Q: I read with considerable interest your column on June 2017. It points out that HOAs are of no value. They can fine for violations of covenants, conditions and restrictions, but they have no authority to collect. They can put a lien on the house, but then what happens? We get hundreds of “Higher Ground” lawsuits, which cost all homeowners a huge amount of money. It is a sad state of affairs when homeowners have to pay someone to take pictures of weeds, trash cans and paint not conforming to strict codes, etc.
A: With all due respect, associations do have value. Starting with the fundamental value, associations provide housing. For many associations, their amenities, such as basketball courts, tennis courts, volley ball courts, exercise facilities, swimming pools and spas, recreational rooms for association and private events, (which may have a rental charge) billiards, etc., are included in their regular assessments, saving hundreds of dollars as homeowners can skip joining athletic clubs.
Association regulations do help to increase the market value of homes as homeowners do receive violations concerning the appearance of their homes and front lawns. When I bought my first house, we had one of those associations that did have covenants but no enforcement other than for homeowners to directly file complaints to their municipalities or to the courts. (They were not called LMAs, or land maintenance association, at that time). I eventually sold my house because of my next-door neighbor, who never maintained her landscape and parked her vehicles on it; and whose home badly needed a paint job. Just drive around Southern Nevada and you will find many housing areas that look like my neighbor’s home.
It may surprise many readers that in my experience, close to 90 percent of the homeowners, who receive their first violation courtesy letters do comply. Often, residents are not aware they have violated an association regulation, especially renters whose investor/owners and or managers fail to provide association guidelines. In collecting fines, associations can place liens on the home, which does impact resales, refinancing and many businesses or insurance policies that review a homeowner’s financial status.
You refer to the Higher Ground lawsuits; and there are many other lawsuits pertaining to the foreclosure of a home by associations. These suits are separate and distinct from violation fines. My column has addressed this topic many times. We have seen numerous court decisions and legislative action over the past four years. Just briefly and simply stated, these lawsuits evolved over the interpretation of what constituted the nine-month assessments, (superliens). Did they include late, legal, interest and collection costs to whether associations had the right to extinguish a lender’s loan due to non-payment of the nine-month assessment? These conflicts are still ongoing, although there have been changes in the law which, going forward, have stopped potential future lawsuits.
As to your comment of what a mess, I agree. My landscape company after cutting my lawns and trimming my trees were told to please perform the same service on my next-door neighbor’s home at my expenses. When the fence had to be painted between the two homes, we painted both sides. It was my husband, some friends and me while I was at five months pregnant at the time. Finally, enough was enough. We moved to another community, one that had a board and a management company that could enforce the association’s regulations and protect the value of my home. I am sure that I am not the only one who has such a story.
Q: I just finished reading the April 20 Las Vegas Review-Journal “Health District Gives HOA Pool Tips.” Thanks for the article, it contained a lot of useful information. I live in a condo and I have seen people let their dogs go in the pool. The water in one of the pools looks green. There is dirt in piles on the bottom of the pools and spa. Who/where can I report homeowners association pool code violations to see that they are corrected?
A: You can first contact your homeowner association, especially if you do not know the owner of the dog swimming in the pool. Otherwise, contact Southern Nevada Health District, which regulates aquatic facilities.
Q: Can a board member make a motion to add increased assessment fees after a budget has been passed for the following calendar year by the full board of directors?
A: According to legal counsel, new budgets always require ratification. If the original budget is ratified but then changes are made that alter the amount of the assessments, then the revised budget needs to be ratified. If the amount of the assessment does not change an argument can be made that an additional ratification is not required.
Barbara Holland is a certified property manager, broker and supervisory certified association manager. Questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.