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HOAs can fine homeowners but can’t force them to follow rules

Q: I am a Realtor in Las Vegas and have lived in a homeowners association community for 22 years. Early last year the HOA sent out detailed deviations to all homeowners with a timeline for completion/response.

This year, our HOA has let homes have weeds as tall as a child, brown lawns, dead palm trees in yards, and our area looks terrible. I brought it to the attention of the HOA with photos of homes with dead palm trees and high weeds, etc. I always receive the same response: “We are dealing with this through our penalty phase.”

Meanwhile, our HOA allows our homeowners to do nothing, and the values are being impacted. Is there any recourse?

A: Unfortunately, associations have limited sanctions. Fining a homeowner does not necessarily mean that the homeowner will comply. Many associations have a policy when a homeowner accumulates a certain amount of fines, they are sent to collections for a lien to be placed on their home. Since March, associations have been placed on a holding pattern as to fining homeowners and or sending them to collections to have a lien placed on the homes for non-payment of fines.

Per law, your board cannot disclose the specifics of each homeowner’s violations. I know that hearing “we are following due process” can be frustrating but homeowner records are considered confidential per Nevada Revised Statute 116.31175 (4b).

Q: Your column concerning the towing of vehicles is of interest to me. I live in a condominium complex in which street parking is prohibited in the bylaws, which are agreed to when purchasing the unit. Each unit has its own garage. Is management able to tow a street-parked vehicle in this case?

A: If the community has private streets and not public streets, yes, the association can tow the parked vehicle.

Q: I recently read a response you gave to a person asking about confidentiality. In your response, you referred to NRS 116.31175, (4b). I have two related scenarios.

1.) A homeowner is receiving some HOA violation letters. The homeowner does some research and finds out that other homeowners seem to have the same violations but those owners are not receiving any notices. What rights does that homeowner have that would enable him/her to see, in writing, whether or not other homeowners are being cited for the same violation(s)? In short, this goes to unfair treatment.

2.) If a homeowner suspects a resident of violating a HOA rule and reports that to the HOA board, does the resident being accused have a right to know who the accuser is?

A: Under NRS 116.31175 (5), a homeowner can request a copy of the general violation record of the community. The law states the association is to maintain a general record concerning each violation of the governing documents other than a violation involving a failure to pay an assessment, fine or construction penalty. The general record should contain a general description of the nature of the violation and the type of sanction imposed. If the sanction imposed a fine or construction penalty, the general record must specify the amount. The general record must not contain the name, address or any other personal information that would allow one to identify the homeowner or the location of the home that is associated with the fine. The general record must be maintained in an organized and convenient filing system or data system that allows a homeowner to search and review the general records concerning violations.

Whether or not the other homeowners want to disclose if they have received violation notices, the general records will at least allow you to see how many homes received similar violations.

When a homeowner reports a violation, management companies and boards generally want verification of the alleged violation. Violations with photographs (such as vehicle park on the sidewalk) are easier to deal with then a homeowner having a direct issue with his neighbor. If the personal violation requires an eventual hearing fine notice, the homeowner who has filed the complaint would need to testify at the hearing. It is part of due process.

Barbara Holland is a certified property manager and holds the supervisory community manager certificate with the state of Nevada. She is an author and educator on real estate management. Questions may be sent to holland744o@gmail.com.

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