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HOA should hire attorney to collect funds

Editor’s note: The first letter is a response to Barbara’s column Jan. 2.

Q: I wish your article would have gone a little further. While the homeowners association is bound by privacy laws that may prevent disclosure about individual delinquency issues, the information is public record at the county recorder’s office.

Homeowners who wish to know the status of properties within their subdivision can start by searching the recorder’s Web site database using the name of their HOA and/or the property and the type of information desired.

I am having difficulty in assessing how we are reimbursed for unpaid dues. It is my understanding that we are, under the current law, entitled to up to nine months of unpaid dues, late fees and interest. In a foreclosure, no fines may be collected. What about chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcies? We also have homeowners that are current with their mortgage but have not paid their property taxes or monthly assessments. If these properties are foreclosed on by us or the county, would an existing mortgage holder intercede? How might this impact our collections?

A: The reader is correct that legal action would appear if recorded with the county recorder’s office. What would not appear is any agreement to make payment arrangements, or negotiations or disputes as to late fees, legal fees and fines. A homeowner reviewing the county’s records may not always have the complete picture.

Whether an association can collect any funds from a chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcies depends on the homeowner’s assets. There are attorneys who specialize in collections that you should contact to learn more about the various scenarios where an association may be able to collect funds. Whoever purchases or forecloses on the home, the new owner would be required to pay nine months worth of back assessments incurred by the previous owner.

If your association has owners who have not paid their assessments and are not in bankruptcy and/or foreclosure by their mortgage company, then your association should begin foreclosure. If the association forecloses on the homeowners, the association would try to sell the home.

The association is not liable for the mortgage payments since the association never signed any loan documents with the lender. If the home was not sold, the lender would eventually foreclose on the association. If the lender is able to sell the home for more than the mortgage balance and selling costs, the surplus funds would go to the last owner of record, which would be the association. If the lender forecloses, the association could submit a bill for the last nine months of delinquent assessment.

Q: Can the board be held libel if they fail to provide adequate security to the homeowners and their property?

A: NRS 116.31036 subsection 2, states, “Members of the executive board are not personally liable to the victims of crimes occurring on the property.”

Can the association be liable? Yes. Anyone can sue and decisions will be based upon reasonable standards or custom of the profession, i.e. what actions most associations would take if given the same circumstances and upon the facts of the series of events or event.

Security services can be extremely costly, especially considering 24/7 service. This could significantly raise dues. Having security guards does not mean you will decrease crime.

What is the layout of your community? Is there more than one entrance, is it completely opened or does it have perimeter walls around the homes? How effective will one patrol officer be based upon the physical structure of your community? Do you have facilities on site for the officer for his breaks, such as bathrooms or will the officer need to leave the community? Would drive-by service be effective while containing the cost of the service? Can an officer bike through the community as opposed to walking it?

These are the kinds of questions that you have to ask and to explore the possibilities with the security companies.

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

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