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Homeowner should contact HUD’s Fair Housing office

Q: Believe it or not, you were my first property manager in 1988 at my community. I still live here, and have gone through two dozen or so management companies. I wanted to ask you a question about my association and a serious problem we have with the president.

He has created a nightmare for a disabled 80-year-old woman, in a very discriminatory way.

Our community has three phases. Each one has its own pool and Jacuzzi. After 23 years, out of the clear, blue sky, he removed the closest gate access to her pool.

Originally, he put his own personal padlock on it, locking her out and forcing her to walk an extra 100 feet to the next accessible gate. To make things worse, he later removed the entire gate. The neighbors said his excuse for doing had something to do with the deep end of the pool. The gates at pool Nos. 2 and 3 were not removed.

Why now after 23 years? There has never been an accident or drowning.

This senior citizen bought her investment poolside, and now she cannot access the gate, which she used for 23 years. He made up a bogus rule, and never sent any newsletters to owners for any vote on it. The rules have just been rewritten, and nothing was mentioned about the pool gates. When I have submitted letters to property management for answers, it has yet to answer me. It’s totally discriminatory to come up all of a sudden after 23 years and remove an accessible gate that this lady has used.

A: You should help the resident file a complaint with the Fair Housing/Equal Opportunity office at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which regulates the federal fair housing laws. It does not matter If the property is a HUD one or not. It appears the action taken by the president is in violation of the disability section of the Fair Housing Act (not to be confused with another federal law, known as ADA that applies to public facilities).

The board will have to explain its rationale of removing one of the access gates in only one pool. HUD representatives investigate and would also hear a case if their investigation leads them to believe that a violation has occurred.

HUD officials can expand their investigation to determine if other violations have happened in the community, and they would start by randomly interviewing homeowners and residents as well as the representatives of the management company.

The HUD office can be reached at 800-669-9777 or hud.gov website, which has the appropriate forms and information as to what constitutes housing discrimination.

Q: I have some questions about deposits homeowners associations may require on satellite dishes and other items:

1. Are these deposits required to be held in a trust account, with the HOA homeowners — who deposited the funds — named as the beneficiaries of the account, under NRS116? This would protect the homeowners in case the community files for bankruptcy;

2. Would this trust account be required to be an interest-bearing account? If so, would the homeowners have this earned interest credited to their deposit amount upon being returned? If not, then why?

I want to compliment you on your excellent articles on HOA matters.

A: You would have to contact the management company. No, it doesn’t have to pay you interest on the money, as little as it may be now a days. I don’t know if they have a security deposit trust account. It’s a good idea. I can’t speak for your management company, but I know we have such accounts. And thanks for the compliment.

Q: I wanted to get your thoughts on the new legislation regarding transfer fees. In asking various attorneys for their interpretation of the new law, I have several different answers. Some are telling me that no fees can be charged that are based on the transfer of ownership of the property; others are saying that some associations can collect them and some can’t.

And what about management companies? Some are stating that transfer fees have been completely eliminated and cannot be charged by either management or associations.

I read your column every week and respect your opinion on issues like these. Please let me know what your interpretation is of the new laws. Thank you for your time.

A: If you look at a summary of the transfer fee law, you will see that it explicitly exempts HOAs. So communities can continue to collect transfer fees, etc. The question in dispute is: Can the management company directly collect them, or does the HOA collect them and then pay the management company?

2012 forecast event

The Institute of Real Estate Management will hold a 2012 forecast event Jan. 11 at The Bellagio in the Monet Room from 10 a.m.-noon. Seating begins at
9:30 a.m.

Radio talk show host Heidi Harris will be the master of ceremonies. Guest speakers include John Restrepo, principle, RCG Economics; Rick Myers, president, Thomas & Mack Development; Mike Mullin, president, CEO, Nevada HAND; John Guedry, president, chief operating officer, Bank of Nevada; Michael Young, executive recruiter, Caesars Entertainment; Paul King, corporate director of talent acquisition, Caesars Entertainment; John Knott, CBRE, Global Gaming.

Cost is $55 for preregistration before Jan. 6. There is an additional $15 charge at the door for those with no reservations.

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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