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High-rise ‘service dogs’ appear to be regular pets

Q: Our high-rise community has restrictions in the governing documents regarding the number and size of dogs as pets for each resident. Several residents claim they require one or more service dogs negating the effectiveness of these rules. We require a letter from a medical provider confirming the need for a service animal, however, it is pretty clear that many of these animals are pets not service animals. How do we effectively enforce of rules without violating any fair housing laws?

A: Difficult subject. You have to be extremely careful and that you have all of the facts before taking any action. Under the Fair Housing Act, if a disability is not open and obvious, and or the nexus between the need for a service/emotional animal is not clear, you have the right to request medical information or further information. Based on your email, you are obtaining letters from medical providers.

You need to work with an attorney whose firm not only specializes in associations but one that has an attorney who works with fair housing and Americans with Disabilities Act issues. You would need to discuss the situation with the fair housing attorney.

The problem is that once you start enforcement, you will open a can of worms. It’s almost a no-win scenario.

If you have not done so, you may want to pass a regulation that requires all pets to have pet insurance with specific coverages. In addition, you may be able to have a special animal fee. Check with your attorney to discuss these options.

Q: In doing some research on homeowners association fines I came across an article you wrote a few years ago. It was a nice piece.

I am struggling to get (my community) to approve a new color scheme for my home. It seems to me that their denial is a bit arbitrary and overly prohibitive. They are also not very helpful or cooperative when pressed for additional information.

In their denial they only site that: “The colors do not meet with the color standards of other homes in your community.”

My question for you is, if I go ahead and paint my house they will likely fine me. What happens if I never pay the fine? Note: My subassociation board and design review committee has already approved this same request.

A: Your association can fine you on a weekly basis as much as $100 per week. In addition, the association can place a lien on your property, which could impact your credit rating or your ability to refinance or sell your home.

The association could file a civil small claims action against you where they could attempt to attach your wages on your account with your bank.

Q: Dozens of homeowners in my large HOA have been inundated with unsolicited email messages from a disgruntled homeowner, who is already under Nevada Real Estate Division sanctions related to his misconduct in his prior HOA. He is campaigning to have our executive board fire our community manager and general counsel.

Despite the requests of the email recipients to desist from sending them his emails, he continues to send them and he won’t tell them how he obtained their email addresses, though there are some readily available sources from which he might have obtained them.

The affected homeowners are undoubtedly not going to spend money from their own pockets to take legal actions against this individual. With that in mind, do you know of any Nevada Revised Statutes or typical HOA governing documents that might give our association authority to take some sort of action against the offending individual?

A: Other associations have the same issue. The easiest solution is to block his emails. The board could possibly send a violation letter based on harassment under NRS 116.31184. Best bet is to block his emails.

Q: I read you column regularly and appreciate your insights.

We are a 100-home sub-association of attached townhomes. We are located within a master association that communicates with owners multiple times each day via email.

Currently, as a sub-association, we do not have any way to communicate with owners via email. Apparently, that capability was lost when a change in management companies occurred three to four years ago. Consequently, the only communication we currently have is via U.S. Mail, which mainly includes only the quarterly meeting information and required financial docs.

Recently, the board approved a resolution to initiate an email program. We are getting a little push back from the management company, who is saying that owners must “opt-in” to participate in an email program and they are turning a simple process into a difficult task.

My research of NRS 116 says that any resident who provides an email address is automatically entitled to receive email. My reference is NRS 116.31068. It states that owners can “opt-out,” which is much the opposite of our management company’s position.

The statute below mentions “Sub-section 3,” which I have excluded because it references legal-type documents that are not at issue.

It is time to come out of the dark ages! Your considered opinion regarding “opt-in” vs. “opt-out,” will be greatly appreciated.

A: The board should insist the management company begins to implement an email communication system. To opt in or to opt out is addressed in NRS 116.31068.

Barbara Holland, CPM is an author, educator, expert witness on real estate issues pertaining to management and brokerage. Questions may be sent to holland744o@gmail.com.

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New law helps protect homeowners’ private information

In addition to imposing cybersecurity insurance and data protection requirements for homeowners associations’ online assessment payment processors, SB378, which was adopted this session and went into law earlier this year, helps HOA protect homeowners’ private information and streamlines the email notification process.

New law improves online protections for homeowners

Pursuant to SB 378, that was adopted this session and went into law earlier this year, entities processing homeowner payment transactions are now required to maintain a minimum of $5 million dollars in cyber-security insurance “that provides coverage for losses arising out of or relating to data breaches, unauthorized intrusions into an information system, computer viruses, ransomware, identity theft and similar exposures.”

HOAs can buy flood insurance but it’s expensive

Is it possible for the HOA to purchase flood insurance for the complex even though it is not in a high-risk flood zone?

New law will allow HOA electronic voting for elections, recalls

Assembly Bill 309 allows HOAs to utilize electronic voting for elections and recalls. It also allows HOAs to use autopay and opens the door to development of new management transition requirements.

Homeowners say HOA is doing things right

The board is striving to keep this a nice place to live, where our now grown kids enjoy coming back with theirs for visits.

HOAs not required to carry flood insurance

You can contact the Regional Flood Control District that can tell you if your home is in a designated flood zone.

Homeowner says HOA doesn’t communicate well

First, there should be no issue for the management company to inform you as to the checklist that is used by the inspector.

Homeowners can meet to air concerns about HOA

Homeowners do have the right to meet to discuss their concerns about their association. Unlike board meetings which have to be disclosed to the membership, this group can have private undisclosed meetings.

Columnist Barbara Holland celebrates 25 years of HOA QA

For over 25 years, Holland dedicated her time and expertise to Las Vegas homeowners’s concern through her column, which is published on Sunday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s real estate section.