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Speed bumps cause headache for homeowner

Last Saturday, I talked about a new state law that affects homeowners associations’ disputes. This week, the Nevada Real Estate Division administrator responds:

“Access to the court system is not reserved for those with the wherewithal to afford the process. Nevada law allows indigent litigants to have court fees waived. That right was not allowed to anyone participating in the division-administered arbitration process under Nevada Revised Statute 38. Nevada law did not provide for limits on arbitrator billing rates or subsidies for such fees. Costs of an arbitrator in that process were significant. The high costs were significant enough to make the Nevada Legislature reconsider the mandatory arbitration provisions of NRS 38. Everyone can agree that some form of alternative dispute resolution should be required before proceeding to court. NRS 38 now requires mediation or participation in the referee program. Mediation is much less expensive than arbitration and the cost for mediation is now expressly limited. By removing the mandatory arbitration provision, the complaining party will know how much they will have to pay to go through the process.

“The referee program is encouraged by the division to give owners and associations the option of getting a decision from an attorney without having to spend several thousands of dollars. Sometimes having a knowledgeable third party give a decision based on the law is enough to settle an issue. The division received a lot of positive feedback from participants of the pilot program the ombudsman’s office used last year that was similar to the referee program put into NRS 38. Of course, NRS 38 does not require participation in the referee program if one party refuses, so time will tell how effective it will be as an alternative dispute resolution option.

“The division also provides mediation services through the ombudsman. Sharon Jackson, the division’s new ombudsman, offers an informal conference to anyone who files an intervention affidavit. Ms. Jackson is a certified and experienced mediator. The division sees high success rates with the informal conference process when both sides agree to meet with the ombudsman in the spirit of finding a resolution through compromise.

“The division strongly encourages conferencing with the ombudsman before proceeding to the ADR (alternative dispute resolution) program in the hope that a resolution is possible without any cost to the parties. The division certainly does not like to see homeowner association disputes end up in the court system, but at the same time significantly hindering access to the court system is not fair. Some disputes cannot be worked out by the parties and for those disputes the court system should be available.

Q: I am writing to you for advice on how to obtain information about two speed bumps that were installed in my community. The two speed bumps were removed because of resurfacing of the streets and were not reinstalled.

My vehicle has sustained extensive damage because of the size of the speed bumps: both front axles had to be replaced, front and rear shocks, and the power and rack and pinion steering have leaks sustained from the bottom front of the vehicle scraping the speed bumps. There may be other damage found once the mechanic starts fixing these items.

I believe these speed bumps were a building-code violation and this is the reason they were not reinstalled.

The damage to my vehicle will run close to $1,000. I will be submitting these bills to the community HOA for reimbursement. However, I need to obtain an inspection report showing that the speed bumps were a code violation. Where would I go to get this information?

A: Contact code enforcement at the county or city to obtain a copy of the ordinance.

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 the Association Q&A, P.O. Box 7440, Las Vegas, Nev., 89125. Fax is 702-385-3759, email is support@hlrealty.com.

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