Filtered by category: Legal Issues Clear Filter

Striving for Architectural Compliance

Architectural control sets the “bar,” if you will, or expectation of design and structural aesthetics within a community. Maintaining architectural control within a planned community is critical for everyone – Think about it: you have owners trying to sell their properties at the highest values, you have buyers that want to purchase a well-maintained home surrounded by equally well-maintained homes and common areas. You also have professionals for hire and volunteers (Community Managers, Legal Counsel, Business Partners, Board and Committee Members, etc.) that are needed to aid in the operation of a community. If you are someone from the aforementioned groups, would you want to sell, purchase, or work with a community that has lost sight of maintaining architectural control and compliance? Probably not.



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Making Your List and Checking It Twice: Holiday Party Checklist for Virginia Community Associations

Tis the season for community association holiday and year-end parties.  With such festive and fun-filled events, come certain responsibilities and measures community association should consider. Below is a list of suggested items that should be reviewed prior to an association-sanctioned or association-hosted holiday party. 

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Video Doorbells - A Blessing and a Curse

While video doorbells seem to be ‘all the rage’ lately, they bring about quite a few concerns related to privacy, especially in common interest communities. The balance is between one’s right to the latest technology securing their home for package deliveries, for example, with the reality of a camera and audio recorder capturing additional footage of one’s neighbors. It is important to review the governing documents in place in your community to determine if the installation of such devices are a violation, missing from the governing documents entirely, or a regulated addition.  

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What’s in Your Email? How to Secure Your Company’s Inboxes From Being Scammed

Security threats can attack a company from all angles. You might have a security guard at the door to keep out unwanted visitors. Perhaps you have security cameras to keep an eye on things when you are not around. You likely have an anti-virus software to prevent a technical attack. But what do you do when a scammer tries to trick one of your employees into giving up sensitive information through an email?

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Dealing with Tricky Tree Issues

Disputes can arise between owners and their association regarding who is responsible for maintenance or removal when once healthy trees in the community begin to show signs of death or disease, especially when the trees are located near homes or other structures.  Whether the association or owner is responsible (and could be held liable for damages which result if the tree, or a part thereof, encroaches on neighboring property or falls and causes injury or damage) will often depend on whose property the tree is located on, whether modifications or alterations have been made to the property, and what the association’s governing documents provide. 

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Security Cameras, Electronic Locks, and Security Officers - Are Condominium Associations Liable to Unit Owners for the Criminal Assaults of Third-Parties?

For many condominiums, a secure and safe premises is the polar opposite of a liability: it is a feature and selling point to bring new residents into the community and increase the property value of individual units. From the perspective of condominium association budgets, most condominium association boards can easily defend, to residents, reasonable expenses on security in the common elements. Most if not all residents understand the need for security measures on the premises whether that expense includes merely exterior lighting in parking lots or a whole security suite of protections from video cameras and swipe-card locks to gates and guards. 

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Expanded Jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals of Virginia Gives Civil Litigants A Right of Appeal

Community associations should take notice that Virginia recently became the final state to allow civil litigants a right to appeal a trial court final order.  

Under prior law, for most civil cases, appeal was not an automatic right. Instead, if a party wanted to appeal a final civil judgment from a circuit court, that party had to petition the Supreme Court of Virginia to take the appeal. A writ panel of three justices and/or senior justices would consider the request, and only grant the appeal if at least two justices on that panel agreed.  The appellee, or non-appealing party, had the option to file a brief in opposition to the petition, but did not have to do so.  The appellee did not present oral argument unless the writ panel accepted the case.  

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Shining A Light On Executive Session



Let the sunshine in.  I am not talking about the popular 1969 song by The 5th Dimension.  I am referring to the statutes governing Virginia community associations that require all meetings of a board of directors, including any subcommittee or other committee of the board of directors, where the business of the association is discussed or transacted, to be open to all owners of record[1]. These are known as “sunshine laws” and are the rule for community association meetings.  


As with most rules, there is an exception - executive session, during which it is permissible to “close” the door, so to speak.  Too often in our practice, we are reminded that the permitted reasons to convene in executive and procedure are not well understood. This article will uncharacteristically shine some light on executive session and examine what it is and how to do it correctly.


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Riparian Rights and Your Common Interest Community

Virginia is fortunate to have thousands of square miles of water and coastline. However, waterfront property is not unlimited. It is also in great demand because people value waterfront access rights and the pristine views that come with it. Waterfront property with a pier or dock brings great joy to the family that enjoys recreational boating.

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