May 18, 2015
Dear Managers and Clients:
Following is our Legislative Session Update. The following bills have been signed into law during the 2014 and 2015 Legislative Sessions. We hope you find this information of helpful.
NEW LAWS 2014
** FORECLOSURE OF LIENS (HB602-Chapter 603-Signed by Governor 5/15/14- Effective 10/01/14): The law changed the Maryland Contract Lien Act (Title 14, subtitle 2 Md. Real Prop. Code Ann.) by adding interest to existing allowable damages allowed in a lien to be foreclosed. Other allowable damages are regular and special assessments, and reasonable costs and attorney’s fees incurred in placing the lien and not exceeding the amount of the delinquent assessments. The changes in the law is shown below as stricken text for those words removed from the law, and BOLD CAPS for those words added.
Maryland Contract Lien Act, Title 14, Subtitle 2 Md. Real Property Code Ann:
14-204 (d)(2) Notwithstanding the declaration, articles of incorporation, bylaws, rules, or regulations of a common ownership community, a governing body may foreclose on a lien against a unit owner or lot owner only if the damages secured by the lien:
(I) Consist solely of:
1. Delinquent periodic assessments or special assessments AND ANY INTEREST; and
2. Reasonable costs and attorney's fees directly related to the filing of the lien and not exceeding THAT DO NOT EXCEED the amount of the delinquent assessments, EXCLUDING ANY INTEREST; and
(ii) Do not include fines imposed by the governing body or attorney's fees OR COSTS related to recovering the fines.
** PIT BULL LIABILITY (HB602-Chapter 603-Signed by Governor 4/8/14- Effective 4/8/14): We are pleased to notify you that the Maryland General Assembly has passed legislation enrolled as Chapter 48 that alleviates the strict liability for third parties and reinstates the common law liability standard for third parties that existed prior to April 2012. Essentially this means that a third party must have known, or should have known of the dog’s dangerous propensity in order to be held liable. The new law, effective when enacted, i.e. signed by the Governor on April 8, 2014, expressly reverses the holding in the 2012 Court of Appeals Solesky case. The law does not single out any particular breed as inherently dangerous. Rather, the new law makes the owner of any breed of dog that injures or damages another’s person or property, presumed to be liable. The dog owner will have the opportunity to try and prove otherwise.
Associations that have already adopted bans for various “dangerous” breeds as determined by the Board of Directors, need not revoke the ban unless they desire to do so, but the strict liability factor is now gone.
This change in the State law does not change any local jurisdiction’s laws, for example, Prince George’s County Code Section 3.185.01 prohibits owning, keeping or harboring Pit Bull Terriers. That law is still effective.
** BALCONY RAILINGS HB947 (SB401) - Public Safety - Building Codes - Balcony Railing Inspections (Jonathan's Law) to require periodic inspections of certain multifamily dwellings containing 2 or more dwelling units with balcony railings constructed of wood to ensure that each balcony railing meets code requirements. Condominiums and Cooperatives are expressly excluded from the law. Effective October 1, 2014.
** ELECTRIC VEHICLES - HB1346 (SB850) - Electric Vehicles and Recharging Equipment - Rebates and Tax Credits – Establishing, for calendar years 2014 through 2017, the Electric Vehicle Recharging Equipment Rebate Program to provide rebates to individuals and business entities for the costs of acquiring and installing vehicle recharging equipment. Effective July 1, 2014.
** CO-OP TRANSPARENCY ACT - SB865 - Maryland Cooperative Housing Act - Transparency Requirements and Member Rights. This law essentially applies a number of provisions from the Condominium and Homeowner Association Acts to Maryland Cooperative, including requirements for open meetings, establishing a dispute settlement mechanism, addressing distribution of written information by members, and establishing late fees and prohibiting the governing body of a certain cooperative housing corporation from bringing an action in court to evict a member based on the failure of the member to pay certain assessments, except under certain circumstances . Effective October 1, 2014 and dispute settlement provisions effective January 1, 2015.
NEW LAWS 2015
** SOLAR ENERGY - HB1087 - The law establishes a pilot program on community solar energy generating systems under the authority of the Public Service Commission; providing for the structure and operation of the program, including the generation of electricity and allocation of costs to subscribers to a community solar energy generating system. A “community solar energy generating system” means a solar energy system that among other things, is connected to the electric distribution grid serving the state. The system must serve 2 or more subscribers and may be owned by any person. The report by the State on the pilot program must be submitted by July 1, 2019. Effective July 1, 2015.
** TAX SALES VACANT PROPERTY PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY - HB 935 - The law allows Prince George’s County to foreclose the right of redemption against any tax lien on vacant lots or vacant property that it obtains anytime after the tax sale. Baltimore City already had this power. Effective June 1, 2015
** RESALE DISCLOSURE BILL - HB 1007 - THIS BILL DID NOT PASS! It would have limited the amount that could be charged for a resale disclosure package among other things. The bill failed.
We trust you will find this information helpful. Should you want full copies of the referenced bills, please ask. Our next newsletter will contain Court rulings and local laws of significance.
Very truly yours,
Kathleen M. Elmore, Managing Partner