Monday, May 30, 2022

The Virginia Property Owners’ Association Act – Memorandums of Lien

The Act specifically provides for remedies outside of the more common remedy of filing suit for the amount owed and receiving a judgment. A memorandum of lien to a holder of a credit line deed of trust under the Act is given in the same fashion as if the association’s lien were a judgment. Under the Act, the association can file for and perfect a lien against the homeowner that is prior to all other subsequent liens and encumbrances except real estate tax liens, liens and encumbrances recorded prior to the recordation of the declaration, and sums unpaid on and owing under any mortgage or deed of trust recorded prior to perfection of this lien.

To perfect the memorandum of lien, the association must file with the clerk of the circuit court in the county or city in which the development is situated a memorandum verified by the oath of the principal officer of the association or another officer provided for in the declaration. The memorandum must be filed within 12 months from the first assessment became due and payable. Additionally, prior to filing a memorandum of lien, a written notice must be sent to the property owner by certified mail, at the owner’s last known address, informing the owner that the lien will be filed in the circuit court clerk’s office at least 10 days before the actual filing date of the lien. The memorandum must name the development, describe the lot, name the person(s) constituting the owners of the lot, list the amount of unpaid assessments currently due or past due relative to such lot together with the date when each fell due, list the date of issuance of the memorandum, name the association with a name and address of the contact for the person to contact to arrange for payment or release of the lien, and state that the association is obtaining a lien in accordance with the provisions of the Virginia Property Owners’ Association act as set forth in Chapter 26 (section 55-508 et seq.) of Title 55.

The Act provides that a judgment or decree in this action must include, without limitation, reimbursement for costs and reasonable attorney’s fees for the prevailing party. Also, if the association prevails, it may also recover interest at the legal rate for the sums secured by the lien from the time each sum became due and payable. If the owner then satisfies the debt, the lien must be released, and failure to release the lien results in a penalty.

Once a lien has been perfected, the association must enforce the lien within 36 months from the time when the memorandum of lien was recorded. This time period cannot be extended.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Denial of Discharge and Sanctions

A Roanoke District Court affirmed a Bankruptcy Court’s denial of a Chapter 7 discharge and the award of sanctions to the creditor.  The case was Brown v. Presidential Financial Corp.

In Brown the debtor left the state of Georgia knowing that a collection action was pending against him.  He sold his Georgia residence and paid creditors with the sales proceeds, excluding the creditor in this case.  In Virginia the debtor filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition within eight days.  The creditor filed an objection to discharge under Bankruptcy Code §727(a)(2)(A), alleging that the debtor intended to hinder, delay or defraud the creditor.

The District Court, upon the debtor’s stipulation of the facts, determined that the evidence was sufficient for the Bankruptcy Court to rule in favor of the creditor and deny the discharge.

The District Court also upheld the Bankruptcy Court’s award of sanctions against the debtor; the Bankruptcy Court awarded the creditor its attorney’s fees and costs.  The Bankruptcy Court had found that the debtor repeatedly failed to comply with the creditor’s multiple motions to compel discovery, as well as the Court’s orders to turn over the requested materials.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Garnishing Joint Accounts

Can a creditor with a judgment against one party to a joint bank account garnish the account? Yes, but the judgment creditor is entitled only to that portion of the account which is attributable to the deposits of the judgment debtor. Virginia Code §6.1-125.3 holds that if the joint account holders are married, then the judgment creditor is entitled to half of the funds in the account, unless one of the married parties proves a different intent by clear and convincing evidence. Upon learning that the bank account is jointly held, the creditor must serve notice to the non-judgment account holder, as well as to the judgment debtor.  Courts have ruled, however, that married account holders could attempt to protect bank accounts by asserting that the accounts were exempt from execution if they were held as tenants by the entireties.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Lost Notes

Virginia Code §55-59.1(B) addresses the situation where the noteholder has lost the original note.  With the frequency of sales of notes on the secondary market, the loss of the original note documents occurs more often than might be expected.  The Code provides that if the note or other evidence of indebtedness secured by a deed of trust cannot be produced, and, the beneficiary submits to the trustee an affidavit to that effect, the trustee may proceed to foreclosure.  However, the beneficiary must send written notice to the person required to pay the instrument stating that the instrument is unavailable and that a request for sale will be made of the trustee upon the expiration of fourteen days from the date of the mailing of the notice.  The notice must be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address of the person required to pay the instrument, as reflected in the records of the beneficiary, and shall include the same and the mailing address of the trustee.  The notice must also advise the borrower if the borrower believes that he may be subject to claim by a person other than the beneficiary to enforce the instrument, the debtor may petition the circuit court of the county or city whether the property lies for an order requiring the beneficiary to provide adequate protection against any such claim.  Failure to give the notice does not affect the validity of the sale.

Monday, May 2, 2022

The Virginia Property Owners’ Association Act – General Provisions

In the last issue of Creditor News I began a review of the Virginia Property Owners’ Act. Under the Act, sellers are required to disclose in their sales contract that the property is located within a development subject to the Act. The Act also requires the seller to retrieve the Disclosure Packet in the Act and provide it to the purchaser. The Disclosure Packet includes the following information: association documents, the name of the association, state of incorporation, register agent’s name and address, any other entity/facility to which the owner may owe fees or charges, budget or summary, income/expenses statement or balance sheet for last fiscal year, statement of balance due of outstanding loans, nature/status of pending lawsuits, unpaid judgments (with material impact on association or members or relating to lot being purchased), insurance coverage provided for lot owners including fidelity bond maintained by association, and much more.

The purchaser may cancel the contract within three days if delivered by hand or email, or six days if sent by mail, after receiving the Disclosure Packet or being notified that it is “not available” (meaning: a current annual report has not been filed by the Association with either the SCC or the CICB; or the seller has requested in writing that the packet be provided and it is not received within 14 days; or the association has provided written notice that the Disclosure Packet is not available). Additionally, if the Disclosure Packet is not delivered or the association does not indicate that it is not available, the purchaser may cancel the sale any time prior to closing. If the purchaser received the Disclosure Packet, the owner also has the right to request an update. However, the rights to receive and cancel the contract are waived conclusively if not exercised before settlement.

Failure to provide a Disclosure Packet after a written request for it has been made results in a waiver of any claim to delinquent assessments or violations of association documents up to that point, and the association will be liable to the seller for actual damages sustained up to $1,000 if the association is managed by a CIC Manager or up to $500 if it is self-managed.