What You Did Not Know About HOAs/Condo Associations In Virginia
We at Fox and Moghul often get queries regarding HOA/Condo Association disputes. This pertains to an area of real estate law that is very specialized and requires an understanding of the structure of community associations. Some examples of such disputes include, but are not limited to, property upkeep and maintenance, water damage from common elements, neighbor disputes and noise complaints. There are ways to resolve these issues, but in some cases legal meditation is necessary.
What is a Community Association?
In the 1960s the Commonwealth of Virginia implemented homeowners’ associations in order to protect homeowners and the value of their property. Homeowners’ associations perform maintenance on the grounds of the property, handle insurance and community utilities, in addition to the finances of the property or building.
A community association is defined as a legal establishment that provides maintenance and protection to one’s home within a community. The purpose of a community association is to provide protection to homeowners and their property. In order to establish a community association, the developer is required to file an article of incorporation. Once the articles of incorporation are approved the community association can be formed. The structure of a community association consists of board members who hold executive power in making decisions, handling finances and ensuring the rules of the community are being followed. There are three types of community associations. The three categories are: planned communities, cooperatives and condominiums.
What governing Documents does an HOA or Condo Association have?
Declaration: A declaration is a legal document that is written by an association to explain the rules and requirements for how the association is to be operated and maintained. Declarations will vary by the type of community that one is in, for example a condominium, townhouse community or a single-family home. The differences between the declarations include the style and plat of the community of where your home is located.
Bylaws: The bylaws for a homeowner’s association explains the rules that board members must follow. This includes but is not limited to, board term limits, board meetings and community meetings.
Statutory Regimes that Govern
Under Va. Code §55-508, the Property Owners’ Association Act applies to homeowners’ associations that were recorded in records after January 1, 1959. Here are some key definitions:
Lot Owner: Under Va. Code §55-509 a lot owner is defined as one or more persons who own a lot. This definition can create some confusion specifically those who hold mortgages for their current home. Despite the deed of your home stating that the mortgagee owns the property until all payments are completed, the homeowner is legally the lot owner.
Unit Owner: According to Va. Code §55-79.41, a unit owner is an individual who owns a condo unit. Individuals who are unit owners hold ownership of the space within the areas of the unit but do not hold ownership of the ground land.
Common Areas: Va. Code §55-509 defines a common area as property in a development which is either owned and/or leased by an individual(s). This area is to be maintained by the property owners’ association for its members of the community to use.
Limited Common Areas/Elements: In Va. Code 55-79.41 limited common areas/elements is described as a portion of a specific area that is reserved for the exclusive use of some condo owners. For example, a shared balcony between two condo units is classified as a limited common area/element.
Contact Us Today
If you are part of a Community Association and are experiencing legal issues, Fox & Moghul, Attorneys at Law, are here to help. It is crucial to seek an experienced Virginia real estate lawyer’s advice before purchasing a property governed by a. If you have already signed the agreement, we can help you understand it and answer your legal questions. Our law firm represents businesses and employees in issues related to non-compete agreements. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.