family in front of house

Petersen's "Homeowners' Bill of Rights" (SB 1008)

Homeowners living in neighborhoods with overzealous homeowners’ associations may know how frustrating it is to deal with boards comprised of power-hungry and overzealous directors. Many common complaints we receive from our HOA clients have to do with paying fines and fees for benefits they don’t believe they’re actually receiving.

Sometimes, homeowners’ associations implement rules that are necessary and help benefit the entire neighborhood by increasing home values, regulating parking spaces in neighborhoods with limited parking, and helping homeowners avoid one-on-one confrontations – after all, we can all agree that it would be extremely uncomfortable and cumbersome to have to tell our neighbors to remove their eyesore trash bins when they leave them out, and we can have our HOAs enforce these necessary regulations.

Although these are common situations we can all agree will help the entire community, what about situations in which HOAs cite homeowners hefty fines for painting their awnings off-white, instead of “beige?” Taking into consideration the fact that most HOAs are run by well-meaning volunteers trying to accomplish the important tasks of running their associations for no money, sometimes, spending more time performing their civic duties to help homeowners in their neighborhoods reap the rewards of ownership within their communities, than at home, the Homeowners’ Bill of Rights may be the answer we need.

Top Five Things HOAs and Homeowners Living in Homeowners Associations Need to Know About SB 1008:

  1. Also known as the Homeowners Bill of Rights, SB 1008 was signed into Virginia law in March of 2015.
  2. SB 1008 applies to both homeowners associations (HOAs) and to condominium associations (COAs). Homeowners living in HOAs and COAs have a right to inspect their property associations’ records and books.
  3. A homeowner current in dues and assessments has a right to have notice of every HOA meeting and can record them.
  4. A homeowner has a right to be considered for election, and if elected, can serve, again, if current in dues and assessments.
  5. Homeowners have due process rights, including the right to have prior notice of any proceedings pending against them.

So what led to this drastic law? I’m sure we’ve all heard stories of homeowners fined unfairly for relatively minor “infractions” of their HOA bylaws or HOA covenants. In 2009, a story about a local Virginia military hero went viral and Retired U.S. Army Officer Van T. Barfoot became a small town hero when a Virginia HOA decided to fine him for daily patriotic ritual of raising and lowering the American flag displayed on a 21-foot flagpole. According to Sussex Square Community, the Purple Heart Medal of Honor Recipient’s flagpole constituted a violation of the HOAs architectural guidelines. After he requested permission to perform this ritual, the Board denied his request, defending its decision on the Veteran’s use of the flagpole – not the flag – as the offending object. Sadly, Officer Van T. Barfoot passed away shortly after the debacle started, but his legacy has served to become a main catalyst for this landmark change in Virginia property law.

What are your thoughts? We’d love to hear from you about any personal stories you can share regarding your Board.

Fairfax Real Estate Law and HOA Lawyer: If you’re looking for an experienced Virginia real estate lawyer and HOA attorney, contact Keithley Law, PLLC today by calling (703) 454-5147and schedule an initial consultation in our Fairfax law office.

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