District of Columbia Legislative Update

HOA and Condominium Law Washington DC

2017 Legislative Update

The District of Columbia Condominium Act has been amended to require new notices and information be provided to condominium purchasers and unit owners. The new law, known as the Condominium Owner Bill of Rights and Responsibilities Amendment Act of 2016, took effect April 7, 2017.

Delinquent Assessments. When a condominium advises an owner of its intention to take legal action to collect any past due amount owed by the unit owner, the owner must be provided with a statement of account showing the total amount past due, including a breakdown of the categories of amounts claimed to be due and the dates those amounts accrued.

The notice of delinquent assessments must also include contact information for the condominium so the owner knows who to contact to settle the past due amount.  Additionally, the owner must be informed of resources which the owner may utilize at the District of Columbia Department of Housing and Community Development and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

Purchaser Notice.  The new law also requires a Washington, D.C. condominium developer to provide each purchaser with the recorded condominium declaration and bylaws and information about the rights and responsibilities of condo unit owner under the Condominium Act.    Among these rights are the right to attend most board meetings,  the right of access to association books and records, and the right to cure a default in payment of assessments prior to foreclosure.

Advisory Council. The Condominium Act amendments also establish a Condominium Association Advisory Council to advise the Washington, D.C. government on matters relating to condominiums in the District of Columbia.



2014 Legislative Update

In 2014, the most sweeping changes in the District of Columbia Condominium Act since 1977 were enacted and became effective as of June 21, 2014.

The District of Columbia Condominium Amendment Act of 2014 (D.C. Act 20-308) significantly impacts the governance of all District condominium associations.  The new law includes provisions concerning meetings of the board of directors, unit owner access to books and records, insurance, collection of assessments, leasing of units, maintenance and repair, and other topics regarding the management and operation of condominiums. 

Board Decision Making.  Decisions of the board of directors will be given greater deference under the "business judgment" rul where board action is challenged in court.  This statutory standard replaces the "reasonableness" standard which has been applied by the District of Columbia courts.  

Open Board Meetings.  Meetings of the board of directors and committees must be open for observation by all unit owners, except as otherwise provided in the condominium governing documents of the Condominium Act. The new law allows closed meetings for reasons such as personnel matters, contracts in negotiation, consultation with legal counsel and other specified reasons. 

Additionally, a closed meeting cn be held with the approval of two-thirds of the directors for any "exceptional reason so compelling"  as to override the general public policy in favor of open meetings. And, the board can take action by unanimous written consent without a meeting.

Email Notice and Proxy Votes.  The new law establishes guidelines for allowing meeting notice and proxy votes by email or other electronic means.

Access to Records.  Books and records must generally be made available for inspection and copying by unit owners. Certain records may be withheld from inspection, including individual unit owner files.

Leasing Restrictions.  New statutory authority is granted to allow the board of directors to reasonably restrict leasing of residential units.  However, such restriction may not apply to any unit leased at the time the restriction is adopted and continuing until the unit is subsequently occupied by the unit owner or ownership transfers.

Insurance.  Unit owners will now be required to obtain individual unit owner's insurance with a minimum of $10,000 for property damage and $300,000 for personal liability.  Unless the condominium bylaws provide otherwise, a unit owner will be responsible for up to $5,000 of the association property insurance deductible where the cause of the damage originates in that owner's unit.

Maintenance and Repair.  Where the association maintains, repairs or replaces limited common elements which affect only a limited number of units, the new law provides that the board may assess the cost to the affected unit owners.

Collection of Assessments.  Where the condominium governing documents allow for interest, late fees, attorney fees and collection costs to be charged to a delinquent unit owner, the new law provides that such charges may be included in the statutory lien for assessments.

Other charges clarify the assessment lien six-month priority over the mortgage and the authority to convey a unit after a foreclosure sale to enforce the assessment lien.

Amendments to Condominium Governing Documents.  Where lender approval of amendments to the condominium declaration or bylaws is required, a new statutory presumption is established so the lender is deemed to have approved the amendment if it does not object in writing within 60 days of receiving notice of the amendment.

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