rules to prohibit tobacco smoking in an owner’s  condo or townhome was voted down in committee.

For updates and details on legislation affecting Maryland condos, co-ops and homeowner associations, sign up for the Maryland Condominium & HOA Law Blog to receive the latest blogposts by email.

Posted by Thomas Schild Law Group, LLC, attorneys for condominiums, homeowner associations and housing cooperatives in Maryland–including Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Howard County, Frederick County, and Baltimore County; and in Washington, D.C.

 

Maryland Appeals Court Upholds Enforcement of Association Truck Covenant

A homeowner association restriction on trucks has been determined by a Maryland appeals court to be enforceable against the owner of a large military-style vehicle.

The 3-axle camouflaged vehicle was taller than the first story of the home and as wide as the driveway. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals agreed with the trial court that the truck covenant had not been waived by allowing other smaller Sport Utility Vehicles built on a truck chassis.  It was appropriate and reasonable to distinguish between “consumer vehicles” and a “massive army-surplus truck”.

Although the appeals court noted that restrictive covenants may become invalid and unenforceable if the original development plan has been abandoned, or the character of the neighborhood has changed so much as to defeat the purpose of the restriction, those factors were not applicable to the community of single family homes in Harford County where the over-sized military truck was parked.

The court also rejected the homeowner’s contention that suit to obtain an injunction to enforce the truck covenant could not be filed before complying with the dispute resolution procedure in the HOA bylaws.  The bylaws required notice of the alleged violation and an opportunity for a hearing before the HOA Board of Directors before imposing a fine, suspend voting rights or infringe on other rights of a homeowner.

The appeals court concluded that the right to enforce the covenants by court action was provided for in the Declaration without conditions and, therefore, the dispute resolution procedures in the HOA Bylaws did not apply.  Even if the suit was deemed to be an attempt to “infringe” on the rights of the owner, the terms of the Declaration which had no pre-conditions to litigation prevailed over the notice and hearing provisions in the Bylaws.

Although the decision in Maloney v. Fountain Glen Homeowners Association, Inc. is an “unreported” decision and, therefore, not a binding precedent, it is instructive on how courts view enforcement of homeowner association covenant restrictions.

Posted by Thomas Schild Law Group, LLC, attorneys for condominiums, homeowner associations, and housing cooperatives in Maryland and the District of Columbia.

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Single Dwelling Covenant Not Waived By Other Structures

by Tom Schild

A covenant allowing only one dwelling to be constructed on each lot in a Baltimore County community of over 600 homes is not waived by allowing erection of other structures including pool houses, gazebos, guest houses, and sheds, according to a recent ruling of the Maryland Court of Appeals–the highest state appellate court.

At issue in Shader v. Hampton Improvement Association, Inc. was whether a “one dwelling” covenant prohibited construction of a house on each of two subdivided portions of the original lot as it existed when the covenant was first created in 1931. Although the appeals court concluded there had been a waiver of the portion of the covenant which prohibited buildings other than “private dwelling houses”, there had been no waiver of the covenant which prohibited “no more than one dwelling” on each lot.

Explaining that each clause of the covenant is severable and independent of the other restrictions, the Maryland Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court and intermediate appeals court that waiver of one clause did not constitute a waiver of other covenant restrictions.  Therefore, the “one dwelling” covenant remained enforceable to ensure the residential character of the neighborhood and a house was not allowed on each subdivided portion of the original lot.

POSTED BY:  Thomas Schild Law Group, LLC