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HOA board can respond to owner’s letter

Q: We are an Arizona homeowners association. Approximately 50 homes are in the development with the potential to add 25 more. Those 25 empty lots are owned by an investor who lives in another state. The builder will buy one lot, develop it, sell it then buy another lot and do the same thing all over again.

We recently had an HOA meeting which was attended by 10 home/lot owners at the most. Because of some pressing and expensive repair work needed and a limited reserve, a special assessment was discussed at the meeting. It was decided that the owners would be sent a ballot asking each to approve this special assessment. A letter advising each of the amount in the reserve account and what projects would be undertaken using the money and the approximate cost of each project.

An absentee lot owner sent an email suggesting a specific repair be discussed at the next board meeting. It so happens that what he suggested is one of the major projects that needs to be done and would be addressed with the funds from the special assessment.

Since the above was discussed at an open meeting, I saw no reason not to write back to this person and tell him of the discussion and the plan to remedy the issue. To make sure I wasn’t saying something I shouldn’t, I ran it past our property management company. I was told that all home/lot owners must be treated equally. Just because he did not attend the meeting, it was not OK to give him a detailed response unless I was going to send my response to all the homeowners. Is that accurate?

A number of the residents that have been here for a while do not understand the property manager’s roll or the roll of the board. Consequently, they dislike everyone and they are pretty vocal (among themselves) about it.

One more question: Can the board direct the property management company to obtain at least three bids for things like insurance, landscaping services, pool services and the like? We have been cruising along with the same vendors for a long time and I’ve never seen any bids from any over providers.

A: Let me address the second question first. It is not necessary that an association obtains bids each year for their regular services such as insurance, landscape or pool companies, etc. Often associations will ask for bids because the boards or their homeowners are unhappy with the services of their vendors or if the boards want to compare prices with services of comparable companies.

As to the first question, you not indicate whether you are a board member or just a member of the association. If this was a letter addressed to the board, a response could have been made to that one homeowner. It is not necessary to send the same letter to all of the homeowners. There may be some value in sharing that information to all of the homeowners but that would be a board decision.

If you are not on the board and chose to send a letter to the absent homeowner, you would not be responsible for sending that response to all of the homeowners.

Barbara Holland is a certified property manager, broker and supervisory certified association manager. Questions may be sent to holland744o@gmail.com.

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