Utah lot owner gets surprise bill for dues

Q. We purchased 2 1/2 acres in Utah last year. It does not have a house on the land, although we have an option to build one. We received a bill for annual property owner's dues in the amount of $150. We were not told of this at the time of purchase. The seller states she informed us of the dues. We did not sign any papers concerning property owner dues. We were not given any covenants until I called to ask about the dues. I would like to know if we are legally responsible for the dues and am wondering what will keep them from raising the dues in the future?

A. I would advise the reader to carefully review the covenants to this vacant land. There may be another surprise for her if the covenants require the construction of a home on the vacant land within a specific time frame. As to a possible increase in dues, again, the reader needs to review the covenants, which probably include the process for dues increase.

I am not familiar with the state laws of Utah. If this was a land purchase in Nevada that was part of an association, the seller would have been obligated to provide certain information. First, there is a required information statement per NRS 116.41095 which basically warns the buyer that when purchasing into an association the buyer agrees to restrictions on the property as stated in the governing documents. One of the required statements is that the buyer will have to pay assessments for as long as he or she owns the property, and that if the buyer fails to pay assessments, the association has the right to foreclose on the property.

In addition to these disclosure statements, the seller also is required to provide, per Nevada law, a copy of the declaration of the covenants, conditions and restrictions, bylaws, rules and regulations. In addition, the seller must provide the buyer with a statement setting the amount of monthly dues for the common expenses and any unpaid assessments from the seller's unit. The seller also is to provide the buyer with a copy of the operating budget, and a statement of any unsatisfied judgments or pending legal actions against the association.

A buyer in Nevada has the option of canceling, without penalty, his or her contract of purchase until midnight of the fifth calendar day following receipt of this resale package.

The reader needs to contact a representative agent for Utah's Real Estate Division to ascertain her rights with regard to the purchase of this piece of land.

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. Questions may be shortened and are subject to editing.