Question: Our board is looking for better ways to communicate to the members by establishing a website. If we decide to distribute the board minutes and other information via a website, is that in itself sufficient? Or, does the board have an obligation to continue to use mail?
Answer: Unless there is a requirement in your governing documents or state law to mail communications, using a website and email are marvelous ways to economize, improve and expand HOA communications. Since the majority of your members already have the ability to receive information by email, converting them should be relatively easy and could save significant cost each year. While some are used to getting paper, it’s the message and not the medium that matters. Technology and economy are on your side.
Question: At a recent annual meeting, a unit owner gave his proxy to his daughter who voted on behalf of her father. However, the daughter was nominated by another unit owner to run for the board and was actually voted in. Our governing documents say that only owners can be board members.
Answer: Since the daughter is not an owner, she was not eligible to run for election or serve on the board. The proxy allowed her to vote on behalf of her father only, nothing more. This error should be corrected immediately.
Question: A unit owner asked for permission to enclose his carport space like a garage. Is that okay?
Answer: There are several concerns:
1. Carports are not built to the same structural standards as garages.
2. Since there are no side walls, carport spaces are typically narrower than what would be necessary for a garage door.
3. Installing side walls on one carport space would restrict maneuvering for the neighbors.
4. Will there be power and heating issues? If so, how will utilities be provided without the HOA paying for them?
5. This will set a precedent that is likely to encourage other similar requests.
While the desire for additional security and storage is understandable, carports are not designed to become garages and installing one would adversely affect the neighbors and curb appeal. The many downsides point against this kind of precedent.
Question: I bought a home in a 27 lot subdivision several years ago. Now, some of the owners are talking about forming an HOA. Do I have to join or obey their rules if I don’t? Am I grandfathered in?
Answer: You cannot be forced to join a proposed homeowner association after you have bought already in. Homeowner associations are mandatory membership organizations that exist before you buy in. If you buy property in a pre-existing homeowner association, you are automatically subject to its authority.
If what your neighbors are proposing is a voluntary organization, you can join or not join as you please. If you don’t, the organization has no legal authority over you or your property.
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