The Maryland Attorney General's Office has decided that Montgomery County's condominium sunshine law is constitutional. The City of Rockville asked for the opinion because it wants to adopt the same law, said Sondra Harans Block, assistant city attorney.
Block said "there was some concern whether the Montgomery legislation is preempted by state law" governing condominiums. The attorney general, however, concluded that "the Montgomery ordinance was a law for the protection of consumers" and thus can stand as it is written, said Jack Schwartz, state assistant counsel for opinions and advice. It will be enforced by the county Office of Consumer Affairs.
The Montgomery law requires that all meetings of homeowners' associations and boards of directors be open and held at regularly scheduled times and places, and that members receive advance notice of changes. It also states that materials concerning board elections and paid for by the associations cannot specify a preference for any candidates. The law applies to "homeowners associations," which it describes as any organization that has the power to impose fees for provision of services on unit owners in condominiums, cooperatives or any other housing.
Owners of many of Montgomery County's 32,000 condominium units have complained that "abuses are widespread in regard to unrestrained condominium fees and assessments, financial irresponsibilities, closed boards of directors meetings . . . ," according to Dorothy Sager, president of the Maryland Association of Condominium Owners Inc.