Homeowners associations should remain aware of the different laws that govern them, be it federal, state, or local. Similar to a lot of other states, West Virginia has its own statutes that apply to HOAs. Here are the different West Virginia HOA laws you should know about.
Why You Should Know Your West Virginia HOA Laws
Just like other organizations, homeowners associations must follow the laws in their state. But, why exactly is it important to do so? The answer is simple — to avoid liabilities and penalties. When homeowners associations go against federal and state laws, they can face dire consequences. They may be on the receiving end of a lawsuit. More often than not, breaking the law will result in monetary damages, too.
Because laws change over time and can be difficult to understand, homeowners associations often need to turn to professional assistance. There are many attorneys well-versed in HOA law, and it is best to consult with one when you make decisions with legal implications.
So, what are the different statutes in West Virginia that homeowners associations should know?
For Common Interest Communities
The West Virginia Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act regulates the creation, powers, operation, and management of all common interest communities formed after July 1, 1986, in the state. This includes planned communities, condominiums, and real estate cooperatives.
Additionally, this Act, found under Chapter 36B of the West Virginia Code, consists of four articles. These are as follows:
- Article 1. General Provisions.
- Article 2. Creation, Alteration and Termination of Common Interest Communities.
- Article 3. Management of the Common Interest Community.
- Article 4. Protection of Purchasers.
The West Virginia Unit Property Act regulates the creation, powers, operation, and management of condominiums that explicitly choose to follow the Act. Condominiums must record the decision within their declarations and file it with the county recording office.
Additionally, this Act, found under Chapter 36A of the West Virginia Code, consists of eight articles. These are as follows:
- Article 1. Preliminary Provisions.
- Article 2. General Provisions.
- Article 3. Administrative Provisions.
- Article 4. Declarations, Conveyances, Mortgages and Leases.
- Article 5. Recording.
- Article 6. Removal of Property from Provisions of Chapter; Resubmission.
- Article 7. Assessments, Taxation and Liens.
- Article 8. Miscellaneous.
For Nonprofit Corporations
In West Virginia, most homeowners associations are organized as nonprofit corporations. Therefore, they must follow the West Virginia Nonprofit Corporation Act, specifically when it comes to the corporate procedure and structure of the association.
Additionally, this Act, found under Chapter 31E of the West Virginia Code, consists of 16 articles. These are as follows:
- Article 1. General Provisions.
- Article 2. Incorporation.
- Article 3. Purposes And Powers.
- Article 4. Name.
- Article 5. Office And Agent.
- Article 6. Members – Membership Rights And Liabilities.
- Article 7. Members – Meetings And Voting.
- Article 8. Directors And Officers.
- Article 9. Reserved.
- Article 10. Amendment Of Articles Of Incorporation And Bylaws.
- Article 11. Mergers.
- Article 12. Disposition Of Assets.
- Article 13. Dissolution.
- Article 14. Foreign Corporations.
- Article 15. Records And Reports.
- Article 16. Transition Provisions.
Fair Housing HOA Laws in West Virginia
As with many other states, West Virginia has its own fair housing laws that apply to homeowners associations as well. The West Virginia Fair Housing Act, found under Chapter 4, Article 11A of the West Virginia Code, prevents housing discrimination based on a person’s race, color, ancestry, national origin, sex, religion, familial status, disability, and blindness.
The Act works similarly to the federal Fair Housing Act as well as the Americans With Disabilities Act when it comes to reasonable accommodations and service animals. Additionally, it grants equal housing opportunities to all West Virginia citizens.
Any victims of housing discrimination can file a report with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or with the West Virginia Human Rights Commission. As an alternative, victims can also choose to privately sue the offender in state or federal court.
West Virginia HOA Laws on Fair Debt Collection
The West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act protects consumers from unfair, deceptive, or abusive debt collection practices. This Act, found under Chapter 46A of the West Virginia Code, governs debt collectors at the state level and provides similar regulations as the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Understanding Specific West Virginia HOA Laws
It is easy to refer to these statutes for guidance when you need to clarify something. But, some topics come up more often in HOA communities.
Just like many other homeowners associations, the ones in West Virginia must maintain records. This includes annual and board meeting minutes, membership lists, and even accounting and financial statements. Additionally, the HOA board must make these records available for inspection to all members. This is according to Section 36B-3-118 under the Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act as well as Section 31E-15-1502 of the Nonprofit Corporation Act.
Approval of Amendments
Homeowners associations will need to amend their governing documents every so often. Typically, boards do this to update an existing covenant or add a new one. However, pursuant to Section 36B-2-117, any amendments to the declaration must receive approval from 67 percent of the homeowners.
Solar Energy Devices
Homeowners will sometimes want to install solar energy devices on the roofs of their homes. But, there are associations that prohibit such installations. This is usually to maintain the uniform look of the neighborhood. After all, some associations consider such devices as eyesores.
In West Virginia, though, homeowners associations can’t forbid members from using solar energy devices. According to Section 36-4-19 of the West Virginia Code, restrictions that prohibit homeowners from installing or using solar energy systems are considered unenforceable.
It is not uncommon for homeowners associations to have surplus funds at the end of the year. If your governing documents don’t outline what you must do with these funds, Section 36B-3-114 does. Under this section, associations should return the surplus funds according to their common expense liabilities. Alternatively, associations can also credit the funds to lower the following year’s HOA dues contribution per member.
Protect Your Homeowners Association
Homeowners associations receive no special treatment when it comes to the law, whether it is on a federal or state level. Specifically, in West Virginia, there are a handful of statutes that association boards must familiarize themselves with. And knowing these West Virginia HOA laws will save you a lot of trouble and liability.
Not everyone, though, has the time or expertise to understand the various laws that apply to associations. Therefore, the help of an experienced professional is necessary. Elite Management Services offers legal assistance in addition to a variety of other HOA management solutions. Call us today at (855) 238-8488 or contact us online to request a free proposal.