Condominium Unit Owner Bill of Rights Legislation
Legislation to amend the D.C. Condominium Act, D.C. Act 21-657, (the “Act”) has been approved by the D.C. Council, signed by the Mayor and is awaiting the end of the mandatory congressional review period. The legislation is currently expected to go into effect on April 7, 2017.
The legislation has three main features: 1) it creates a 14-member condominium advisory council consisting of appointees from each Ward as well as certain industry professionals and representatives of D.C. government agencies, to provide a sounding board on matters related to condominiums in the District of Columbia; 2) it creates a Condominium Unit Owner’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities – basically a restatement of rights and obligations already articulated in the Act and requires that this summary be provided by declarants to new condominium unit owners and that it be posted on the DHCD website; and 3) amends the foreclosure notice provisions of the act to require condominium associations to provide certain disclosures before undertaking foreclosures.
The first two of the provisions of this statute are expected to have minimal impact on the day to day operations of condominium associations in the District of Columbia. However, the third requirement will affect every condominium association in the District of Columbia and all associations should review their collections policies and procedures to make sure that they are in compliance with this new provision of the Act.
Compliance with this provision is not complicated, but it is important. It will primarily affect the Association’s attorneys, who routinely send notice to delinquent unit owners of impending legal action. However, the requirement also applies to Associations and their management companies to the extent that they send notice to delinquent unit owners of the intention to take legal action regarding those delinquent assessments accounts.
A notice, substantially identical to the attached notice, must be enclosed with any notice “of intention to take legal action.” The attached includes the required language, directly taken from the statute and in the font size required by the statute. It may be copied verbatim and included as an insert, without any further information.
It should be noted that this is NOT required to be included in routine late notices or reminder notices regarding delinquent assessments. However, if the final notice sent by management or the Board of an Association includes a reference regarding the intent to send the account to counsel or otherwise take legal action, then the notice should be included. Naturally, all notices sent by counsel, by management, or by the Board that refer to foreclosure or any type of legal action must include this notice.
In addition to the foregoing requirement, at the point that notice is sent to a unit owner of the Association’s intent to foreclose, this enclosure must be provided again at that time.
Additional requirements apply to foreclosure notices. They must be sent to all lienholders of record. They must also include certain information that was not previously required: they must state the past due amount being foreclosed upon; must expressly state whether the foreclosure is a 6-month priority lien foreclosure or a foreclosure sale of the assessments, subject to the first trust; must advise that the sale will take place at a date that is at least 31 days from the date of the notice if full payment of the amount being foreclosed upon is not received prior to the sale date. All foreclosures will have to include a statement of account with a breakdown of the amounts owed. If the amount set forth in the notice is NOT the total amount due, the notice must include instructions on how the unit owner may request a full account statement.
One good development is that notices related to foreclosure no longer have to be sent by certified mail. They now need to be sent by a delivery method that provides tracking. They also must be sent to all lienholders of record however, this has been standard practice for some time.
In summary, the Act has important new requirements that must be followed by condominium association boards, their management companies and attorneys. Questions regarding these requirements may be directed to Jane Saindon Rogers at email@example.com. Furthermore, information will be made available to managers at briefings to be held on April 17th and April 25th.