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Homeowner says HOA assessments unfair

Q: I have rented all my adult life, and I will be closing soon on a townhouse in southeast Las Vegas. I only now found out that the homeowners association is charging a flat monthly HOA fee of $144 to all residents within the community (301 townhomes of differing square footages, some single-story and others two-story.

The HOA fee covers water and garage side landscaping only. The landscaping is minuscule as all homeowners’ garages have a very narrow curbside setback with gravel, and what looks like a few desert plants that have been ignored for quite some time.

My question is: “How can they charge the same fee that includes water across the community to each unit that differs in size and occupancy?” I cannot fathom how they can do that legally.

While renting, my water usage, including sewer was always broken down and fluctuated based upon total property billings. As a single occupant of a one bedroom apartment, I was charged based upon those factors to determine usage without a meter via a formula used by their utility billing company.

Can’t imagine how this HOA I am about to become a member of can come up with a flat monthly fee, which just was increased at the first of the year from $126 to $144 monthly. How can they justify this with no consideration for size of units as well as total occupancy within?

Does not make any good common sense to think I, as a single occupant, within a 924-square-foot single story, two-bedroom unit would be charged the same as others in larger two-story or single-story units with larger occupancy.

Please advise on how I should approach my HOA or the appropriate governing state agency regarding my concerns.

A: You would need to review your governing documents. There are many associations where the homeowner assessment is the same for all units, regardless of size. If your governing documents state that each unit will be charge the same amount regardless of size, the only way to change the language is by amending it which would require a specific number of homeowners to approve the change.

Q: I was inquiring if you know if there’s any restrictions to a police K9 and their kennel in a HOA neighborhood?

A: I do not know if there are any restrictions. Your regulations would provide answers as to restrictions concerning animals, such as your covenants, conditions and restrictions. You may want to contact the county or the city where you live to find out the requirements of having police K9 in residential areas.

Q: Can they close the pool area and change locks indefinitely because there was vandalism? They said the pool area is closed and they changed the bathroom locks. Didn’t give us any new keys to access the areas either. There are no closed signs, no signs of vandalism and the pool and the hot tub work fine, yet the whole area is closed, “because of vandalism.” I found this out via emailing the community manager. They have no indications of when it will be opened again. This is the last straw and I am sending a complaint letter to the HOA tomorrow morning, addressing this and all the other issues.

A: Yes. An association can close and lock an area where there has been vandalism on some consistent basis. Your board will need to make some decision and plan as the facilities should not be closed indefinitely.

Q: Ms. Holland, I’ve sought your guidance in the past and value your input.

If an executive board member knowingly circumvents a Nevada Revised Statute is it considered a criminal offense?

A: It would depend upon the offense. If the president, for example, refuses to hold board meetings when required, the violation would fall under civil offense. If he stole association funds, a criminal offense.

Q: Our high-rise condo building is worth $217 million with 409 units. I just discovered there is only $5 million worth of earthquake insurance. This would force the average owner to lose 75 percent if the building is a total loss. Seems like this would be a violation of NRS 116.3113 and the fiduciary NRS by not properly covering the building. Thoughts?

A: NRS 116.3113 addresses insurance and the general requirements for associations. This law states that associations shall maintain, to the extent reasonably available and subject to reasonable deductibles of the following coverages: property insurance, commercial and general liability insurance, crime insurance, directors and officers insurance. Please note that earthquake insurance is not specifically included in the law.

To respond to your concerns, you would need to contact the association’s insurance agent. Generally speaking, insurance companies provide recommended coverages to associations based upon a number of factors, age, location, configuration of the units and buildings, construction, liability issues and claims history. You should be able to obtain answers from the agent.

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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