HOAs usually required to give notice before towing

Q. My granddaughter's sport utility vehicle was towed from her driveway because she had expired license tags on her vehicle. The cost for the towing was $185.74, plus a day's pay since she had no way to go to work and had to pick up her car from the towing company.

The SUV had been parked in the driveway overnight because her garage door had come off the track the day before.

The covenants state that no vehicles are to be parked in the driveways after 10 p.m. and overnight. Parking is not allowed on the street and there were no parking slots available. There are only four on her street.

We wrote a letter protesting this incident and were granted a hearing.

At the hearing we were told that the SUV was towed primarily because of expired license tags. We were dissatisfied with the decision and feel the association is playing God and doing Metro's job. Do we have any further recourse? Is there a state agency that governs associations and do we have a valid complaint?

A. NRS 116.3012.2s is the state law that allows associations to remove vehicles improperly parked on association property, as long as it is in accordance with NRS 487.038 ,which pertains to towing laws. If a vehicle is improperly parked, the association must post written notice in a conspicuous place on the vehicle or provide oral or written notice to the owner or operator of the vehicle at least 48 hours before the association may direct the removal of the vehicle, unless the vehicle is blocking a fire hydrant or fire lane or parking space designated for the handicapped or poses an imminent threat of causing a substantial adverse effect on the health, safety, welfare of the unit owners or residents within the community.

In the reader's case, the association is lucky it has not received a violation letter to repair the garage door, which should be repaired as soon as possible. In order for the association to have the reader's SUV legally towed, the association first was required to notify the homeowner. From the reader's letter, it does not appear that the owner/resident was notified. If this is the case, then the board would be liable for the towing charge. If the owner/resident was notified, then the association followed proper procedure.

The reader can contact the ombudsman office at the Nevada Real Estate Division located on East Sahara Avenue and file a complaint against the association. Two interesting side notes: First, it is unusual for a towing company to tow a vehicle in an owner's driveway; and second, the reader's letter states that the granddaughter lost one day's pay because she had no way to get to work, inferring that she has been driving her SUV on public streets with expired license tags. Hopefully, she will be able to talk herself out of a ticket.

Ombudsman clarifies process

I recently received an e-mail from Ombudsman Lindsay Waite's office pertaining to my May 13 column. In that column, a reader wrote thanking me for my advice on which agencies to contact to get help in fixing a shaky railing and bulging floor deck outside her condo. In addition to the homeowners association's insurance company and the local housing code enforcement agency, I suggested she contact the state ombudsman office. In the end she got the cooperation of her association. But in her thank-you letter she stated that an ombudsman intervention affidavit was mailed to the state Real Estate Division and was told it could possibly take six months before anything could be done to address her problem.

The recent correspondence from the ombudsman office was sent to clarify the intervention procedure. When the office receives completed intervention affidavits (meaning that the complainant has fulfilled all requirements mandated by statues, which includes submitting proof that he or she notified the respondent by certified mail of the concerns), it will offer an opportunity for a voluntary conference in an attempt to reach a resolution. To date, more than 200 intervention affidavits have been reviewed and 75 conferences held. Conferences are not held when either side is unwilling to meet. Those intervention affidavits go directly to the compliance section of the Real Estate Division for review.

Of the 75 conferences held through mid-May, 41 were officially resolved; 10 are pending resolution; and eight were withdrawn (presumably after resolution of the problem).

The time period from the receipt of a completed intervention affidavit to the establishment of a conference date is about six to 12 weeks. Where matters are of an urgent nature (involving health or safety issues), those intervention affidavits receive priority and are set for a conference at the earliest convenience.

Thereafter, if a matter reaches tentative resolution during the conference, the proposed resolution then has to be reviewed by the HOA Board for consideration of adoption. The latter phase can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months (depending on when the next board meeting is held).

We thank Ombudsman Waite for sending this e-mail explaining the intervention affidavit process.

Barbara Holland, certified property manager, is president and owner of H&L Realty and Management Co. Questions may be sent to Association Q. & A., P.O. Box 7440, Las Vegas, NV 89125. Her fax number is 385-3759.