Common Interest Communities & Management
Our attorneys are among the leaders in Virginia in the representation of Common Interest Communities. These communities are generally referred to as "homeowners associations," or "HOAs," and "condominium associations." In the greater Williamsburg area alone, we provide legal assistance to nearly 100 associations.
We are well-versed in all aspects of association representation including drafting governing documents and amendments, interpreting the governing documents, transitioning from developer to homeowner control of the board, helping boards interpret and enforce covenants and rules, collecting assessments, and litigating disputes. A key component of our representation is that we provide training to incoming board members of our association clients at no additional expense to the association, and we provide additional training opportunities each year.
More and more of our residential communities are subject to a declaration of covenants and restrictions. Our vast experience has taught us that volunteer board members get involved to help their community, but are quickly overwhelmed by their wide-ranging responsibilities. That's why we suggest early guidance from our attorneys to help board members understand their obligations and balance their business obligations with a sense of community. However, when difficult decisions must be made, we will be there to help boards develop a strategy to ensure compliance with the governing documents.
Contact us if you would like more information. Below you will find answers to some of your questions regarding common interest communities. You can find additional information in our Law Library and our Blog.
Our association is still controlled by the developer, when will we, the homeowners, be in control?
When control of a common interest community passes from the developer to the community's homeowners, the process is commonly called "transition." Typically, the declaration of covenants and restrictions, which is recorded in the land records, sets forth the formula to determine when transition will occur. For example, a declaration may set forth that transition shall occur when 75% of the total number of lots in the community are deeded to owners other than the "Declarant." Generally, the homeowners should get involved early to assure that a transition plan is put in place. This transition process can be very challenging for the incoming board. Therefore, our representation focuses on providing early transition counsel to transition committee members or incoming boards so that by the time turnover occurs, the new homeowner board is immediately ready to govern.
As an association board member, what should be my primary areas of concern?
Common interest communities are governed by a board. The primary focus for a board is to make sure that the association acts in accordance with its governing documents and applicable law. Each board member has a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interest of the association. That simple guidance seems easy enough, but as it happens, issues arise that make it difficult for a board member to determine exactly what the governing documents require. We provide assistance to boards so that decisions are made with clear, common sense analysis based upon the governing documents, the law, and our experience. This approach helps keep communities in harmony and away from legal conflict.
Do we need a management company to help us manage our association's business?How do we choose one?
Board members have a tremendous amount of responsibility in governing an association. Not only does the board enforce the governing documents, rules, and regulations, but the board has fiscal responsibility for the association. This responsibility includes policies for assessment collection and enforcement, maintenance contracts, repair contracts, and other responsibilities. Depending upon the size of the association, a management company is a great benefit to an association. Virginia management companies must now be licensed and certified before they can act as managers for common interest communities. Therefore, when looking for a management company, boards must determine whether the company meets the minimum requirements of the Virginia statutes. We have worked with all of the major management companies in our area, and with many of the smaller management companies. Our attorneys provide associations with experienced assistance, including referrals and contract negotiations, when you decide to choose or change your management company.