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Subject: imposing fines
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NazS
(Nevada)

Posts:7


07/31/2019 11:27 AM  
We have a condo in Vegas that has been by our property manager since 2016. About a month ago we received a certified mail (requiring a signature) which indicated a $1300 fee to the HOA. It did not even specify what are the fees for. So we called and they told us we have been fined for some violations. We never received any letters from them about those violations. They say they sent the notices to our property manager (who by the way manages another 40 units in that complex)but my manager denies receiving any letters. We just had a hearing with the board members when we asked them if they have proof of sending notices, they said they mailed them regular mail and so no proof. They also denied our request for fine waiver. Will we have a chance if we take the HOA to small claim court in Vegas since they have to no proof of sending notices? Thanks!
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:2621


07/31/2019 12:14 PM  
If you're renting out the condo, it sounds like your tenant may have done something contrary to the rules, so the first thing to do is to have a serious chat with them to see what's going on (it may be they got a copy of the notice and blew it off or your property manager said he/she'd address it and didn't). You'll need to talk to both of them and demand answers. If your tenant did something wrong, you, as the owner are ultimately responsible, so you may have to clean that up and then go after him or her.

Then get a copy of the letters you (or your property manager) were supposedly sent. What was the address written on the letters? Since you don't live at the condo, does the association have you HOME address?
Has the address of the property manager changed and if so, when, and did he/she notify the association? Whether you have a property manager or not, it's your responsibility as a homeowner and HOA member to ensure the association has current and accurate information.

All of this may play a role as to whether you'd win in a lawsuit, so before you go there, I suggest you read your documents to see if you have any appeal rights and request a hearing. You can address whatever it was that prompted the fines and clean up the contact information. It may be the board will drop the fine, but if it was assessed to pay damages your tenant caused, you may have to eat that and learn an expensive lesson.
NazS
(Nevada)

Posts:7


07/31/2019 12:33 PM  
I know exactly what the violations are for varying from using a gas BBQ in the back yard as opposed to the permitted electrical to not giving the office the lease, as well as storing some material on the front yard. We addressed all those issues as soon as we found out and they were corrected immediately.
Yes, they do have our address on file. They sent the fine to my home address which means they do have my address on file.
Property manager has manged that complex for 13 years and has 40 units that he manages there. He has not changed address and is on the property almost every day again since he is managing 40 units.
We did go to the board and explained to them that we addressed all issue immediately and are taking measures to make sure this does not happen again. We also told them we did not receive any mail and property manager who was also there said he did not receive any mail either. They mentioned they sent the notices via regular mail and so no proof. If you are fining someone $1300 shouldn't you at least have some proof that the notices were sent out????
NazS
(Nevada)

Posts:7


07/31/2019 12:37 PM  
This is how we addressed the issue and told the board during the hearing as well. Immediately after finding out there was an issue:
1) Addressed all violation issues and made sure they were corrected
2) We asked the HOA manager to change the corresponding address from the property manger to our address
3) We signed up to their newly built portal which I sign on everyday to make sure things are okay
4) requested a meeting with board to ask for a waiver
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:8396


07/31/2019 4:02 PM  
Why would you sue them? You have no damages. Haven't paid them a dime.

If it were me, I'd examine my contract with YOUR management company. I feel it should have included that if your property is subjected to fines/violations, they need to inform you immediately. If not, then they must pay for the fines or fix violation. They are responsible. So my doubts are on them properly managing your property.

My bet is that your violation letters are all in the mailbox at the home in Vegas.

Former HOA President
SamE2
(New Jersey)

Posts:133


07/31/2019 6:24 PM  
Why did the Board hear your appeal? It seems silly to let the people that fine you hear the appeal. I would request an appeal to a neutral party.
RichardP13
(California)

Posts:3764


07/31/2019 9:33 PM  
Posted By SamE2 on 07/31/2019 6:24 PM
Why did the Board hear your appeal? It seems silly to let the people that fine you hear the appeal. I would request an appeal to a neutral party.



Seriously, this is a HOA.

Been there, Done that
RichardP13
(California)

Posts:3764


07/31/2019 9:34 PM  
Rather, fairness and HOA's don't go together.

Been there, Done that
PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:184


08/01/2019 5:43 AM  
Posted By NazS on 07/31/2019 11:27 AM
We have a condo in Vegas that has been by our property manager since 2016. About a month ago we received a certified mail (requiring a signature) which indicated a $1300 fee to the HOA. It did not even specify what are the fees for. So we called and they told us we have been fined for some violations. We never received any letters from them about those violations. They say they sent the notices to our property manager (who by the way manages another 40 units in that complex)but my manager denies receiving any letters. We just had a hearing with the board members when we asked them if they have proof of sending notices, they said they mailed them regular mail and so no proof. They also denied our request for fine waiver. Will we have a chance if we take the HOA to small claim court in Vegas since they have to no proof of sending notices? Thanks!




I would check your bylaws and other governing documents.

They might require that you get notice and a hearing before fines are imposed.

Even if you got (or didn't get) notice, did you get a hearing before the fines were imposed?

If not, then your governing documents might have been violated.

If you take the HOA to small claims court, I'm not sure of what your damages would be unless you pay the $1300 and then sue for $1300, stating that the $1300 fee is your damage due to the HOA's breach of contract.
MarkM19
(Texas)

Posts:371


08/01/2019 6:12 AM  
I know exactly what the violations are for varying from using a gas BBQ in the back yard as opposed to the permitted electrical to not giving the office the lease, as well as storing some material on the front yard. We addressed all those issues as soon as we found out and they were corrected immediately.
Yes, they do have our address on file. They sent the fine to my home address which means they do have my address on file.
Property manager has manged that complex for 13 years and has 40 units that he manages there. He has not changed address and is on the property almost every day again since he is managing 40 units.
We did go to the board and explained to them that we addressed all issue immediately and are taking measures to make sure this does not happen again. We also told them we did not receive any mail and property manager who was also there said he did not receive any mail either. They mentioned they sent the notices via regular mail and so no proof. If you are fining someone $1300 shouldn't you at least have some proof that the notices were sent out????

Above is your post where you say you know exactly what the fines are for. It also says as soon as you found out about them you corrected the issues. Sounds to me like you got the letters you were claiming you did not get. You do not meet the board normally unless you are responding to a notice of violation. Your story has some serious holes in it and if I was in your shoes I would stop fighting this losing battle.
NazS
(Nevada)

Posts:7


08/01/2019 10:20 AM  
Yes, we found out after we received the fine letter. So, we called and inquire and they told us what the fines were for. These violations go back to 2018 and we had no idea about them until a month ago when we received a letter that we were fined $1300. We are paying the $1300 fine but I am exploring my options as I think they should have informed us via a mail to my home when we did not appear for their first hearing. We met the board two days ago to explain to them that we did not receive any violation notices. They told us the notices were sent to our property manager. The property manager says he never received any notices either...I am not sure who lies here but something is for sure I am not the one who is lying contrary to what you think. I just came to this forum to ask for advice and thanks for your very helpful advice!!!
NazS
(Nevada)

Posts:7


08/01/2019 10:27 AM  
Sure we have...I paid their 1300$ fines and I just feel they should have sent the owners (me) at least a notice in addition to the home in Vegas (you are right) which of course was probably thrown away by the tenant.
FYI, these violation go back to 2018 and we had no clue till a month ago when we received the fine letter.
NazS
(Nevada)

Posts:7


08/01/2019 10:38 AM  
I have. I paid them the $1300 fine. Yes, they probably were in the Vegas property but the tenant most probably threw them away. These violations go back to 2018 and I did not know about them until a month ago when I received a letter that I have been fined for $1300. My manager he never got anything but HOA says they sent him notices via regular mail. Do not know who to believe but I wished HOA sent a notice to my home address as well...
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:2621


08/01/2019 11:03 AM  
You may need to chalk this up as an expensive lesson. to keep this from happening again:

1 - get rid of this property manager - you may never know if the letters were sent or not (and people do lie), but since he/she was property manager, it's his/her job to keep up with what's going on with the tenant. Maybe this could have been avoided with a periodic visit and attending a board meeting or two that would tip him/her off to a problem. See if that can become part of your contract with the next one.elissa's suggestion about making the property manager liable for the fines (at least half of them) if he/she doesn't notify you immediately might also be worth pursuing.

2 - put some language in the rental agreement making the tenant responsible for following community rules - if he/she can't or refuses to, consider that grounds for eviction. Make sure he/she gets a copy (the current ones) and have him/her sign a document acknowledging receipt of the same. Questions should be directed to you or the property manager, then one of you should contact the board or association property manager, get clarification and then pass that along

4 - Don't be one of those "out of sight, out of mind" offsite homeowners. Your situation is exactly why I give some of them the side-eye and we have plenty of them in my community. These folks don't educate tenants on community rules, don't respond to complaints even when they do get notices - they only care if the rent check clears.

Note most of this DOESN'T apply to you, although when you first heard of the problem and got it resolved, that might have been the time to ensure the association was happy so there wouldn't be further sanctions like fines. I would have also gotten that writing.

You are a neighbor to the people who live in this community, even if you don't live there. Do what you need to do to stay informed and not rely solely on the property manager. You should be reading copies of board meeting minutes, newsletters and attending the annual meeting if you can't attend regular board meetings (it's only once a year, so you can plan for it). This way, people can put a face with the property and know you care about what's going on. Maybe some of the neighbors would then let you know what's happening early so you can fix it before the board gets wind of it and this happens again.
PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:184


08/01/2019 3:23 PM  
I'd take this to small claims court. Surely you can comb through the governing documents about how fines are supposed to be imposed and can find something that the HOA did wrong. Or you can persuade a small claims court judge that since you didn't get the notices, you were effectively denied the hearing to which you were entitled.

This isn't a slam-dunk case but you MIGHT come out ahead.
JZ2
(Florida)

Posts:43


08/01/2019 4:40 PM  
Be careful before taking the matter to small claims court. You might lose and get tagged with the Association's legal fees for your trouble if the laws in AZ provide for prevailing party attorney's fee in such matters.

FWIW, my advice would be to spend a few bucks to get a legal opinion from an experienced community association lawyer in your area before doing anything.

PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:184


08/01/2019 5:25 PM  
JZ2's advice is the careful approach. That is good advice.

I'd still comb through the governing documents and you can certainly find SOMETHING that the HOA did wrong and that is a violation.

Only pursue legal claims that you have very carefully vetted and analyzed. If it means suing on only a very narrow claim, so be it.
NazS
(Nevada)

Posts:7


08/02/2019 12:27 PM  
Yes, you are right I thought about the same thing too. The condo is in Vegas and I live in Cali. I will try to find an attorney to see what I can do.
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