After a year-long examination of the operations of the Montgomery County Commission on Common Ownership Communities (CCOC), the County Council has enacted a new law which makes changes in the CCOC dispute resolution process. More than 340,000 Montgomery County, Maryland residents live in over 1,000 condominiums, homeowners associations, and housing cooperatives. The CCOC was created in 1991 to provide a forum for certain disputes between association residents and the board which govern the association to be resolved without going to court, and to provide educational resources for associaiton residents and leaders
Where the CCOC staff determines that there are reasonable grounds to conclude that a violation of law or association documents has occurred, the new law requires the staff to attempt to resolve disputes filed with the CCOC through informal negotiation and possibly mediation.
If the party who filed the CCOC dispute does not attend the mediation, the dispute must be dismissed. If the party who is alleged to violation applicable law or the association documents does not attend the mediation, the matter must be set for a hearing and that party is prohibited from appearing at the hearing to present testimony and evidence. Previously, there was no requirement for active staff negotiation, and mediation was voluntary.
The new law also requires all members of the CCOC to take the same CCOC training on community association governance which association board members are required to take, and any other training provided or approved by the County Attorney. Additionally, volunteer arbitrators who chair CCOC hearing panels will be prohibited from representing any parties in disputes before other hearing panels.
Separately, the annual community association registration fee was increased from $3 to $5 per dwelling unit beginning July 1 to allow the CCOC to provide more staff and and educational resources. The CCOC is now part of the Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs.
Posted by Thomas Schild Law Group, LLC, attorneys for condominiums, homeowner associations, and housing cooperatives in Maryland Counties of Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Howard County, and Frederick County; and in Washington, D.C.