New Advisory Council Could Impact How Condo Owners, Associations Resolve Conflicts
On April 7, 2017, the Condominium Owner Bill of Rights and Responsibilities Amendment Act of 2016 went into effect, changing the District of Columbia Condominium Act in three key ways.
First, the amendment establishes a new 14-member Condominium Association Advisory Council (CAAC) to “serve as an advisory board to the mayor, the council, and District agencies on matters relating to condominiums located in the District.”
The magnitude of the CAAC’s impact on developing laws and procedures applicable to condominium associations remains to be seen. For example, it is unclear whether and to what extent the CAAC will serve as a forum where unit owners and the association can discuss and attempt to resolve particular matters.
It behooves community associations and their attorneys to monitor the CAAC to see whether the CAAC may help to promote the objectives of community associations in DC. The CAAC will hold meetings at least four times a year and the meetings will be open to the public. The CAAC will have a website on which it will post its meeting notices and minutes.
Second, the amendment creates a document called “The Condominium Association Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.” It is important to understand that the Bill of Rights creates no new legal obligations — it merely lists certain rights already held by unit owners under the existing law.
That said, the new bill of rights is meaningful because it contains the key rights of unit owners by way of the condominium association in one relatively easy-to-read document. In addition, the amendment requires condominium developers to furnish a copy of the bill of rights to purchasers of condominium units, and requires the DC Department of Housing and Community Development to disseminate the bill of rights on its website.
Third, the amendment requires that two additional notices be sent in the context of collections: a Notice of Intention to Take Legal Action, and a Notice of Foreclosure Sale of Condominium Unit for Assessments Due.
The former notice must be sent when an association, its manager, or its attorney advises a unit owner of the intention to take legal action to collect any past due amount owned by the unit owner. Among other things, that notice must include a statement of the account showing the breakdown of the categories of amounts claimed to be due and the dates those amounts accrued, as well as specific statutorily-mandated language regarding resources that may be available to a unit owner.
The latter notice of foreclosure must contain similar information, as well as a statement of whether the foreclosure sale is for the six-month priority lien and subject to the first deed of trust, and a notification that, if the past due amount being foreclosed upon in not paid within 31 days after the date the notice is mailed, the executive board shall sell the unit at a public sale at the time, place and dated stated in the notice. No foreclosure sale of a condominium unit may be held in DC until at least 31 days after a notice of foreclosure is recorded in the land records, sent to a unit owner, and mailed to the mayor or the mayor’s designated agent, all junior lien holders of record, and any holder of a first deed of trust or first mortgage of record.
Due to these new notice requirements, condominium associations will need to modify their existing collection protocols, even if foreclosure is not immediately contemplated, using counsel for assistance as necessary.
Shirley Steinbach is a community associations attorney who represents homeowners associations, condominiums, and co-operatives throughout the Washington, DC region, and a commercial litigator. For more information on the CAAC and other issues related to the new condominium owner bill of rights, contact Shirley at (301) 657-0172 or firstname.lastname@example.org.