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…

Pro-Active or Reactive Architectural Review

Question: I recently heard the terms “pro-active” and “reactive” as it applies to Architectural Review. Apparently, pro-active is when the community announces walk-throughs to look for problems, and reactive is when the community relies on reports by neighbors who see alleged violations. What are your views on “pro-active” enforcement? Answer: Several years ago, I wrote…

Real Estate Referrals, Again

A few weeks ago, we discussed the topic of paying real estate referrals to unlicensed persons. In the course of our discussion we made reference to the differences between California law and federal law under the Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act (RESPA). The salient difference was that, whereas RESPA widely prohibits the payment of…

What if There is No Board?

Question: I live in a 50 unit condominium where, for the last several years, every board we elected got to fighting among themselves and accomplished nothing. Our place is a shambles and our delinquencies are increasing. We have (or I should say “had”) a five-person board, but one by one they all have resigned. We…

Ask the HOA Expert: HOA Know How

When you purchase into a homeowner association (HOA), you automatically become a member and obligate yourself to financially support the operation and obey the rules. That said, few buyers take the time to examine the information to make an informed decision. Here are some of the basic Know Hows: HOA Fees. As a member of…

Ask the HOA Expert: Mushroom Meetings

Some homeowner association (HOA) boards have been accused of using the Mushroom Method in dealing with members: “Keep them in the dark and feed them manure”. Board meetings are held to address important business and should be open to the members. It only makes sense. Doing business behind closed doors only breeds suspicion. However, there…

Why Get Involved?

Q. I have lived in my community association for a number of years. Unlike the horror stories we occasionally read about regarding bad Boards or illogical enforcement of covenants, our community seems to be working fine. We have a good board of directors and a competent manager. One of our long time board members plans…

Updating an HOA Reserve Study

A reserve study is an indispensable planning tool to schedule major renovation and systematically raise the money to pay for it without the use of special assessments. It is also extremely important to update the reserve study each and every year since there are many moving parts that change each year and impact both the…

Housing Counsel: The Future of Community Associations

What do drones, copyrights and mold have in common? According to USI Insurance Services, a national insurance company with over 150 offices throughout the country, these are some of the emerging trends that associations are – or will be — facing in the years to come. They all impact the financial well-being – and the…

HOA Rules Rule

According to the Community Associations Institute, some 50 million Americans live in homeowner association communities. HOAs are quasi-government entities that are responsible for maintaining services and shared amenities plus collecting the mandatory fees to pay for them. They also have the power to enforce architectural standards and rules, much as a government would. These rules…