As an HOA or condo association board, keeping up with the latest legal regulations can be a tough chore. To help you stay attuned to the most recent developments in Maryland HOA law, Comsource has pulled together this update on the 2018 Maryland legislative session as it pertains to HOA and condo association operations.
It’s critical for associations and board members to keep abreast of the latest legal changes to ensure its governing documents are in alignment with both state and federal regulations. Failure to stay on top of legal matters that could directly impact your community and its owners is a failure of a board’s fiduciary responsibilities. While board membership is a volunteer position, and many board members work full-time jobs, procedures, training and access to information need to be maintained to mitigate legal risk to your community association and its members.
Lisa Magill, of counsel at Kaye, Bender & Rembaum in Pompano Beach, Florida, as quoted by HOA Leader, had this to say about keeping your board educated: "While operating a condo or HOA is much like operating any business that owns or manages property, there's so much more to know, understand, and confront in a community association setting… Board members have to have basic knowledge of legal procedures and requirements, understand the governing documents—especially their limitations…”
The 2018 Maryland legislative session ended in early April, bringing with it some new regulations that all HOA and condo association board members should understand. Many bills that came to the floor did not get passed, so we’ll have to wait and see if they are put forward again in the 2019 session. For now, however, this blog provides a snapshot of the laws passed in 2018 that impact HOA and condo associations. We encourage you to visit the Maryland General Assembly website for full details.
Here are some legislative matters of importance passed in the 2018 session:
Starting on October 1, 2018, condo developers will no longer be able to include language in bylaws or contracts that truncate the time allowed for associations and owners to sue the developer over construction defects. Owner of association claims can pertain to:
- Failure to comply with statutory warranties
- Building code violations
- Government specifications and plans
- Manufacturer’s installation instructions
Parking and Amenities Suspension
A new law reducing the percentage of eligible condo association votes from 80% (and in some places 100%) to 60% to approve an amendment to the condo declaration for the suspension of certain amenity usage. This suspension could apply to owners whose assessment payments are delinquent more than 60 days. Simply put, the new law makes it easier for condo associations to motivate owners to pay late assessment fees by suspending their use of certain amenities, like common area parking and other community facilities. This new law will take effect on October 1, 2018.
Discriminatory Language Removal
By September 30, 2019, all HOA boards must remove any restrictions related to race, religion or national origin from common area deeds and declarations. Deletion can begin on October 1, 2018, and do not require homeowner approval.
Electric and Gas Meter Changes for New Multi-Family Units
According to the Thomas Schild Law Group, LLC, blog, “The Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) will no longer be able to authorize new gas or electric service for leased or owned multi-family residential properties unless there are individual meters or submeters. The PSC must also study the feasibility of transitioning master meters for gas or electric service to energy allocation systems or submeters in apartment buildings, condominiums and housing co-operatives, and report its findings to the Maryland General Assembly by January 15, 2019 (HB 1491).”
This means that new multi-family units can no longer install master meters and instead will need to create individual meters to monitor each individual unit in the building.
Maryland legislators will get back to work on January 9, 2019 when their next legislative session begins. Be sure to stay tuned to the Comsource blog for regular updates on issues that could impact your community, your board and your association’s roles and responsibilities.
For additional tips and insights on legal issues facing HOA and condo associations, check out the following Comsource blog posts:
- How HOAs Should Manage Legal Losses
- Key Steps HOA Boards Must Take When Sued
- How HOA Boards Should Handle Disputes to Avoid the Courtroom
You can also check out a synopsis of legal matter advice for associations by downloading our Community Association Guide to Legal Disputes here.
A skilled and experienced community management company like Comsource can help HOA/condo association boards stay on top of the ever-changing legal regulation landscape of HOA and condo association communities. We’re here to provide you with resources and guidance, and professional services with integrity when you’re ready.