SPECIAL CLIENT LETTER
May 1, 2018
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA LEGISLATIVE UPDATE 2018
Brian R. Fellner, Esq.
As we noted last year, the Council for the District of Columbia revised the DC Condominium Act substantially in a few important ways. This legislative season, the Council has considered three additional bills that, if passed, will impact condominiums and other common ownership communities within the District.
Solar Expansion for Cooperative Associations Act:
The first bill relevant to common ownership communities is the Solar Expansion for Cooperative Associations Act. This legislation restricts a housing association from prohibiting the installation of or use of a solar energy collection device on the member’s residential unit, or on a common element roof if such roof serves only a single unit. The bill does, however, allow a community association to prohibit the installation of a solar energy collection device on the common elements, other than on a roof serving a single unit, as well as on the common areas. Further, associations are authorized to adopt reasonable guidelines, other than aesthetic guidelines, governing the installation and/or use of a solar energy collection device, such as solar panels. This bill has made it through a final reading and is likely to become law later in 2018. It represents a compromise and balance between the interests of communities to establish rules over common elements/common areas and the rights of individual owners to utilize the ever-more-popular solar energy options.
Pools Without Penalties Act:
The second bill to be aware of was recently passed by the Council, via final vote, is the Pools Without Penalties Act. As of the date of this special client letter, this bill is now awaiting approval by the Mayor. This Act accomplishes several things, including:
· establishing standards regulating the presence of lifeguards at semi-public swimming pools,
· exempting an operator of a semi-public swimming pool from the requirement to provide showers, toilets, or dressing rooms, where use of the pool is restricted to residents and guests, and the pool is located within 300 feet of a dwelling unit, and
· exempting cooperatives, condominiums, and apartment buildings operating semi-public swimming pools from certain requirements.
Specifically, under this Act, a cooperative, condominium, or apartment building operating a Class C, semi-public swimming pool shall not be required to provide:
· A swimming pool operator pursuant to Municipal Regulation 25-C DCMR § 300.1;
· Water quality and safety logs pursuant to Municipal Regulation 25-C DCMR § 412;
· New construction of, or alterations to, a swimming pool beyond those required by the Americans with Disabilities Act;
· A fence around a rooftop swimming pool;
· A safety line pursuant to Municipal Regulation 25-C DCMR § 505.4; or
· A facility license pursuant to Municipal Regulation 25-C DCMR § 700.1.
Prior to this Act, the byzantine code requirements of operating any semi-public pool were binding on condominiums and cooperatives, and they acted as punishment for even having a pool. This Act is a common-sense reaction by the Council to the many regulations that were binding upon community pools and acting as “penalties” to well-meaning communities. By reducing these overbearing requirements, the Council has made it easier and less costly for communities to offer this much sought-after amenity.
Office of Administrative Hearings Jurisdiction Expansion Amendment of 2018:
Third and finally, the Office of Administrative Hearings Jurisdiction Expansion Amendment of 2018 grants the Office of Administrative Hearings jurisdiction over certain matters involving condominiums, specifically:
· The rejection of condominium registration applications and public offering statements pursuant to DC Code § 42-1904.06(c);
· Temporary cease and desist orders from unlawful practices pursuant to DC Code § 42-1904.14;
· The revocation of condominium registrations pursuant to DC Code § 42-1904.15; and
· Structural defect warranty claims pursuant to DC Code § 42-1903.16
This bill has also passed final vote in the Council and is awaiting approval by the Mayor as of the date of this special client letter. If approved, this law will streamline and accelerate the disputes covered by the Sections of the DC Code noted above by allowing parties to proceed through the administrative hearing process which is less costly and time-consuming than litigation.
In addition to these three significant pieces of legislation, the DC Council continues to consider the possibility of property manager licensing. A pending statute, if adopted, will impose new licensing requirements on common interest community managers. As presently drafted, the new statute requires individual licensure and will task the Real Estate Commission with regulating licensing, setting the training and examination requirements, and other oversight. We will continue to monitor the status of this pending legislation as it develops.
Please do not hesitate to contact our office if you have any questions about pending or current legislation in the District of Columbia that may impact your community.