The Maryland Commission on Condominiums is expected to propose legislation that will help solve problems with new condominiums, but the legislation would probably not apply retroactively to existing units, the chairman of the commission said this week.
Chairman Richard Arkin, interviewed at the fifth in a series of six hearings on condominium problems in the state, said the hearings have been "very helpful." Thirty people attended the hearing Wednesday night in Greenbelt.
Commission member Roy Schiller said the hearings have pointed to two types of problems - those arising when a condominium is first developed, and those occurring later, after all the units have been sold. He said the commission hopes to help condominiums "get off the ground right." Helping people get along with each other once the condominium is established is quite another problem, he noted.
Many of the speakers at the hearing were directors of their condominium associations, and they spoke of the difficulty in enforcing the association's rules on all the condominium unit owners. The rules can govern such things as the ownership of pets and the use of major applicances.
James McIntyre, president of the National Capital Condominium Federation, suggested that the commission recommend to the Maryland legislature that a special court be set up to deal with condominium problems. A condominium board has no power to enforce its bylaws "except to go to the courts, which costs a lot of money," another speaker said.
The commission also heard complaints about Maryland laws now covering condominium associations, laws that require a majority of a condominium building's co-owners to approve certain actions. That requrement has made associations' annual meetings "a joke," one person said, because a majority never shows up at the meetings.
Many speakers also said there was a need for more stringent financial disclosure requirements for condominium sales, especially for the sale of an unit to a second owner.
The commission will hold its last hearing at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Legislative Services Building in Annapolis. Written comments may be sent to the commission at P.O. Box 6278, Aspen Hill 20906.