Q: For many years, I have been reading your column involving questions about homeowners associations.
I volunteered to step in for a board member, who had resigned during his term. No rules and regulations on the duties of a board member were provided.
We have a small community, and I am among the first homeowners in the community, which opened in 1980. I have become friends over the years with most of the homeowners. We talk about issues and keeping the common areas beautiful.
Over the years we had a turnover in ownership and the covenants; conditions and restrictions had to be enforced. The HOA sent out letters with violations. Homeowners approached me and were confused. I tried to explain with the information I had.
I asked the HOA community manager if the board could get copies of what was sent to the homeowner, but I was informed that it was confidential.
I was never informed, nor did I see any rules, on what I could or could not share with the homeowner pertaining to any violation. Now, I received a memo from the community manager. Am I now in violation of all rules under Nevada Revised Statutes 116? I am confused and before I resign I ask for your suggestions and comments. Your reply is very much appreciated.
A: As a board member, you are entitled to copies of letters being sent to homeowners. Per your fiduciary responsibilities, board member are to keep confidentiality of such violation letters. You are also entitled to receive a full board package, which includes the association governing documents as well as NRS 116, so that you can have a full understanding of your regulations and guidelines. Your community manager should have provided that information when you became a board member.
As to your memo from your community manager, discussions and decisions in an executive session are to be confidential and are not for public information.
Q: Thanks for your column in the R-J regarding HOAs. I appreciate your perspective.
I am on the HOA board here in Vegas. We are having a tremendous challenge with our water usage/costs. The darned builders (in 2004) did not put water meters on each unit, so the owners have no incentive to conserve water or be aware of their usage. Water cost is the single largest line item in our HOA’s budget, and it has been increasing at over 10 percent per year. We have taken obvious steps.
My question is what can we do when only approximately 15 percent of our owners vote on any issue put before them. It makes sense financially to install and monitor individual unit water use/cost. To make this happen, we would need (as I’m told) more than 50 percent of the owners to vote in favor.
Are we understanding the situation correctly in your view?
We unfortunately are having to significantly increase HOA fees on an annual basis.
A: You were given the correct information. The installation of these water meters would fall under capital expenses, which would require a special assessment under section 3.4 of the governing documents, which requires an approval of 51 percent of the homeowners.
The association board should consider sending a vote to the membership, listing the problems, possible solutions, initial cost and future cost savings that would impact association fees. Inviting homeowners to one or more special meetings to discuss the issues could help the board reach its 51 percent approval.
Another option includes meeting with the Southern Nevada Water Authority specialists to come to the community and help the board develop a conservation program. The board may also want to investigate any state or federal grant programs that would assist them.
Barbara Holland is a certified property manager, broker and supervisory certified association manager. Questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.