This month in Collections Corner, we will return to an issue we first addressed in our December 2017 Newsletter - reporting delinquent homeowners Community Association debt to the credit bureaus (enclosed). To briefly recap the contents of that letter, our office became aware of a company advertising services to report delinquent homeowners on behalf of a community association. Our office conducted research and identified a few issues that lead us to recommend not reporting delinquent homeowners. For example, federal laws for credit reporting impose investigation obligations on the creditor who provides the information, opening new avenues for delinquent homeowners to sue a community association. Additionally, we are not swayed that reporting delinquent homeowners actually increases the efficiency of collections.
Over the years, many clients have asked our office to provide guidance concerning homeowners' requests for reasonable modifications and/or accommodations under the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (the "FHAA"). And, more recently, as you may have seen in the news, there is a significant increase in the use of emotional support animals ("ESAs") to assist people with managing their disabilities which has left many of our clients wondering how to comply with the law while still enforcing pet policies and other related covenants and rules.
If someone you love recently died in an accident, Maryland’s wrongful death statute can help hold the parties at fault responsible. This statute allows for spouses, parents, children and other family members to receive compensation for their loss.
Dear Board Members and Managers:
I hope that you are enjoying the Fall and the changing colors of the leaves and had a fun Halloween! We are officially at the beginning of the holiday season which we know is a very busy and exciting time for everyone. During this season of celebrations, we want to take a moment to welcome the newest member of our team. Jason N. Greenberg, Esq., joined Nagle & Zaller as an associate attorney and he will be the managing attorney overseeing our collections department.
Car accidents occur all the time, whether mild or severe. However, when the accident is severe, catastrophic injuries are likely to occur. Spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries are the two main types of catastrophic injuries that result from car crashes.
According to reports, there are around 17,000 spinal cord injuries each year. There were nearly three million emergency room visits in 2013 related to traumatic brain injuries. These injuries are catastrophic because of the life-long impact they can have on the victim.
This month we are highlighting the process of filing a lawsuit to obtain a judgment against a delinquent homeowner. After a lien is filed, we generally send a lien notification letter to the delinquent homeowner advising him or her that a lien has been filed against the property and; further, if he or she fails to remit payment in full or contact our office to negotiate an agreeable payment arrangement, we will proceed with filing of lawsuit to obtain a judgment against the person, which is in addition to the lien against the property. Lawsuits of this nature are typically filed in the District Court (as long as the principal amount sought is under $30,000.00. If the amount sought is $30,000.00 or over then the lawsuit must be filed in Circuit Court). Further, we file the complaint under affidavit which means the accounting is signed under oath by the custodian of records for the Community, i.e., generally the management company.
Once a lawsuit is filed with the Court against the current or prior owner (hereinafter referred to collectively as "owner"), the owner must be personally served with the summons and complaint. Service can sometimes take time to complete if the owner evades service. After being served, however, we often see an increase in the communication between the delinquent homeowner and our office which allows us to work out payment terms and avoid a costly trial for the Community.
This is a busy time of year for Board Members and Property Managers, as many are working n their budgets for next year. We have a few tips to guide you through this process.
Maryland Clients - Please do not forget to comply with the laws regarding the adoption of your budget. As such, your Board should prepare and submit an annual proposed budget to all owners within your community thirty (30) days before the budget is adopted. The proposed budget must include your community's income and contain line items for administrative costs, maintenance costs, utilities, general expenses, reserves and capital expenses. The budget must be adopted at an open meeting. The proposed budget and notice of the open meeting to discuss the budget may be sent to each owner by electronic transmission, posting the notice on the home page of the community's website, or via newsletter. If the community is a homeowners association, notification by electronic means to all owners regarding the budget is specifically authorized by the Maryland Homeowners Association Act. If the community is a condominium, notice by electronic means would be permitted to those owners who have opted-in to receive communication electronically.
We have been asked on numerous occasions recently to give guidance to our community association clients about disputes that arise with and between their members. Communities throughout Maryland, and across the country, grapple with these questions every day. Resolving disputes within a community association can be one of the most daunting tasks facing members of the Board of Directors or property managers. It can be a confusing process to the lay person and oftentimes is not as cut and dry as we legal practitioners would like. How a Board or property manager handles the first steps toward enforcement of a community's governing documents and dispute resolution can mean the difference between a functioning community and a dysfunctional one, between upholding and protecting the covenants, which in turn protect property values, and selective enforcement and losing the right to enforce. But what, exactly, do you do?
Most people don’t think of a simple slip when they picture a serious injury. Nevertheless, the slip-and-fall accident is one of the most common ways a person can find themselves in the hospital.
When the slip and fall is the result of another party’s negligence, it becomes a more serious issue. The fact that you are now injured is their responsibility. This was the situation recently when a man in Fort Lauderdale, Florida slipped and fell on a banana peel while at Walmart.
On May 8, 2018, Brian Fellner, Esq. and Craig Zaller attended the CAI Advocacy Summit in Washington D.C., along with approximately 50 other CAI Members from across the Country. At the Summit, CAI representatives met with various politicians and/or their Legislative Correspondents to address three issues that affect our communities at the federal level.