State office for HOAs emphasizes role of education

Homeowners associations don’t come with instructions, although many residents wish they did.

Directors find themselves taking on a complex set of duties for which there is considerable responsibility and possibly stern consequences for irresponsible or incompetent performance — and no formal training.

Homeowners, too, learn through trial and error what their rights and responsibilities are.

Education can make a big difference. It can help an association comply with the law, offer a framework for a resident to understand how decisions and rules are made, and explain the general concept of decision-making and discretion that a director must exercise.

There are also practical tips for common challenges faced by associations and their members.

There’s no shortage of educational opportunities and most of them are free.

One of the best places to start is with the Office of the Ombudsman for Owners in Common-Interest Communities and Condominium Hotels, which offers education through classroom presentations and a series of publications.

Classes are presented several times per month (slowing down over the summer to update teaching materials).

Upcoming dates include Tuesday’s class covering elections, meetings and record keeping; a May 18 class on fiscal matters and reserves; and a June 4 class outlining the roles of directors, officers, residents and managers.

A full list of dates is available online at http://red.state.nv.us/cic/Calendars/omb_seminars.pdf.

Interested people may also call 702-486-4480 or 877-829-9907 and ask for the Ombudsman’s education staff.

A fourth class, starting in late summer, will summarize the changes to the law from the current Nevada legislative session, focusing on changes most important to unit owners and directors.

The Ombudsman also sponsors classes taught by independent contractors and focused on the more technical aspects of association governance, including how to understand the financial business of an association; how to read and use a reserve study; and why insurance, maintenance and risk management are critical to all residents of an association.

Classes are taught at varying times of the week and in all four corners of the Las Vegas Valley, all three corners of Clark County and both halves of the state (north and south).

For those who can’t find a class date to suit them, the Ombudsman has developed a series of self-help guides. Beyond acting as an alternative for people who prefer to learn on their own schedule, each one is a handy reference for residents seeking clarification on the particulars of a given subject.

Finally, HOAs that need clarification on a matter involving NRS 116 may contact the Nevada Real Estate Division’s Compliance section at 702-486-4480 and ask to speak with an investigator.

HOA living and HOA governance require a little more knowledge than basic homeownership, but there are resources available for those who want them.

Nicholas R. Haley is the education and information officer for the Office of the Ombudsman for Owners in Common-Interest Communities and Condominium Hotels, a component of the Nevada Real Estate Division. Contact him at nhaley@red.state.nv.us.

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