2010 Code of Virginia
Chapter 19 - Subdivided Land Sales Act (55-336 thru 55-351)
55-344 - Management, regulation and control of subdivisions in which there are common facilities or property owners' associations.

§ 55-344. Management, regulation and control of subdivisions in which there are common facilities or property owners' associations.

A. The covenants, deed restrictions, articles of incorporation, bylaws or other instruments for the management, regulation and control of subdivisions which include facilities or amenities for which the lot owners are assessed on a regular or special basis for the use, enjoyment, and maintenance thereof shall provide for, but need not be limited to:

1. Formation of an association to be composed of lot owners within the subdivision, such formation occurring prior to the sale of the first lot within the subdivision by the developer;

2. A description of the areas or interests to be owned or controlled by the association, which shall include those facilities or amenities for which the lot owners are subject to special or regular assessments;

3. The transfer of title and control and maintenance responsibilities of common areas and common facilities to the association, which transfer is to take place no later than at such time as the developer transfers legal or equitable ownership of at least seventy-five percent of the lots within the subdivision to purchasers of such lots or when all of the amenities and facilities are completed, whichever shall first occur, but in no event any sooner than two years from the date the developer sells his first lot within the subdivision should the developer elect to retain title to the common areas and common facilities for such period. The transfer herein required of the developer shall not exonerate him from the responsibility of completion of the common areas and facilities once the transfer takes place.

Nothing herein shall preclude the developer from transferring the common areas and common facilities for consideration, provided, (i) that such consideration does not exceed the lesser of the fair market value thereof at the time of transfer or the actual cost expended by the developer therefor, and (ii) that the developer affirmatively discloses the following information to the purchaser, in writing, at the time the initial contract of purchase is signed:

a. That the common areas and common facilities will be transferred only upon payment of consideration by the association;

b. The terms upon which such transfer will be made; and

c. An estimate of the amount of consideration to be paid by the association.

In the event the developer seeks payment for the areas or facilities transferred, the association shall have the option of deferring payment therefor evidenced by a deed of trust note covering a period of not less than five years at the legal rate of interest allowed in this Commonwealth, and secured by a deed of trust covering the facilities or areas transferred;

4. Procedures for determining and collecting regular assessments to defray expenses attributable to the ownership, use, enjoyment and operation of common areas and facilities transferred to the association;

5. Procedures for establishing and collecting special assessments for capital improvements or other purposes;

6. Procedures to be employed upon the annexation of additional land to the existing subdivision which procedures shall disclose whether or not per capita assessments on account of such annexation shall be subject to an increase, in the event additional amenities or common facilities are provided lot owners within the subdivision;

7. Such procedures and restrictions, if any, as apply with respect to the voluntary or involuntary resale of a lot within a subdivision by a purchaser or his agent, which procedures and restrictions, if any, shall be established prior to the sale of the first lot by the developer within the subdivision;

8. Monetary penalties or use privilege and voting suspension of members for breaches of the restrictions, bylaws or other instruments for management and control of the subdivision, or for nonpayment of regular or special assessments, with procedures for hearings for the disciplined members;

9. Creation of a board of directors or other governing body for the association with the members of the board or body to be elected by a vote of members of the association in good standing at an annual meeting or special meeting to be held not later than six months after the transfer of the areas of facilities outlined in subdivision 3 above;

10. Enumeration of the power of the board of directors or governing body which are consistent with and not otherwise provided by law;

11. The preparation of an annual balance sheet and operating statement for each fiscal year with provision for distribution of a copy of the reports to each member of the association in good standing within ninety days after the end of the fiscal year;

12. Quorum requirements for meetings of members of the association who are in good standing; and

13. Such other provisions as may be required by Chapter 10 (§ 13.1-801 et seq.) of Title 13.1, if the association is a Virginia nonstock corporation.

B. Any developer of a subdivision, successor or otherwise, which subdivision is subject to the provisions of this chapter, shall be obligated to complete the facilities and amenities as promised and outlined in subsection A of this section by the initial developer of the subdivision subject to the transfer of title and control and maintenance responsibilities of common areas and common facilities to the lot owners' association. The foregoing shall not be deemed to apply to any purchaser at foreclosure or grantee in a deed in lieu of foreclosure, provided the purchaser or grantee is a financial institution and the mortgagee, creditor, or beneficiary under the instrument being foreclosed or giving rise to the deed in lieu of foreclosure. The term financial institution shall mean a bank, savings institution, real estate investment trust, insurance company, pension or profit sharing trust, or other institution regularly engaged in the business of making real estate loans. For purposes of this subsection, the lot owners' association shall not be deemed a developer if at a meeting of its members in good standing a vote is taken whereby at least fifty percent of the members vote to be exempt from the requirements of this subsection.

C. The association, once formed and in existence and the title owner of the common areas and common facilities within the subdivision and which has been in existence for a period of at least five years, shall have the authority to pass special assessments against and raise the annual assessments of the members of the association and to collect said assessments from such members according to law, if the purpose in so doing is for the maintenance of the aforesaid common areas and common facilities. The authority hereby granted and conferred upon the association shall exist only where the restrictions and covenants of record have no specific language contained therein which precludes the adoption of special assessments or increases the annual dues or assessments.

D. The association shall have a lien on every lot within its subdivision for unpaid regular or special assessments levied against that lot in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. The lien, once perfected, shall be prior to all other liens and encumbrances except (i) real estate tax liens on that lot (ii) liens and encumbrances recorded prior to the perfected lien and (iii) any sums unpaid on any first mortgages or first deeds of trust recorded prior to the perfection of the lien for regular or special assessments and securing institutional lenders. The provisions of this subsection shall not affect the priority of mechanics' and materialmen's liens.

Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, or any other provisions of law requiring documents to be recorded in the miscellaneous lien books or the deed books of the clerk's office of any court, from July 1, 1978, all memoranda of liens arising under this subsection shall, in the discretion of the clerk, be recorded in the miscellaneous lien books or the deed books in such clerk's office. Any memorandum shall be indexed in the general index to deeds, and such general index shall identify the lien as a lien for subdivision regular or special assessments.

The association, in order to perfect the lien given by this subsection, shall file before the expiration of ninety days from the time such special or regular assessment became due and payable in the clerk's office of the county or city in which the subdivision is situated, a memorandum, verified by the oath of the president of the association, which memorandum shall contain:

1. A description of the subdivision;

2. The name or names of the persons constituting the owners of the lot;

3. The amount of unpaid special or regular assessments currently due or past due applicable to the lot, together with the date when each fell due; and

4. The date of issuance of the memorandum.

It shall be the duty of the clerk in whose office the memorandum shall be filed as hereinabove provided to record and index the same as provided in this subsection, in the names of the persons identified therein as well as in the name of the association. The cost of recording such memorandum shall be taxed against the person found liable for any judgment or decree enforcing such lien. It shall be lawful for such memorandum to be filed as one statement listing therein the above required information and each of the lot owners whose property within the subdivision is liened thereby. The cost of filing shall be as provided in subdivision A 2 of § 17.1-275.

No suit to enforce any lien perfected under this subsection shall be brought after one year from the time when the memorandum of lien was recorded; however, the filing of a petition to enforce any such lien in any suit wherein such petition may be properly filed shall be regarded as the institution of a suit under this subsection; and provided, further, that nothing herein shall extend the time within which any such lien may be perfected. Nothing shall preclude the association from filing a single suit listing all unpaid delinquent and enumerated lot owners as defendants, and obtaining judgment against those so adjudicated by the court hearing the cause.

The judgment or decree in an action brought pursuant to this subsection shall include, without limitation, reimbursement for costs and attorney's fees, together with the interest at the maximum lawful rate for the sums secured by the lien from the time each such sum became due and payable.

When payment or satisfaction is made of a debt secured by the lien perfected by this subsection, the lien shall be released in accordance with the provisions of § 55-66.3. For the purposes of § 55-66.3, the president or secretary of the association shall be deemed the duly authorized agent of the lien creditor.

Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prohibit the recovery of sums for which this subsection creates a lien.

Any lot owner within the subdivision having executed a contract for the disposition of the lot, shall be entitled, upon request, to a recordable statement setting forth the amount of unpaid regular or special assessments currently levied against that lot. Such request shall be in writing, directed to the president of the association and delivered to the principal office of the association. Failure of the association to furnish or make available such a statement within five business days from the receipt of such written request shall extinguish the lien created by this subsection as to the lot involved. Payment of a fee not exceeding fifteen dollars may be required as a prerequisite to the issuance of such a statement if the bylaws of the association so provide.

E. Upon July 1, 1978, and a subdivision becoming subject to the terms thereof and the requirements outlined in subdivisions 1 through 8 of subsection A of this section have not been performed then the requirements shall have to be fully complied with within a period of ninety days from July 1, 1978, and upon failure to fully perform all of such requirements within the ninety-day period the failure so to do shall constitute a violation of this subsection.

F. Each lot owner within a subdivision which falls within the definition of this chapter shall be responsible for his pro rata share of the cost of maintaining the common areas and common facilities owned by the association. For purposes of this subsection, common facilities and common areas shall be defined to mean only the roads and lakes within the subdivision and maintenance shall include any orderly program for the continued upkeep and improvement of such roads and lakes. The association shall have the responsibility of determining the pro rata share assessed against each lot owner and such amount assessed thereby shall be in addition to the annual or special assessment otherwise obligated by each member of the association.

G. Providing the definition of subdivision as detailed in subdivision 4 b of § 55-337 is complied with, the property owners' association at the subject subdivision shall have the powers and duties enumerated in subsections C, D and F of this section as well as the rights and authority to establish those procedures outlined in subdivisions A 4, A 5 and A 6 and the penalties in subdivision A 8 herein, but shall also have the obligations imposed by such subdivisions and those of subdivisions A 9 through A 12.

(1978, c. 510; 1980, c. 546; 1989, c. 68; 1993, c. 36; 1996, c. 77.)

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