The spring construction season is nearly here! Whether your project plans are small or large, your contract can cause big headaches if you leave out an essential section. You should always have your contracts reviewed by an attorney, but use this checklist as a guide when you interview contractors or builders to make sure you are working with an honest and ethical professional. The Parties – Make sure you have the correct names of all of the persons entering into the contract. Check the North Carolina Secretary of States Corporations Division to find out whether your contractor is incorporated, and use the business name listed on their Articles of Incorporation. If your contractor is not incorporated (or their corporation has
Did you know that everything you ever needed to know about consumer insurance is available for free from the North Carolina Department of Insurance? These guides are an invaluable resource for anyone who either owns a home or is thinking about owning a home in North Carolina. Check out the “Consumer Guide to Homeowner’s Insurance” to get an exhaustive overview of what your policy will and will not cover.
Have you ever tried to read your insurance policy? Probably not! Insurance policies are filled with arcane language which is difficult to read, and are very technical in nature. Most homeowners do not read their homeowner’s policy until they need to make a claim, but by then it may be too late to fill a gap in your coverage. Here are several of the most common gaps we see, and why they could be crucial to protecting your family and your home. Natural Disasters – Standard homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover earthquake, landslides, or flood damage. Western North Carolina has experienced numerous landslides in the past five years, and we live along a fault line that produces occasional mild
Amendments to declarations resulting from a membership vote should be properly recorded in the office of the Register of Deeds to give notice of the amendment. The document should recite: the date of the meeting, the total number of lots subject to the declarations, the number of lots present at the meeting or represented by proxy, and the number of affirmative votes in favor of the amendment to show that the amendment met the requirements of the Planned Community Act and the declarations. It also should be signed by the President and attested by the Secretary of the association. Preparation of the amendment and proper recording by one of our attorneys is inexpensive, and is the best way to have
Some subdivisions have lots that do not front on subdivision roads and the owners do not use subdivision roads for access to and from their lot. Occasionally we are asked if those lots are required to pay assessments, since they do not use subdivision roads. In one recent appeal that we handled, Tater Patch Estates Homeowners Association v. Sutton, COA 16-787 (2017), the North Carolina Court of Appeals held that language in the declarations requiring all lots owners to pay a pro rata share of the maintenance of the subdivision roads indicated the intent of the developers to require all lot owners to pay for road maintenance. That decision means that if your declarations state all lots must pay assessments
Where a purchaser of a lot in a planned community obtains title to the lot as a result of foreclosure of a first mortgage or first deed of trust, the purchaser is not liable for the assessments against the lot which became due prior to the acquisition of the lot by the purchaser. The unpaid assessments are deemed to be common expenses collectible from all the lot owners, including the purchaser. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 47F-3-116(j).
Did you know that you can buy affordable no-fault coverage for medical expenses through your auto insurer? Medical payments coverage (a/k/a “medpay”) provides money for medical expenses if you are injured in a car wreck regardless of who was at fault. Insurance agents encourage customers to purchase $1,000 in coverage with most comprehensive policies, but you can add more coverage as necessary based on your family’s financial situation. Your driving history, as with all aspects of auto insurance, impacts how much medpay will cost.
Check the Secretary of State’s website wherever your business is domiciled and make sure your business’s address and registered agent’s information are correct. Here’s a link to the North Carolina Secretary of State’s corporations division search page. If your business structure or bylaws require an annual shareholders or members meeting, go ahead and schedule it now. Are you required to elect new officers? Schedule a nominations period and elections to coincide with your annual meeting. Schedule a meeting with your insurance agent to review your insurance coverage. Make a point to inquire about cyber liability insurance. Hackers do not limit themselves to Target and Yahoo. Small businesses constitute a large chunk (30%) of the businesses hacked each year. Your customers’ information is valuable
Knowing the difference can avoid problems! One of the most common situations we face is an Association thinking that it can use amendments to the bylaws to change the declarations (also known as the “covenants”). In western North Carolina this mistake is compounded by recording bylaws with the Register of Deeds. Bylaws and declarations serve two different purposes and amending the bylaws of your Association DOES NOT change your declarations. Bylaws should be used primarily as internal operating rules for your Association – including information regarding election procedures, board and member meetings, and similar information. As an internal document, they should not be recorded with the Register of Deeds as this may inadvertently create uncertainty as to your declarations. Declarations
A recurring problem we see in restricted communities arises when lots are combined. Declarations often permit combination of lots without discussing how the combination will effect assessments. Lot owners and/or associations often assume that language in the declarations permitting combination of lots also permits the owner of the combined lots to pay one assessment. Under current law, that assumption is not correct. The North Carolina Court of Appeals held in Clarement Property Owners Association v. Gilboy that in the absence of declaration provisions specifically permitting the reduction of assessments when lots are combined, the owner of the combined lots must continue to pay assessments as if the lots were not combined. While the decision involved a community that was not