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Homeowner says he was only making a suggestion

Updated August 14, 2017 - 6:18 am

Q: In our May homeowners association meeting I made a recommendation, based on a simple internet search, to the board about a patrol service for the community in light of a national news story about a murdered young girl found at the rear of our complex. The president, treasurer and board members stated they would like to look further into this matter.

I have no professional or business connection to the patrol service I suggested. But just four weeks later I received a cease-and-desist order from the management team’s law firm. It said I have interfered in the procedure and that I am talking directly to vendors (ironically not even hired yet) and I am subject to a lawsuit. The lawyer states I acted like a board member and asked for work to be done. None of this is true and certainly has not happened.

Is there a Nevada law that addresses this? Is there some rule that says no homeowner can make a suggestion to the board during the open meeting as scheduled in the board’s meeting agenda handout? Should I lawyer up? Should I request an executive session meeting prior to the next meeting?

Our covenants, conditions and restrictions and bylaws don’t state that as an egregious Draconian rule. And in speaking with the board’s treasurer when the letter arrived she stated unequivocally to me: “I had no idea the HOA management owner did that to you.” She didn’t follow any protocol and inform me that action took place.

Now, this is something you should print: Does an owner of an HOA management team have the judicial right to go after any homeowner based on innuendo, supposition and mere dislike — aka “witch hunt. Please advise. I always appreciate your professional courtesy.

A: It seems odd that a homeowner making suggestions during the homeowners’ forum would cause a management team to have its legal counsel send a cease-and-desist letter. Since I do not have a copy of that letter, I do not know what prompted it, but it would appear that there is something more that triggered the letter.

I don’t think you need to hire legal counsel but I would recommend that you request a meeting with the board during their executive session to discuss the chain of events that caused the cease and desist to be written.

Q: As president of our HOA, I read one of your recent articles with interest as it has come up in our subdivision.

You indicated that the writer was correct in placing his/her trash cans behind a pony wall, but it would appear to me that as the cans are assumed to be visible, Section 2a says the HOA can prohibit them if they are visible.

I just wanted to confirm that if you place the cans on the side yard, they must be completely shielded from the street or side neighbors assuming the CC&R’s required that? Our CC&R’s specifically state that they cannot be visible from the street.

My concern is that the new agreement with Republic Services trash pickup is now once a week, and we will be receiving two large trash containers instead of the twice-a-week pickup and the ability to use smaller containers. Like most recently built houses, we have minimal space between homes and trying to wheel two containers from the backyard is likely to be problematic, especially with older homeowners. I can see us having problems trying to figure out where to put two large containers that are not visible from the street.

A: First, I would like to note that I had received a number of emails addressing the trash can article that was in my column June 25. I will try to clarify.

When I receive correspondence from a reader, I have to work on the assumption that the reader is providing me with accurate information. The reader did not specifically indicate why the association sent a violation letter when the trash can was, in fact, behind a pony wall. Based upon the reader’s comments, I made the statement that it appeared the reader was in compliance with the law.

There are times when my article is in the newspaper that a board member or homeowner assumes that I was addressing a situation within their community. I did receive an email from a reader who stated that the homeowner had been informed by the board that the top of the trash can was still visible from the street and that the association had informed him to place a planter on top of the wall, which apparently was not done and hence the violation letter was sent.

In responding to an email from another reader, let’s look more closely at the language behind Nevada Revised Statute 116.332. Section 1 states that the association may adopt rules but it also states that the regulations should reasonably restrict the manner in which the containers are stored.

Section 2 (b) (1) states that the containers must be stored in the rear or side yard of the unit, if such locations exist and in such a manner that the containers are screened from view from the street, a sidewalk or any adjacent property. The law continues by stating in section 2 (b) (2) that the association’s rules can include the size, location, color and materials of any device, structure or item used to screen the containers from view. In the original trash container article, the board could justify the planter on top of the wall based upon this section of the law. Not having seen the pony wall, I don’t know whether a planter would or would not be practical; that is for the reader and their association to resolve.

We know that there are associations that will have problems storing the trash cans, which ironically was why the law was passed in the first place: to assist those homeowners who did not want to store the containers inside their garages. In resolving the reader’s issue in this column, his association needs to be open to different options in storing the containers depending upon the layout of their homes.

Hopefully, that’s enough ‘trash talk” from me.

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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