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Foreclosured home causes neighborhood eyesore

Q: I have a house in a beautiful golf-course community where houses are selling for $4 million to $8 million. Several months ago, the residents of a house moved out and the water must be turned off because all the grass and flowers died. Now, all the shrubs and trees, too. All other houses have glorious landscaping that is kept sharp and neat. It appears as though the house is in foreclosure and the bank has just left the landscape water system off.

This is such an unfortunate occurrence as it truly is a blight on the whole street. We have a homeowners association that is very involved and exceedingly proactive. We also have a lot in the neighborhood on another street and we get letters from the HOA a couple times a year to clean the “weeds” off the lot (the letter is accompanied by a photo). The “weeds” are a few wild flowers, that are quite attractive and a very small smattering of local plant species. Each time we get a letter, we send our gardener over there to spend 10 to 15 minutes cleaning up the “weeds.”

However, now there is this landscaping that is being left to completely die off and rot. I think it’s quite a shame that the minuscule lot condition is so highly adjudicated (and there is little cost to anyone as it is a 1 on a scale of 100, 100 being the worst) and the house is closer to 100.

A: In 2009, the state Legislature addressed this issue when it passed NRS 116.310312. Section 2 of this law allows an association to enter the grounds of a unit whether or not it is vacant to take any of the following actions if the unit’s owner refuses or fails to take any action or comply with any requirement imposed on the unit’s owner within the time specified by the association as a result of a hearing: (a) maintain the exterior of the unit with the standards set forth in the governing documents (b) remove or abate a public nuisance on the exterior of the unit which is visible from any common area of the community or public streets or threatens the health or safety of the residents of the community of results in blighting or deterioration of the unit or surrounding areas and adversely affects the use and the enjoyment of the nearby units.

Now many governing documents already have a section whereby an association could maintain a home, after following the proper due process of notification and hearing. What the law did was to create a maintenance “super lien” in section 6. Now, an association could spend association money to properly maintain, for example, the front yard, knowing that whoever ends up owning the property would be required to reimburse the association all of its costs.

Now, unlike the idiotic 9 month super lien battle, this law explicitly stated that the association’s maintenance lien included not only the cost to maintain but also interest, collection fees, etc.

In addition, in section 8, the law stated that if the association or its representatives enter the grounds of a unit to maintain the property that they would not be liable for trespass. That was a major change along with the maintenance super lien that obviously one would not find in their governing documents. The law gave some “teeth” in support of those associations that did have maintenance sections in their governing documents.

Section 7 stated that a person who purchases or acquires a unit at a foreclosure sale is bound by the governing documents of the association and shall maintain the exterior of the unit.

Also in 2009, the Legislature passed laws that allow the municipalities (i.e., our cities and counties) to take similar action whereby these homes could be fined in addition to the association’s rights to maintain the property.

Your association board should take action by addressing the problem and following the due process afforded to them by this law.

Barbara Holland, certified property manager, broker and supervisory certified association manager, is president and owner of H&L Realty and Management Co. Questions may be sent to the Association Q&A, P.O. Box 7440, Las Vegas, NV 89125. Fax is 702-385-3759, email is support@hlrealty.com.

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