Communication is key in HOA problems

Q: I own a condo in a high-rise complex in Las Vegas. A water leak from an unknown source caused a little water damage to my unit. The HOA management contracted an outside company to remedy the problem. They punched a hole in the wall and placed fans in the room for a few days, dirtied the carpets and inconvenienced my tenant. I was never given an estimate or opportunity to approve the work. I received a bill in the mail for $1,600.

I have inquired several times to the HOA as to the source of the water leak, whether it was from another unit or a common building issue. There response is that it is a confidential matter.

My question are:

Since I did not approve the work can an outside company bill me and demand payment or should the bill be directed to the HOA?

If the leak originated from the building or from another unit, who is legally responsible?

I have a bad feeling that the HOA is not taking responsibility and not being forthcoming. Thank you.

A: The association should have contacted you as the owner of the unit to explain there was a water leak and that a contractor would be coming into your unit.

The community manager should have told you what he or she wanted to do and why the work was necessary, and should have informed you that you would be liable for the repairs being made in your unit.

If the management was unable to reach you, your governing documents probably would have allowed the association to enter the unit to remediate the problem. Punching a hole and placing fans would indicate that the association was trying to dry inside the wall to prevent the growth of mold.

Since you did not authorize the work, the outside company cannot seek reimbursement from you.

It needs to be paid by the association, which contracted it in the first place. What the association can do, if the governing documents state that somehow your unit was responsible in part or in whole, is assess you the $1,600.

You may want to find out whether you can file a claim against the insurance company for the damages and repair of the wall.

Much could have been avoided with proper communication. Having made that statement, I cannot begin to tell you just how important it is for the management company to have good contact information, whether you live or do not live within the community. You never know how one phone number or email address the management company has on file for your unit could save you thousands of dollars. It is your job as an owner to inform your management company of any contact changes.

Q: If a mortgagee takes a deed in lieu of foreclosure on a property within a homeowners association, is the owner still responsible for all the delinquent dues, or nine months as they would after a foreclosure sale, or none at all?

A: In responding to this question, I asked for assistance from attorney John Leach.

“A deed in lieu of foreclosure does not impact an association’s lien. In fact, if a lender accepts a deed in lieu of foreclosure then the association’s lien remains on the property.

The superpriority analysis does not apply. The entire lien remains due and the association may continue to foreclose on its lien.

Barbara Holland, certified property manager, broker and supervisory certified association manager, is president and owner of H&L Realty and Management Co. Questions may be sent to the Association Q&A, P.O. Box 7440, Las Vegas, NV 89125. Fax is 702-385-3759, email is