HOA bill to address maintenance of security walls within communities

EDITOR’S NOTE: Today’s column will address a homeowners association bill that will be presented before the 2009 Legislature, which begins Feb. 2 in Carson City.

Sen. Mike Schneider, D- Las Vegas, has prefiled Senate Bill 68 that establishes the responsibility for the maintenance of certain security walls within an association, subdivision and developments.

This proposed bill would amend NRS 116. It states the association is responsible for the maintenance, repair and replacement of any security wall that is located within the community and abuts the common area.

NRS 271.203 defines security walls as any wall composed of stone, brick, concrete, concrete blocks, masonry or similar building material together with footings, pilasters, outriggers, grillwork, gates and other appurtenances constructed around the perimeter of a residential subdivision. The structures are considered with respect to a final map that has been recorded, per NRS 278.40 to 278.460 inclusive to protect the several tracts of the subdivision and their occupants from vandalism.

NRS 278.360- 278.460 pertains to the requirements for presentation of the final map or series of the final maps of property.

This proposed law would also include limited-purpose associations that were created for the maintaining of the landscape of the common area of the community.

The proposed law would also amend NRS 278.4787 pertaining to governmental bodies assuming the obligation of the maintenance of the security wall.

A maintenance district would be created that would be responsible for the repair and replacement of any security wall which is located in the development or subdivision and abuts landscaping.

The law describes how an association could petition, for example the county, to take over the responsibility of the security walls.

This proposed law has some serious side effects.

First, many of the associations, especially single-family developments, by deed, establishes the ownership of the perimeter walls to the homeowners, who have purchased their homes and their lots.

The homeowner owns the walls and not the association, consequently, the maintenance of the walls is the responsibility of the homeowner and not the association.

Now the proposed law does not state that the association owns the walls, just that it must maintain the walls.

But, here is the second side effect, associations will have to modify their reserve studies to include hundreds of linear footage of fencing that they must now maintain.

The funding of the reserves for these walls will cause the associations to increase monthly fees in order to meet the new reserve requirements.

Finally, the maintenance of these walls would require the association to enter onto private property, which by itself is a problem.

In addition, associations’ operating budgets would also increase, separate and distinct from the increase in reserve funding, in order to repair the walls that may have been damaged by the individual homeowner’s landscaping in their yards.

Homeowners do not need additional financial and maintenance responsibilities of these security walls that have been deeded to the property owner.

These perimeter walls do not really protect the occupants from vandalism as described in the proposed law.

In fact, any graffiti on the walls would now become the responsibility of the association. A perimeter-wall community is not a gated community where all of the sides of the property are enclosed.

This is a bill that the legislators should kill in committee. Contact your senators and voice your opinion on this issue.

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 Association Q.&A., P.O. Box 7440, Las Vegas, NV 89125. Her fax number is 385-3759, or she can be reached by e-mail at support@hlrealty.com.

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