FHA Condo Certification Rule Awaits Review by Trump Administration

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) recently issued its long-awaited proposed rule regarding standards for condominiums in which individual unit owners are eligible to obtain FHA-insured loans.  However, final action awaits review by new housing agency officials in the Trump Administration.

Mortgages backed by the FHA allow borrowers to make a lower down payment and have less stringent financial qualification criteria than conventional  mortgages. Of the estimated 150,000 condominium nationwide, fewer than 10,000 are certified for FHA-insured loans. Continue reading

Federal Advocacy Summit Tackles Condo and HOA Legislation

Tom Schild recently participated in the Federal Advocacy Summit sponsored by the Community Associations Institute (CAI) in Washington, D.C.  Community association attorneys, managers and homeowners from around the country gathered to learn about federal legislative and regulatory issues with direct financial impact on condos, homeowner associations and housing co-operatives….and carry the message to Capitol Hill.

Among the hot topics was legislation to provide federal disaster relief assistance for the clean up and repair of community association common areas.  This CAI legislative initiative was introduced in the House of Representatives at the end of October, 2015.

As part of the proposed Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act, Congress is also considering changes to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) standards for condominium project approval to make it easier for condominium associations to obtain and maintain FHA-approval  so condo owners and purchasers can get FHA-insured mortgages.

On the CAI hit list is legislation introduced in both the House and Senate which would require the Federal Communications Commission to invalidate private restrictive covenants in condos and HOAs which prohibit or interfere with amateur radio antennas.

On the regulatory front, CAI is opposed to the actions of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) seeking to invalidate state laws which recognize a priory lien for condo and HOA assessments.  FHFA is the government agency which now operates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

With all seats in the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate seats up for election in 2016,  now is the perfect time for community association leaders and residents to let their congressional representatives know the impact these federal issues have on the financial stability of condominiums, homeowner associations and co-operatives.

POSTED BY:  Thomas Schild Law Group, LLC

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Community Governance Training For Managers

Tom Schild recently taught a 2-day program on Community Governance in Baltimore, Maryland.  Community association managers from Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. attended the class to learn about the legal aspects of operating condos, coops and homeowners associations.

The course is part of the Professional Management Development Program of the Community Associations Institute (CAI), a national organization comprised of community association managers, service providers and volunteer leaders.  Topics covered in the Community Governance program include association governing documents; statutes and case law affecting community management; fiduciary responsibilities of association boards and managers; management and service contracts; and developing and enforcing community rules.

Tom is member of CAI’s National Faculty and has taught the Community Governance program since 1998 in many cities throughout the United States. He is also a Fellow of CAI’s College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL), which is  comprised of fewer than 160 attorneys nationwide who are recognized for their leadership  and contributions in the field of community association law.

POSTED BY:  Thomas Schild Law Group, LLC

 

 

10 Tips for Condos and HOAs to Stay Out of Court

Tom Schild co-presents 10 Tips for Staying Out of Court at the Annual Conference and Expo of the Community Associations Institute’s Washington Metropolitan Chapter on Saturday March 7, 2015.

Those attending the program will learn how court litigation can usually be avoided if board members of condos, HOAs and coops have a basic understanding of the duties and responsibilities for governing their community.

The Number 1 Tip is that board members must read the association declaration, bylaws and other governing documents for their community. The governing documents lay out the authority of the board to impose and collect assessments, spend funds, maintain and repair common areas, and enforce use restrictions.

Other tips for staying out of court include inspect the common areas; avoid ambiguous contracts; be reasonable and consistent in enforcing rules; and document board actions.

Community association boards of directors should plan ahead to avoid litigation by following governance procedures, complying with fair housing requirements; and acting promptly to collect assessments.  In addition, board members should stay informed of laws and court rulings which affect association governance.

The CAI Washington Metro Chapter’s Annual Conference and Expo at the Convention Center in Washington D.C. features speakers on a wide range of topics and over a hundred exhibitors who provide goods and services to community associations.

POSTED BY: Thomas Schild Law Group, LLC

Pit Bull Legislation Stalls

by Tom Schild

After considering several bills regarding liability for injuries caused by dogs, the Maryland General Assembly has adjourned until January 2012 without enacting any dog bite legislation.

During the recent Special Session, the Senate and House passed different versions of legislation which would impose dog bite liability on landlords and others who have the right to control the presence of dogs on their property only where there is knowledge of a particular dog’s presence and vicious propensity.  This would have restored the negligence standard of liability modified by a recent appeals cout decision with respect to injuries caused by pit bulls and mixed breed pit bulls.

For dog owners, the proposed dog bite legislation would have extended the strict liability standard to injuries caused by all breeds of dogs, with a few exceptions for specific circumstances.

After passing casino legislation, the General Assembly adjourned on August 15 without taking final action on the dog bite bills.

Appeals Court Ruling–Strict Liability for Pit Bulls

The proposed dog bite legislation was in response to the April 26 ruling of the Maryland Court of Appeals–the highest state appellate court–that both the owner of a pit bull dog (or pit bull mixed breed) and a landlord or other person with the right to control the presence of such dogs would be strictly liable for all injuries caused by such dogs whether or not there was any knowledge that a particular dog had a history of being vicious. Concluding that pit bulls are inherently dangerous animals, the court decision in Tracey v. Solesky changed the long-established common law (i.e. court-made law) liability standard for pit bull owners and property owners.

The  appeals court stated that the new strict liability standard applies to any new claims arising after the date of its decision.  Faced with greater potential liability for pit bull bites, some landlords reportedly began terminating leases of tenants who had pit bulls and some pit bull owners surrendered their dogs to animal shelters.  Condominium, homeowner association and coop boards began consideration of a ban on pit bulls and pit bull mixed breeds.

On May 25, the Court of Appeals was asked to reconsider its decision.  This created  uncertainty whether the ruling would remain effective as of April 26 if it was not modified on reconsideration.  In response to a legislator’s inquiry as to the status of the court ruling, a Maryland Assistant Attorney General issued an opinion letter on July 10 advising that, in her opinion, the new liability standard announced by the Court of Appeals was not yet in effect because the court ruling was not a final decision, so long as the request for reconsideration was pending.  But, that letter also indicated it was uncertain if the court would agree with her opinion and urged private parties to consult their own legal counsel for advice.

The court decision has been widely criticized for its conclusion that pit bulls are inherently dangerous, for applying a different standard of liability to one breed of dog, and for making landlords and others with the right to control the presence of pit bulls on their property strictly liable for injuries caused by such dogs.

Legislation Proposed to Overturn Court Ruling

In response to criticism of the appeals court ruling by animal rights advocates, landlords, the Community Associations Institute, and insurance companies, the Maryland General Assembly acted quickly during its August special session to consider legislation to overturn the court ruling while the request for court reconsideration was still pending.

On behalf of the Community Associations Institute, I attended the House Judiciary Committee hearing to explain the special problems of condos, HOAs and coops in banning, identifying and removing pit bulls and mixed pit bull breeds.  Unlike landlords which can readily ban pit bulls and evict tenants who violate pet restrictions, it is far more difficult, time-consuming and costly for a community association to ban certain breeds of dogs and have prohibited dogs removed from the community.  The final House version of the legislation included an amendment to make clear that condominiums, homeowner associations, and housing cooperatives are not subject to the strict liability standard.

With the support of animal rights groups, the Senate and House passed bills to generally extend the strict liability standard to owners and keepers of all dogs, with a few exceptions for veterinarians, police and military personnel, and other specified circumstances.

With the support of organizations representing landlords, community associations, insurance companies and animal rights advocates, both the Senate and House-passed versions overturn the strict liability standard for property owners and restores the common law liability standard for property owners which was in effect prior to the court ruling in Tracey v. Solesky Under the negligence standard, a landlord, condominium, homeowners association, housing cooperative or other person with control over the presence of a dog can still be liable for injuries caused by a dog where there is knowledge of the dog on the property and knowledge of its vicious propensities.

No Dog Bite Legislation Enacted

Although similar (but different) versions of dog bite legislation was introduced, considered,  and passed by the Maryland Senate and House in less than a week during the special legislative session, the differences were not resolved and no new law was approved by the General Assembly.  The entire topic of dog bite liability is expected to be revisited again during the regular January 2013 legislative session….when the legislative dogfight will continue.

 

CAI Chesapeake Chapter to Host Community Governance Program

The Chesapeake Region Chapter of the Community Associations Institute (CAI) will host the CAI Community Governance course in Pikesville, Maryland  on February 9 and 10, 2012.  The two-day course is part of CAI’s Professional Management Development Program for community association managers.

Topics include the legal responsibilities of condo and HOA boards and managers; the relationship between association governing documents and state, local and federal statutes; and the contractual and corporate basis for the manager’s role in community decision-making. The course also covers rules development and enforcement and potential conflicts of interest which managers and association boards may encounter.

The instructor for the Baltimore-area program will be Maryland attorney Tom Schild who is a member of CAI’s National Faculty and the College of Community Association Lawyers.  Tom has taught the Community Governance course in cities throughout the United States, including Seattle, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Chicago, Washington, Cincinnati, Nashville, Sarasota and Charleston.

For more information on the Community Governance course and the Professional Management Development Program, go to the Community Associations Institute website, caionline.org.

CAI is a national organization dedicated to fostering competent, well-governed community associations that are home to approximately 20 percent of all American households.  For nearly 40 years, CAI has provided education and resources to volunteer homeowners who govern community associations and the professionals who support them.  CAI’s 30,000 members include community association volunteer leaders, professional managers, community management firms, attorneys, and other professionals and companies that provide products and services to community associations.