Ask the HOA Expert: Welcome to the HOA Board!

The annual homeowner association meeting convenes. The president announces that the floor is open for nominations. A fellow homeowner say to you, “You know, you would make a good board member.” Before you have a chance to reply, some body movement indicates that you are willing, ready and able to serve. “The nominations are closed”,…

Ask the HOA Expert: Pruning Perfection

Landscaping is a homeowner association asset that can and should improve with age. However, diligent attention is required in order to make this happen. Skilled maintenance work, along with occasional and ongoing improvement work are essential. Skilled shrub pruning is one of the most important requirements of a sound maintenance program. Selective cutting sustains a…

Nightmare Neighbor: Disturbing Marijuana

Question: I live in a high-rise condo I purchased a few years ago. A month after I moved in, I learned why the former owner was eager to sell and took my first (low) offer. The neighbor with whom I share a common wall smokes marijuana. Every time he lights up, he fills my unit…

Ask the HOA Expert: Gutters That Work

Rain gutters are an inconspicuous but necessary building component that homeowner associations deal with. Their need to perform consistently triggers ongoing maintenance and repair to themselves, exterior paint, siding, roofs and trees. Failure to keep the gutter system running smoothly causes overflows, water intrusion, interior damage, structural dryrot and enormously expensive repairs. There is a…

Lease Restrictions and Obtaining the 2/3 Majority Vote

Quesiton: I am the president of a 230-unit condominium. Our Board has imposed a 13% restriction on the number of leased units in the building; our declaration is silent on that subject, offering only a restriction on the number of times a unit can be leased in a 12-month period. The number of leased units…

Ask the HOA Expert: Professional Management Perks

All too often a homeowner association board of directors approaches problems as would a renter looking after the apartment building…reacting by crisis rather than by a long range plan. Guess what? Many HOAs are in constant turmoil because of this approach. A professional HOA manager can smooth out the bumps in this rocky road by…

Ask the HOA Expert: Recoat of Many Colors

Of all roofing designs used in homeowner associations, flat roofs are the most problematic, particularly in rain, wind or snow prone areas. The need for consistent and quality maintenance is extremely important for maximum performance and longest life. Recoating builtup flat roofs is a fundamental preventive maintenance which should be performed at least every five…

HOA Landlord Rules

One of the issues that many HOAs grapple with is renters. Some ban them outright, others limit their number. Most live and let live. Interestingly, the HOA has no direct legal authority over renters, only its members. This disconnect creates some practical problems for the board or manager in communicating with tenants since there is…

Using Independent Contractors

Question: It has been the practice at our condominium for the Board to permit independent contractors to work on our common elements without proof they are licensed or that they are properly insured (workers comp. and liability coverage). Everything I have read makes it clear it is important that the association not operate in this…

Insurance and Animal Bites

Question: My condominium association is overrun with dogs. We are concerned that someone will be injured, and we will be sued because we did not impose the proper precautions. What should we do? Answer: Over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, and according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) almost…

Ask the HOA Expert: Rules With Reason

Homeowner associations (HOAs) are the fastest growing form of home ownership in America. In metropolitan markets, they can account for over 2/3rds of all new home construction. As more buyers choose this form of housing, condos and planned communities are becoming a dominant force to be reckoned with. HOAs are quasi-governments that collect mandatory fees…

Condo Property Assessment

Question: I read your column faithfully and was hoping you could address a small issue/question I have. Recently, I received from my association a bill for property tax assessment challenges. It appears the association took it upon themselves to hire a property tax attorney, without notice to the homeowners (or at least, I never received…

Ask the HOA Expert: Board Meetings and Members

Question: We have one unit owner who is requesting copies of the most recent year’s financial records and meeting minutes. He seems to be irate because none of the board meetings were open to the members. We don’t feel that it is appropriate to give him copies of this information although he is welcome to…

Housing Counsel Public Condo Law vs. Private Condo Law

Question: I am the President of a mid-size condominium in Washington. Our Bylaws specifically prohibit short-term rentals of any kind. The board – and most of our members – agree that cutting out short term rentals and subleases of less than a year helps cut down on the move in and out traffic that creates…

Written Contracts are Important in an HOA?

Question: I am a Board member of our Association, and am responsible for landscaping, grounds maintenance and security. Over the years, our Association has had a number of contractors who render service to us — whether this be in the form of snow removal, landscaping services, or trash removal. Some Board members are not happy…