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When can a board member enter an owner’s garage?

Note: The Las Vegas chapter of the Institute of Real Estate Management is presenting successful site management classes (RES201) July 13-15, July 20-21 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the exam scheduled for July 22. This course is designed for all management team members covering residential site management. Register at irem.org or call 410-2737.

Q: Our board has publicly stated it requires registration of the garage for its actual use and a police order for the board allow one of its representatives to legally enter for violation(s) inspection(s). We would like to know if a board can enter a garage to see if it is used as a garage, has not been modified for other purposes and has vehicles parked in the garage filling the space before parking other family vehicles in the driveway as required by our covenants, conditions and restrictions.

A: There are some governing documents that do allow an association to enter into an owner’s home under certain conditions, generally for emergencies to protect people and property as specified in the covenants, conditions and restrictions.

As to your specific issue, I have not heard of any such registration; your governing documents should be enough since that is a recorded document. I have never heard of a police order allowing entry.

The board has two choices. A letter can be sent to all owners informing that there will be an inspection of all garages or a letter can be sent to those owners who the board believes is violating the regulation. In my opinion, inspecting all of the garages will prevent any owner from saying that the board is harassing him or her or discriminating against him or her.

Q: Our townhome development has 108 units, with 40 percent rentals. Many of these renters use the complex much as they would an apartment complex with little regard for the covenants, conditions and restrictions and homeowners association rules which once defined our neighborhood as a community. Crime, vandalism and excessive speeding are becoming commonplace. We have researched our governing documents and cannot find any clauses clearly limiting the number of rentals and have read that state statutes currently prohibit this policy. Therefore, would we be able to establish a residence restriction whereby all future buyers must reside on the property for a specified period of time? This restriction would then be communicated in writing to all potential investors and hopefully act as a deterrent. Also, is it possible to levy a monthly tenant surcharge on homeowners to help offset some of the new repair bills we are incurring with the influx of renters? We are no longer the complex we once were prior to the foreclosure crisis and just want our community and sense of safety back.

A: The answers to both of your questions are no. You cannot circumvent the law as to imposing any residential restrictions as a way to avoid new rentals.

There is a state statute in NRS 116 that allows an association to assess additional fees to homeowners who are receiving specific benefits that are not available to the homeowners, at large. For example, there may be a limited number of garages. In your case, you need to charge the damages that are occurring, as a result of tenants, to the specific investors/owners. A super lien can be recorded against their units for damages that the association had to pay if the homeowners did not reimburse the association. Obviously, the difficulty is proving who caused the damage.

Barbara Holland, CPM, and Supervisory CAM, is president of H&L Realty and Management Co. To ask her a question, e-mail support@hlrealty.com. To view a power point presentation of the new laws that were recently passed affecting HOAs, visit hlrealty.com, click on press release button on the left side, then click on article title, “The 2009 Legislation for common interest communities.”

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