December 4, 2023 - 9:57 am
Updated December 4, 2023 - 9:59 am
Q: Our homeowners association board won’t let us keep our treehouse because I did not have a permit before I built it. I simply thought my neighbors’s agreement was enough.
Since May, the HOA has charged me $200 per week and said it will continue to do so until I take off the treehouse.
A: Try to set a meeting with the board to reach some compromise. If the treehouse does not violate the architectural guidelines, it should be approved based upon those documents. What appears to be a problem is that you did not submit an architectural request and were fined because the treehouse was built before approval.
Q: I live in an age-qualified HOA where no one under the age of 19 can reside. So, it surprised me last year when I saw a school bus drive past my home in the morning and again in the afternoon. After a few weeks of seeing the bus, I followed it just down the street from me to see a boy about 12 get off the bus. I notified the compliance management office about this, and I got a response that they would look into it. A few months passed, and I still see the school bus; and asked management what was going on. I was told that they commenced action against the homeowner, but they couldn’t give me details. About three months ago, I asked why I was still seeing the school bus, meaning the boy continued to live here. Again I was told they are doing everything they can to enforce the age rule, but it may take time.
My next email was to the association board members to ask their opinion and help. I received a reply from the board president who basically said that they can only fine the homeowner and file a lien if necessary, but the law doesn’t allow them to do any more.
Therefore, according to that, anyone can pay all of the fines assessed to them and continue to live here and defy all rules of the association. My question to you: Is there really nothing else that can be done except assess fines and file liens for unpaid fines to bring a homeowner into compliance? What’s the purpose of having such rules if there is no further means of enforcing them, especially a rule that’s basic to the major tenet of an age-qualified HOA?
A: When these age-restricted communities were first built, they were based upon the premise that seniors would be residing in them. What has happened over the years, more and more grandparents have been asked by their children to watch over the grandchildren or in some cases to even become the legal guardians of the grandchildren. With the pandemic, some parents were forced to live in a different part of Nevada or out of state, which accelerated this issue.
Yes, your association can place fines and liens on the homes. What is more costly is for your association to file a motion in District Court, which could take years and cost much money before any decision is made that would allow your association to take action to foreclose upon them. Before filing a motion in District Court, your association would need to file with the Nevada Real Estate Division.
Your board can discuss the options with their attorney, but the reality is that the resolution will be costly.
Q: We have lived at a luxury gated community for almost 13 years, and both my husband and I have been active in the HOA. He was the president of the board for a couple of terms. Board membership has turned over significantly in the last few years, and we also have new community management company, which was brought in when our former management company refused to deal with our community anymore. We have a lot of issues with this new company, as well as with the board who hired them. One of the most concerning is the amount of money that is being charged to homeowners in fines of various sorts.
There are 507 lots and around 500 homes (a few homes are built on multiple lots) in the community. According to an August report, fines to homeowners totaled $18,025. The amount budgeted for this period was $325. As far as the year-to-date goes, from January through August of this year, fines to homeowners totaled a whopping $113,500, where $3,000 had been budgeted.
This is in contrast to a comparable revenue and expense statement for the month of September 2019, while my husband was on the board, when the month’s fines are reported as $1,400 and the year-to-date total was $7,975.
We are very, very concerned. Any reactions/comments/suggestions/direction would be greatly appreciated.
A: The assessment of fines are considered confidential information pertaining to those homeowners who have been fined. An association can break down the fines without identifying those homeowners. For example, x amount of the fines pertains to architectural violations, x pertains to continuing violations, etc. Also, homeowners can obtain the enforcement and fine regulations, which are part of the documents that homeowners should be receiving with the budget ratification package.
Your board should review all of the fines in detail as there could be administrative issues since your association has had more than one management company. Some of the fines could be waived for not following proper procedures, which would require that a new inspection should occur. Some fines may have been automatically assessed by the software when a homeowner has not responded in writing that the violation has been cured and where an updated inspection did not occur.
There are associations where the boards will allow a discount in paying the fines for those homeowners who correct their violations within a certain period of time, which allows the boards to reduce this outstanding receivable.
Barbara Holland, CPM is an author, educator, expert witness on real estate issues pertaining to management and brokerage. Questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.