Settlement distribution could depend on vote

Q: My association received a major settlement in a class action lawsuit pertaining to the defective under-slab plumbing. The money was placed in a trust account earning interest.

My question is: Why did they not distribute the money to the homeowners like they did after the first-class action suit? If the funds were distributed to the homeowners, we could choose to perform preventative maintenance before the pipes break and before the price to repair them becomes higher than the $ 5,000 quote.

They told us if the funds are not exhausted prior to Jan. 1, 2016, that the money would be distributed on a prorated basis to the owners who did not elect to opt out of the lawsuit or who had not received payment on a prior claim.

This is so unfair and I want to make it right. Please tell us where we can get justice.

A: Assuming that the settlement agreed upon and approved by the court did not specifically dictate how the funds were to be utilized, the only way that the funds could be distributed to the homeowners now would be by a vote among them.

You would have to start a petition that would require the association to have a special homeowners meeting for the purpose of voting on a resolution that would require the association to distribute the funds to the homeowners.

The petition would require at least 10 percent, or any lower percentage specified in the association’s bylaws, of the voting membership in order for the meeting to be held.

Having a meeting does not mean that the homeowners would approve the proposed resolution. You would have to review the governing documents of the association to determine what constitutes a quorum of the association to conduct business and what percent of the homeowners would have to approve the resolution.

The hard part would be to rally enough homeowners to attend the special meeting that would not only constitute a quorum but would also cast a yes vote for distribution.

If the procedure to repair and to distribute the funds was specifically approved by the court, the homeowner would have to contact legal counsel to see how the court could be petitioned to reverse the procedure to allow immediate distribution of the funds to the homeowners. This would cost time and money.

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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