SPRINGDALE – State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy held the seventh annual Prince George’s County Community Association Conference (PGCCAC) on Sept. 21, the first of her administration.
The conference, which took place at Charles Herbert Flowers High School, is held every year to help strengthen community associations and to update community members on legislation, fees and rights involving homeownership.
Braveboy organized the conference as a state delegate to address concerns and confusion regarding the rights of homeowners and the responsibilities of the community associations that govern them. The conference provides an environment for community associations to strengthen its connections with homeowners and connect with business and governmental resources.
Weak, disorganized associations, Braveboy said, can lower property values and affect the safety and security of their communities.
As state’s attorney, Braveboy often saw allegations of wrongdoing against property management companies, board members of associations and attorneys servicing those associations.
Her goal with this conference then became working with the attorney general’s office, which addresses the civil nature of these allegations, to educate associations and their members regarding their responsibilities and roles in their communities.
“As a state delegate, I knew that there were a lot of complaints. ‘This person would do this thing wrong,’ or, ‘I think this person’s stealing money,’” Braveboy said. “But now, as state’s attorney, we’re responsible for following up on the investigation of those.”
Often allegations that reach the state’s attorney’s office end up not being criminal cases. But while associations might be working lawfully, they might not be working transparently, raising distrust within the community when members are confused about where the money is going or how associations are running.
“We want to avoid people, who are essentially volunteers, winding up in our office as part of a criminal investigation,” Braveboy said.
To educate community members, the conference included workshops for community boards and their members to be updated on housing legislation and predatory business practices.
“When things go down, you want to know your rights,” Caroline Brown, who joined the workshop to know her general rights as a homeowner, said. “I’m sure a lot of homeowners aren’t aware.”
This was State Del. Marvin Holmes’ (D-23B) first time teaching a workshop, and he was surprised by his turnout. Many visitors were standing to make up for the lack of seating in the high school classroom. He attributed the turnout to issues in condominiums and homeowners’ associations.
“One of the common threads that I see all the time is how the governing board operates, and are they operating within the law?” Holmes said.
Earlier this year, a Silver Spring-based property management company, Evergreen Management, was charged by the attorney general’s office of misappropriating funds. Visitors showed concern that the same could happen to them, and asked questions on how the law could better protect them.
“The boards are not trained and not taking the time to train themselves,” said Holmes, with regards to how homeowners’ associations get into legal trouble.
Holmes encouraged people to contact him anytime they felt confused about housing legislation.
“It’s important for everyone to come every year, because everything changes every year,” said Holmes. “Laws change, and new ideas pop up.”