Try one-on-one approach before filing complaint


Q: What do I do when my homeowners association does not enforce the rules? I have numerous times faxed and emailed complaints for a house in my neighborhood that always keeps the garage door open and the community rules state garage doors be closed except for entering and exiting.

A: Because of privacy laws, the association cannot tell you what actions they have taken as to the neighbor’s constant violation of the association’s regulation. The association could be following due process and your neighbor could be receiving fines.

Fining and obtaining compliance are two different matters. There are some homeowners that you could fine until hell freezes over and they will continue to ignore the violation letters, and stay out of compliance. Try calling the management company and asking the community manager if the association is addressing your complaint or just ignoring it.

I would hate to see you take the step to file a complaint against your association if the only nonenforcement of your regulations that you are writing me about just pertains to the garage door as there are more serious complaints that the Nevada Real Estate Division needs to address and catch up addressing past complaints and investigations.

I don’t know your relationship with your neighbor and have no idea if you have tried a one-on-one approach with them. If you have not, a little honey goes along way; try speaking with them.

Q: We have a good management company. Over the past 10 years there have been great things and there have been problems but we always managed to work through them. In the past six months there’s been a bit of a struggle and after some conversation, our management company made changes to try and get back to the successful side of things.

Our board just found out that the management company may have mishandled a request from the state ombudsman’s office and definitely made a mistake with a liened property, authorizing action the board had not approved. They’re doing their best to rectify the situation but our board is left with questions:

If the errors by the management company result in litigation, will the HOA be on the hook for lawyers or would this be paid for by the management company?

If the board decides to change management companies as a result of this issue, do we have to wait until the issue is resolved?

How do we explain the litigation to other homeowners? Would it be OK to explain in general terms that there was an error and now there’s litigation and it’s being handled?

It’s a struggle for the board because we have had a very good relationship with this company. If we stay with them, this situation will be a constant ghost. It’s going to be hard to rebuild trust. But this issue could happen anywhere. There are going to be mistakes by the board and by our vendors.

A: Your first step is to confirm that the management company mishandled a request from the ombudsman’s office. If there was an error, the second step is to find out what steps need to be taken by the management company to rectify the request.

If there is a fine that will be assessed against the association as a result of the management company’s action, a request can be made to waive the fine. If the fine is not waived by the ombudsman, then the management company should pay the fine on behalf of the association.

As to the liened property that was taken without authorization from the board, was the property delinquent, should it have been liened? If the error was made only because the management company “ jumped the gun” and liened the property before board authorization, then the board just needs to caution the management company. If the error was made by the management company not receiving authorization and liened the wrong property, then the management company would be responsible for any fees to remove the lien from the property.

I cannot tell from the reader’s letter the exact nature of the lawsuit against the association. Now, most management company’s contract with the association requires the association to name the management company as an additional insured on the association’s policy.

Mistakes do happen, people are “human.” The insurance company will generally cover mistakes as opposed to wrongful actions taken with knowledge or intent. Depending upon the circumstances, the management company could be responsible for the payment of the association’s deductible as the association’s insurance policy would defend the lawsuit. Without more information from the reader, I can only speculate.

Per state laws, the association should notice the homeowners that the association has been sued. This is also a requirement in the resale package for new homeowners to be notified that a lawsuit has been initiated against the association. In general terms, the information can be disseminated as well as what action is being taken.

No, you don’t have to wait until the issue is resolved if the association board strongly feels that a change in management should occur now. Since your association has enjoyed a long and good relationship, it would be prudent for the board to sit down and talk to the community manager, the supervisory community manager and or the owner of the management company to determine why the problems occurred, what is being done to avoid such problems in the future. In addition, see what steps the management company is willing to take to resolve these issues.

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 support@hlrealty.com.

 

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