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HOA rules tough on homeowners with smaller backyards

Q: I really enjoy reading your column, as it is interesting and educational.

We have a homeowners association that has a set formula for front and rear landscaping and hardscaping.

We have a small backyard, so the formula has a greater effect on our dream backyard then those with larger backyards, especially when adding a pool and spa. We have talked to others in our community who have small backyards, and they are upset because they have to get a small pool or add rocks in areas where they would like to place outdoor furniture.

The HOA is still under the developers, and we have only one resident on the board. What can we do to get this formula revised so that it will allow greater flexibility so that homeowners with small backyards can have their dream outdoor space?

I was thinking of getting all the homeowners to sign a petition, but the problem with that is homeowners with small backyard are in the minority. In addition, we have two hotels in the community, and I was told that each hotel has a vote for each room in their hotel, so one hotel has 400 rooms and therefore, 400 votes.

Also, since we haven’t received approval for our backyard plan, I didn’t want to suffer any reprisal for bucking the system.

A: It appears the formula is probably part of either the covenants, conditions and restrictions or the architectural guidelines, which most likely would require formal process to amend. Your rules probably have specific setbacks, which is why the larger pools cannot be located on the lots.

Because this association is still under the control of the developer, you would need to request either a change in the governing documents or ask for a case-by-case variance. A petition, per se, will not require the developer nor the board to make any changes.

Q: I am a director on a master board that includes 16 subdivisions. I love being involved in the community.

We have private streets. We have a lot of speeding and cars that do not stop at a sign approaching a roads with a fairly dangerous curve.

I had a sign put up that reads: “Slow, hidden driveway.” The stop sign is in plain view, and I had our vendor paint a large white line with the word “stop” in front.

When there is a traffic violation, video, reports to the master HOA and the owner become part of a hearing. The owner is then fined $100.

If this involves a tenant, she and the owner are notified with a warning letter and informed that if it happens again, they will be called to a hearing and fined $100. Our CC&Rs and the ombudsman state that the tenant is not to be given special privileges over the owner of the property.

I brought this to the attention of the 16-member board, and they agreed. I was advised that Nevada Revised Statute 116.31175 allows the tenant to be warned the first time with no fine unless it happens again. I can’t find the definition in the NRS rules.

I feel that a violation of the law is just that — owner or tenant. Sometimes, our tenants have been here longer than the owner and are very familiar with the rules. Where in the NRS rules am I wrong?

A: You are referring to NRS 116.31031 (2), which states the board may not impose a fine against a unit owner for a violation committed by an invitee of the unit owner or the tenant unless the unit owner participated in or authorized the violation, had prior notice of the violation or had an opportunity to stop the violation and failed to do so.

This law does not prohibit the association from calling the owner and the tenant to a hearing. You just cannot fine the homeowner.

By calling for a hearing, it places the owner and the tenant on notice that the board considers the violation to be a serious health and safety one. It allows for face-to-face communication and for a warning that the next offense will be a hearing/fine notice.

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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