HOA repair turns into long paperwork shuffle

Q: I am currently the president of our homeowners association board. I joined the board two years ago due in part to issues that occurred with our prior management company.

Issues that included incomplete or missing documentation. In November 2009, the HOA board reviewed all vendors and, among changes in insurance carrier and landscaper, we selected another management company.

In 2006, there had been a structural project started to refurbish the balconies. A, B and C units have fenced rear patio areas. The HOA is responsible for the upkeep of the fence. The D unit has a balcony that extends over the garage.

Originally the assessment was assigned to the D unit owners. However after the project was reviewed, it was determined that the structural repair issue was actually the responsibility of the HOA and the cost of the project was spread across all units.

One homeowner disagreed with the way the rules were applied and refused to pay the assessment.

He has addressed this issue in board meetings, through letters and then, in August 2010, we had a meeting at the ombudsman’s office with an ombudsman representative, myself, the homeowner and a management company staffer.

Since the issue was outside the 12-month window for action, the ombudsman office was willing to act as mediator but was not going to review and rule on the matter.

We once again supplied the information request with the exception of documentation that was not supplied by the prior management company. We even extended the length of time the homeowner would have to pay because we did not have that original documentation.

A request was sent to the prior company regarding missing documentation.

There was no response. We stated in that meeting that if the debt wasn’t paid by the fourth quarter, we would begin the collection process. The homeowner agreed.

The fourth quarter occurred. The debt was not paid. We proceeded with collections.

The homeowner responded by sending another letter asking the same questions and stating that he’s asked for this information before and never received it.

Our manager once again responded with the full information and copies of previous communications.

This matter has gone on for four years and crosses two boards and three management companies. Each time the homeowner returns to the original complaint.

Is there a nuisance protocol that we can follow?

Something that eliminates the HOA’s need to respond over and over with the same records?

We don’t want to take any of our HOA funds to pay for an attorney so were willing to leave it as is — the lien is on the property and eventually we’ll get the funds.

We are not willing to continue playing this paperwork game with homeowner. It’s a frivolous use of our time and is costing us money.

None of the board members want to eliminate his right to due process. We just don’t think we should be held hostage to his view of the world.

Any help or recommendations would be appreciated.

A: Send the homeowner one more polite, but strong letter with the basic facts and sequence of events.

Let the homeowner know what is due to the association and that if not paid, the lien will be not be released against his unit.

Finish the letter by stating that the board considers this a closed case. It will then be the homeowner’s move as to what steps he is willing to take as to initiating any legal action against the association.

You need to work on that assumption, so it is extremely important that you have all of your supporting documentation.

Barbara Holland, certified property manager, is president and owner of H&L Realty and Management Co. To ask her a question, email support@hlrealty.com.

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