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New water law unclear when it comes to communities

Q: I am the president of our small homeowners association. Our management company is confused as to how to address this new statute. Our homeowners are only responsible for their backyards. The HOA owns the front yards and common areas. It is my understanding the new statute to remove useless grass would pertain to the front yards and would have to be replaced with desert landscaping, but perhaps not to the common walking areas. I have searched all over the Southern Nevada Water Authority website but it is not very specific. Landscapers are giving us conflicting advice as well. Can you clarify??

A: You are not the only one waiting for clarification. I think we all are waiting for direction. It is my understanding the law, which was passed last legislative session, excluded residential owners who own their own property. This would include their front and backyards. Common areas of an association would fall under the new law as to whether your common area landscape is inefficient use of grass.

As to your association, does the association really own the front yard areas, or by your governing documents require to maintain the front yards? If just to maintain them, I think your homes would be excluded, as long as they are owned by the individual homeowners.

I suggest that you obtain written clarification from Southern Nevada Water Authority.

Q: We have a unique problem here at our homeowners association condominium complex of 28 buildings and 112 homeowners. We are supposed to have a board that consists of five members (according to the covenants, conditions and restrictions and bylaws): a president, vice president, treasurer and two board member associate representatives. Unfortunately, right now we only have a board president and two associate representatives with two vacancies. The problem is that financial decisions (punitive ones at that!) are being made exclusively by the board president and his personal friend, the owner and CEO of the management team.

So, the question is: Does the board president by himself have the “jurisdiction and ability” to tell the management team to spend (waste) all 112 homeowners’ money hiring an outside attorney to threaten and strong arm, demand cease and desist (letters) from both homeowners and another board member. The current threat is for the board members to do as they are told to silence them.

There seems to be only two choices here. That CC&Rs and bylaws allow this to happen? I have read them extensively and they say nothing about it. Or, the laws of the state of Nevada allow this? Or, is this simply a matter for the Omnibudsman. Your expertise and wisdom are greatly appreciated here. Thank you.

A: Generally, the management company follows the rules and regulations and the enforcement procedures. Once a homeowner receives their proper notices of violations if they do not comply and resolve their violation, the process would then be brought forward to the board in an executive hearing. The board would be required to vote. In a five-member board, three directors do constitute a quorum.

As to “punitive,” there is state law that guides an association as to the amount of money that can be charged. As a homeowner, you should have received the enforcement policy along with the fine when the 2022 budget was sent to the owners for ratification. If you do not have a copy, request one from the management company.

Under Nevada Revised Statute 116.31031, the amount of the fine should be commensurate with the severity of the violation in accordance with your governing documents. The law states “the amount of the fine must not exceed $ 100 for each violation, or a total amount of $ 1,000 or less. If a fine is not cured within 14 days or longer, depending upon your association’s regulations, the violation is deemed as a continuing one and the association may impose additional fines for the violation for each seven-day period that the violation is not cured.

There are times an association needs the assistance of their attorney in violation matters. Some associations have made a decision that all violation letters be written by their attorney to avoid irregularities with the process.

Barbara Holland is an author and educator on real estate management. Questions may be sent to holland744o@gmail.com.

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