Council to Change Common Ownership Communities Law?

The Montgomery County Council is scheduled to take action on Oct. 22 to expand the authority of the Commission on Common Ownership Communities to award attorney’s fees to a prevailing party in certain disputes (Bill 19-13).

The CCOC has jurisdiction to resolve a complaint filed by a community association against a member or filed by a member against a community association or another member to enforce the association documents or a State or County law regulating common ownership communities.

Under current law, the Commission can award attorney’s fees to any party if the opposing party acts in bad faith or if the association documents permit the award of attorney’s fees. Since the association documents normally only permit an award of attorney’s fees to the association if it prevails in a case enforcing the association documents, a unit owner or occupant who prevails in a case against the association is rarely eligible for an award of attorney’s fees. Bill 19-13, whose chief sponsor is Councilmember George Leventhal, would permit the Commission to award attorney’s fees to a unit owner or occupant who prevails in a dispute to enforce the association documents or a State or County law regulating common ownership communities.

The Commission on Common Ownership Communities (CCOC) was established in 1991. The CCOC was created to advise the County Executive and the County Council on ways to handle common ownership of property in communities; promote public awareness of the rights and obligations of living in common ownership communities; resolve disputes between community associations and their members and residents; and maintain property values and quality of life in community associations.

It is comprised of 15 voting members appointed by the County Executive and confirmed by the Council. Eight of the members must be residents of common ownership communities and seven must be professionals associated with common ownership communities.

The Council’s weekly session will begin at 1 p.m. in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. The morning session will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon).

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