Common-interest communities are the fastest growing form of housing in the United States today. The number of homeowner’s associations (HOAs) in the United States skyrocketed from about 10,000 in 1970 to 351,000 HOAs in 2019, with roughly 8,000 new HOAs forming each year. Planned-unit developments of single-family HOAs and cooperative apartments governed by condominium associations currently house over 100 million Americans, making it an almost $100 billion-dollar annual industry. However, despite these numbers, more than 70% of all community associations nationwide are managed by untrained volunteers.
Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig’s Community Association team have represented individual homeowners, as well as community associations and community association management in numerous territories across the United States. We assist community, condo, and homeowner associations and association members in matters including but not limited to:
- Issues related to enforcement of rules, regulations, and architectural guidelines
- Fines, fees, penalties, and assessments
- Homeowner’s association and condominium association rules
- Hearings before a Board of Directors
- Use and allocation of common areas
- Establishing and operating a Board of Directors
- Personal injury and premises liability claims
- Construction disputes
- Compliance issues
- Conflicts of interest
- Ultra vires actions and fiduciary duties
Our Community Association team has made great legal strides for families dwelling within HOA communities. For example, our legal team was responsible for a groundbreaking decision by the Virginia Supreme Court that clarified an ambiguous provision of the Virginia Property Owners’ Association Act and clarified that aggrieved homeowners can recover their legal fees in disputes with a community association, resulting hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees being awarded to our clients.
While we have the experience and know-how to take even the most complicated community association dispute through trial, we also understand the uniqueness of these disputes as they directly impact clients’ homes and neighbors. Therefore, we strive to approach these disputes differently than other types of lawsuits. We bring our considerable experience and unparalleled perspective to the table through all stages of the dispute resolution process, from the initial case evaluation to the settlement efforts, and ultimately the trial.
Some representative matters include:
- Manchester Oaks v. Batt: Successfully litigated despite over the unequal allocation of common area parking spaces, confirming that common area elements must be allocated equally and clarifying Virginia law on the right of homeowners to recover their legal fees.
- Litigated a challenge to the validity of an HOA under Virginia law.
- Successfully negotiated condominium dispute involving water leakage via common elements.
- Optimal settlement resolving litigation over discriminatory enforcement of rules and regulations.
- Resolved dispute about HOA Board conflicts of interest resulting in appointment of replacement Board.
- Assisted HOA Board with legal compliance issues.
- Revised HOA governing documents to track with new developments in the law.
- Litigation and successful settlement of DC HOA dispute regarding embezzlement and mismanagement of association.
- Virginia Condominium Act
This chapter applies to all condominiums and to all horizontal property regimes or condominium projects.
- Virginia Property Owners’ Association Act
This chapter applies to developments subject to a declaration initially recorded after January 1, 1959, associations incorporated or otherwise organized after such date, and all subdivisions created under the Subdivided Land Sales Act.
- Virginia Circuit Courts
These courts have jurisdiction over most HOA and condominium disputes in the commonwealth of Virginia. There is a circuit court in each city and county in Virginia. Jurisdiction generally lies in the city or county where the association is located, such as Loudoun, Fairfax, Arlington, Falls Church City, Vienna, Fauquier, Prince William, Alexandria, Henrico, Chesterfield, Richmond, Goochland, Stafford, and Rappahannock.
- Virginia Office of the Common Interest Community Ombudsman
The Office of the Common Interest Community Ombudsman offers assistance and information to association members regarding the rights and processes available to them through their associations.
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