Think twice before shutting off water to condo units


Q: Our community is made up of 102 homes. Each home does not have its own water meter. Our bills are determined by two meters and they read all the water used (by residents and community use). Payment of the water utility is included in our annual budget and it is the largest expenditure.

There are several homeowners who have stopped paying their monthly assessments. The homeowners association has begun taking legal action against them. Can we legally have the water department shut off the water to these homes?

A: Since you have two water meters to your community, I don't think that the water can physically be shut off without affecting the rest of the homeowners on the particular meter. You would have to check this out with the water district. If is feasible, then you would need to contact a plumber.

NRS 116.345 subsection 4 would allow the association to shut off water to a an owner who has not paid the utility charge. Please note, it does not state who has not paid their monthly regular assessments.

You would need to estimate the cost of water per unit within the community based upon the actual expense. A letter would have to be sent to the owners telling them the amount of their assessments that pertain to water expense and their share of that expense. This would be the grand total from that period of time that the owners stopped paying monthly assessments. This letter must be sent out at least 10 days before you plan to interrupt the utility service.

Regardless of this state law, I would caution any association to think twice before shutting off water to a unit. There are definite health and safety issues, starting with sanitation. If owners are not paying their assessments, then your association should begin foreclosure actions against them.

Q: My association publishes a monthly magazine. Frequently, there are inserts advertising different merchants. During election time, there were political flyers. One magazine arrived the day before Election Day with a political flyer paid for by some residents of the community. I complained to a board member that I didn't think it appropriate for political flyers to be included in this magazine. His response was that we (the community) needed the revenue. I don't think it is proper, even in this financial climate.

However, if the magazine is going to insert political flyers, I believe inserts from both parties or candidates should be included. What is the legality of this?

A: In 2009, the Legislature amended NRS 116.31175 sections 6-8. The association must allow equal space if an official publication of the newsletter contains or will contain any mention of a candidate or ballot question or views or opinions of the association concerning an issue of official interest, upon request of a unit owner, tenant or resident of the community and without charge.

In your case, there were paid advertisements for political flyers for the midterm political elections for local, state and federal governments. Although, the law does not explicitly cover this issue, in the spirit of the above law, the association should allow any opposing sides to pay for their political flyers to be included in their newsletter since the association was already excepting political flyers.

Was it right for the association to allow the political flyers to be included in this magazine? It is not against any laws. Does this association have a policy on what is allowed or disallowed as to its publication policy? If not, perhaps there should be a written policy.

Is it the responsibility of the association to contact the other side informing them that flyers of their opposition would be included in the newsletter? Not necessarily. If there is a written policy, then it should state that political flyers are acceptable. It would then be the responsibility of the homeowners to provide the flyers and not for the association to solicit paid political flyers.

The elections are over, but the association should have notified homeowners that they would be accepting political flyers.

Barbara Holland, CPM, and Supervisory CAM, is president of H&L Realty and Management Co. To ask her a question, e-mail support@hlrealty.com.

 

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