Condominiums in Maryland have a duty to exercise reasonable and ordinary care to keep the common area safe for residents and their guests. Where there is a dangerous condition on the property which the condominium board or manager knew or should have known about, the condominium may be liable for the injuries caused by the dangerous condition.
Duty Owed Depends on Status of Injured Person. As explained in a decision of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, the potential “premises liability” depends on the relationship between the injured person and the condominium. For an “invitee” on the property at the invitation of the property owner, there is duty of reasonable and ordinary care which includes a duty to inspect the property to discover and correct dangerous conditions. Invitees must also be warned of known dangers. For a “social guest” or “licensee” who is permitted on the property for the benefit of the person entering the property, there is only a duty to warn of known dangers. For a “trespasser” or “bare licensee” who does not have permission to be on the portion of the property where an injury occurs, there is merely a duty to refrain from willful injury or entrapment but no duty to warn of dangerous conditions.
When Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) was declared a pandemic in mid-March, 2020, state and local governments in Maryland and Washington, D.C. ordered that most everyone stay home to limit the spread of the coronavirus. After several months of staying home and restrictions on gathering in public places, business and social activity in Maryland and the District of Columbia stated Phase 2 re-opening in late June, 2020.
While the duration and impact of COVID-19 locally and throughout the United States is still unknown, it is certain that condominiums, homeowner associations, and housing cooperatives must continue to adapt their practices and procedures to the ongoing health crisis. With most offices in the Washington region likely to remain closed until September, 2020 or longer, many residents are still staying home and working at home. Schools may not fully open until 2021, which means school-age children and their parents will continue to be home.
Although we defer to medical and health professionals on how to best protect against the spread of COVID-19, we offer a few practical tips on how community association boards, managers, and residents can adapt the management and operation of their community to limit the risk of illness…and legal liability.
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 →
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 →
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 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 →