Maryland Eases Hurdle to Amending Condo and HOA Covenants

The governing documents of Maryland condominiums and homeowner associations often require that amendments to the governing documents must be approved by up to 100 percent of the lenders who hold the mortgage of homeowner’s property. The Maryland Condominium Act for several years has allowed lender approval of most condominium bylaw amendments to be presumed if a lender does not object to the amendment within 60 days.

A new Maryland law extends the presumed lender consent to amendments to a condominium declaration and to all governing documents of a homeowners association, including the declaration of covenants, bylaws, deed and agreement, and other recorded covenants and restrictions. The hurdle of obtaining lender approval has been eased for nearly all amendments to condominium and HOA covenants. The only exceptions are amendments which alter the priority of the mortgage lien; materially impair or affect an owner’s unit or lot as collateral; or materially impair or affect the right of the lender to exercise rights under the mortgage or law.

The presumed consent procedure requires the association to deliver the proposed amendment to each lender entitled to notice of the amendment. If the lender does not object in writing within 60 days of actual receipt of the proposed amendment, the lender is deemed to have consented to the amendment.

The new amendment procedure is included in the Maryland Condominium Act and Maryland Homeowners Association Act, effective October 1, 2020.

Separately, the Maryland Condominium Act insurance provisions were amended this year to allow a condominium to require a unit owner to pay the master insurance deductible amount up to $10,000 where the cause of damage originates in the owner’s condominium unit. This is increase from $5,000, beginning in October, 2020.

And, the Maryland Condominium Act and Maryland Homeowners Association Act were amended to require all Maryland condos and HOAs to submit the approved annual budget to all owners within 30 days after the meeting at which the budget was adopted. This is in addition to the requirement that the proposed annual budget be provided to owners at least 30 days before it is adopted. The budget information may be provided by email, posting on the association website or inclusion in the association newsletter.

Another new Maryland law requires all condominiums, housing cooperatives, and homeowner associations in Prince George’s County to obtain a replacement reserve study of the condition the common property every 5 years and include in the annual condominium fees a portion of the estimated future cost to repair and replace major components of the condominium.

U.S. Supreme Court Sidesteps Condo Assessment Dispute

The United States Supreme Court, during its recently-ended 2018 Term, declined  to review the decision of a federal appeals court that a condominium owner is not personally responsible for payment of assessments which become due after the owner files a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition when the owner makes all payments under a bankruptcy payment plan approved by the Bankruptcy Court. Continue reading

2020 Vision: Maryland Condominium Legislative Update

Condominium insurance, replacement reserves and dispute resolution procedures were among the condominium and homeowners association topics which were considered during the 2019 Maryland legislative session.  However, virtually no new laws affecting community governance were enacted this year.

Looking ahead to 2020, legislation concerning insurance, reserves and dispute resolution is likely to introduced again.

Condominium Insurance Deductibles

Where damage to condominium units and common elements is caused by fire, water or other perils covered by the master property damage insurance, the Maryland Condominium Act requires a unit owner to pay up to the first $5,000 of repair expenses when the cause of the damage originates in that owner’s condominium unit.  While some condos choose a higher deductible, others can only obtain insurance with a deductible of $10,000 or more.  This leaves the condominium association responsible for repair expenses between $5,000 and the amount covered by insurance. Continue reading

HUD Urged to Limit Association Fair Housing Liability

More than two years after new fair housing rules regarding discriminatory actions of residents which create a hostile housing environment for other residents were adopted by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in October 2016, it remains uncertain what  community association boards and managers must do to avoid liability for not ending the discriminatory conduct of owners and other residents of condominiums, homeowner associations, and housing cooperatives.

The HUD rules establish nationwide standards which HUD will apply in enforcing the federal Fair Housing Act with respect to alleged harassment based on race, religion, national origin, sex, familial status or disability.    In addition to liability for a person’s own conduct and the conduct of that person’s agents and employees, the 2016 fair housing rules also make a community association liable for failing to take prompt action to end a discriminatory housing practice by residents where the person knew, or should have known, of the discriminatory conduct and had the power to correct it.  The HUD rule does not require that the housing provider have a discriminatory intent in not intervening to stop the resident’s discriminatory conduct. 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 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