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Subject: Does HOA have the right to cut off water to collect past dues?
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RobertL11
(North Carolina)

Posts:5


05/13/2008 7:41 PM  
In our community we have over $28,000 worth of past dues which is killing our budget. I have mentioned about cutting off the water to those units until the dues are brought up to date. I also saw on another forum this:

"NC: Charlotte Condo Leaders Cut Off Water To Non-Paying Members. A condominium association empowered by a new state law squeezed two homeowners who haven't paid more than $2,000 in dues."

when I went to the link it took me to WSOCTV.com but it says the article is no longer available and they have not responded to me yet.
What are the NC laws pertaining to this and how can I get more info? We have a annual meeting this Thursday and I have been all over the web trying to get information to support our ability to do what is necessary to collect past dues. Leins have not helped and we are looking at any other options. Any thoughts or suggestions would be welcome. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
RobertL11
BruceF1
(Connecticut)

Posts:2466


05/13/2008 8:15 PM  
Does the association supply the water?

I'm not familiar with NC law, so I can only give you my opinion (which is all I can give anyway, I guess).

Unless the association supplies the water, and bills for the water, I fail to see how you have any control over it. Can the elctric company shut off your water because you don't pay your electric bill?

Water, like electricity and telephone service, is normally supplied by a public utility and, as far as I know, in most states, public utilities are regulated (even municipal utilities). Generally, there are laws governing the conditions and procedures that must be followed to shut off service. There are sometimes other factors that must be taken into consideration: whether the family has children, whether someone is elderly, sick, or disabled, etc. I also think that a shutoff notice has to be given and that the owner has to be given a specific date when the service will be shut off. I have also heard that a utility representative sometimes makes a personal final effort to collect before actually turning off the service.

You might want to check your state laws on public utilities. Maybe you will find what you're looking for there instead of under condo laws.
RobertL11
(North Carolina)

Posts:5


05/13/2008 9:01 PM  
Yes,the Association does pay for the water. Thank you for your other suggestions. I will be call the water company. I was just over on the state site reading the North Carolina General Statutes,Chapter 47C: North Carolina Condominium Act.Trying to find an answer but I quess I will be on the phone tomorrow.
Thank you for your time and effort. It is very much appreciated.

All the best to you & your.
Sincerely,
RobertL11
PaulM
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:1347


05/14/2008 9:14 AM  
RobertL11: You are wise in your decision to contact the local water company since it is the association (included in members' dues payments?)who does pay for the water to units. The water company, as the supplier, must have official documents (contract or such) dictating how the initial water supply to your association was set up with the builder.

It is always well to have the municipal authorities give you professional advice in the situations which do include them indirectly.
BrianB
(California)

Posts:2803


05/14/2008 10:56 AM  
if you can't shut off the water, the lines can always be "Down for testing" or "under repair" at some of the most inconvenient times, often without notice. And waiting for parts can take forever, sometimes. then you just get a part in, and a day later, another part breaks.
RobertL11
(North Carolina)

Posts:5


05/14/2008 12:48 PM  
Thank you all for your responses. After about 3 hours of calling and internet play I found the article and spoke to Richard Vinroot,attorney in this case and he will be getting me the law and info sometime next week. Here is the article:
NORTH CAROLINA NEWS

Charlotte condo leaders cut off water to non-paying members
02/10/2006

Associated Press

A condominium association empowered by a new state law squeezed two homeowners who haven't paid more than $2,000 in dues by turning off the water to their units.

In what may be the first such effort in North Carolina, The Princeton at Southampton owners' association cut off the water supply to both condos to force payment of homeowners' dues after dozens of notices and a certified warning letter, association president Michael Kan said.

"We thought this was better than kicking them out of their houses onto the street," Kan said. "It's also quicker and saves us money."

The tactic became legal last month when legislation governing the state's 13,000 homeowner associations went into effect, said attorney Richard Vinroot, who advises the association. The statute allows associations "to suspend privileges or services" for a homeowner who falls more than a month behind in paying dues.

North Carolina attorneys who specialize in homeowner association law said they know of no other places in the state where services have been cut off. One said she would advise against the practice.

"If landlords can't cut off people's water if they don't pay their rent, I don't think associations should either," said Tina Pace, a Raleigh attorney who specializes in homeowner association law. "If someone isn't paying rent, you evict them. If they're not paying dues, you foreclose on them."

But filing for foreclosure can be time-consuming and expensive, Kan said. A foreclosure would cost the association at least $1,000. It cost the group about $300 to cut off water, which will be charged to the delinquent homeowner.

The delinquent Princeton at Southampton homeowners each owe more than a year's worth of the community's $112-a.m.onth dues. Three other delinquent homeowners paid up, Kan said, after learning their water could be cut off.

One of the homeowners whose water was turned off, Greg Gulledge, said he hasn't paid his dues for more than a year because the association hasn't replaced a missing shutter on his condo. The other homeowner could not be reached Thursday.

Kan said the association first heard about the shutter this week and a work order has been placed.

Having no water won't get Gulledge to pay, he said.

"Why should I pay for services I'm not receiving?" he said. "I won't let them take my house, but I'll live without water for a while. If I have to call a water company to bring me 50 bottles a day, I'll do it."

___

Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com

***********************************************************
Thanks again to this forum for their help.

I'll let you know what happens.

Sincerely,
RobertL11
MaryA1


Posts:0


05/14/2008 12:57 PM  
People with the attitude of this Guttledge guy deserve a foreclosure notice! Sorry, but that's the way I feel.
SusanW1
(Michigan)

Posts:5202


05/14/2008 2:08 PM  
We have 250 homes in our subdivision. We supply water to every home, thru our artisan well system that is nearly 86 years old.

We currently have 6 homes in the sub in foreclosure and are bank-owned. All water is shut off and we have placed leins on the properties, so the title search will show this outstanding account. We must upgrade the leins at least yearly.

Now . . . we have several others that owe Membership/Water dues. We are trying to sort out just what to do. After several letters, ect. and even spray painting the water lead "cap" (that the HOA owns) on each property, some are still outstanding.
GloriaM
(North Carolina)

Posts:829


05/14/2008 3:12 PM  
Robert:

Before turning off any one water service you have to bring them through the due process of holding a hearing before the Board of Director's. After the hearing send a "Decision of Hearing" to them detailing the board's decision. $100.00 per day fines are allowed by the NCPCA. Then in this letter you also describe the turn off of water service.

If the Condo pays for water through the dues, then you can turn the water off after the due process.

How quick does the water turn service off for non-payment? I know here in Mooresville, NC within the 30-days your water is off for non-payment. Good Luck.
cpoulin
(Colorado)

Posts:35


05/14/2008 4:47 PM  
BrianB:

To fake(lie)issues with the water system is truley a unique idea, if you are lower than a snakes belly. This isn't an ingenuis solution, but ridicules if you have any business ethics and morals.
Granted the people who owe money should pay and that is why you have a lawyer. If the water is a cost incured by all members of the association and is included as part of their monthly assesment - then in reality they are in default and a lien should be put on thier property. This tactic is legal, in the declaration of the association, and should be enforced or other members of the association will think they can do it too. Besides, if the member wants to get the health board involved there could be ramifications to the people responsible for turning off the water. Give this some consideration - with or without a State Law. Remember, the declaration has presidence over state laws and if the waterless member gets a lawyer, someone could have egg on their face and a law suite to go with it.
cpoulin
(Colorado)

Posts:35


05/14/2008 5:22 PM  
RobertL11:
As the article showed, one home owner said he'd go without water, but wouldn't let them take his home. That home owner would be affected if the HOA foreclosed a lien - and as for lawyers cost to do the lien - if you look at your declaration you may find that the offending owner will have to pay the lawyer fees, in addition to the late assesments and late fees. A no brainer. Get a lawyer involved and use the authority of the Association. Why play with water, when you have the power right in the declaration. Besides, the owner may not realize that by purchasing a home in your community - they legally agreed to abide by the Declaration(Coventants). The courts would view their actions as a breach of contract and thus be at fault. But it is up to the board.
BrianB
(California)

Posts:2803


05/14/2008 6:11 PM  
Posted By cpoulin on 05/14/2008 4:47 PM
BrianB:

To fake(lie)issues with the water system is truley a unique idea, if you are lower than a snakes belly. This isn't an ingenuis solution, but ridicules if you have any business ethics and morals.
Granted the people who owe money should pay and that is why you have a lawyer. If the water is a cost incured by all members of the association and is included as part of their monthly assesment - then in reality they are in default and a lien should be put on thier property. This tactic is legal, in the declaration of the association, and should be enforced or other members of the association will think they can do it too. Besides, if the member wants to get the health board involved there could be ramifications to the people responsible for turning off the water. Give this some consideration - with or without a State Law. Remember, the declaration has presidence over state laws and if the waterless member gets a lawyer, someone could have egg on their face and a law suite to go with it.




*smile* first, you have to prove that the water system problems are indeed fake/lies. Good luck doing that if i am on the other side of the fence. Second, we can debate ethics all day: do you believe that not upholding your fiduciary responsibility and your duty to the HOA is a higher ethical choice than taking action against those who steal from your own members? I personally don't think much about thieves, and don't worry much about how my ethical stand is with them. I worry more about keeping my promises to the owners who depend on me to protect their interests. People who take from others without paying are thieves. People who don't do what they promised to do are liars. I prefer to save my ethics for the people who DO pay their bills, the folks who don't steal from others, the ones who follow the rules. The thieves and liars have already shown their colors, and get little sympathy from me.

If water is part of the assessment, a lien is possible, you are correct. However, if it is paid by each owner as used, then you may have some problems with an automatic lien. Such a utility arrangement isn't a "fine" but some states and courts may consider it a fee, and require a different path before liens are placed. CHeck your local laws as you proceed, but a lien is a great idea.

Lastly, can you explain what you mean by the declaration having presidence (sic) over state law? State laws have precedent over all CC&R's, i believe. I may be wrong, if so, please educate me on it. I always learn things here.
BruceF1
(Connecticut)

Posts:2466


05/14/2008 7:36 PM  
cpoulin,

We've been through what takes precedence over what many times over is this foum. One of the most recent times is in the thread on state laws vs bylaws in a thread on the next page. Some very thorough discussion there.

Sorry to disappoint you, but state law trumps CCRs. Otherwise, you could amend your CCRS to say anything you wanted to with total disregard for what the law says. In other words, what you are saying is that we can write our own laws!

Here's what I posted in that previous thread:

If I were to choose a "one size fits all" statement, I would say that state law (assuming you have one) supercedes association documents, and here's my reasoning:

1. If your association documents are silent on an issue and your state law covers that issue, the state law governs because your documents say nothing.

2. If the law is silent on an issue and your documents do cover an issue, then the documents govern; same reasoning as above.

3. If your state law covers an issue AND your documents also cover the issue, then:

A. If your state law ALLOWS you to replace a given requirement with another, similar, requirement (by using something like, "unless otherwise provided in the bylaws, etc", then you may substitute the provision in your documents in place of the provision in the law;

B. If your state law ALLOWS you to replace a minimum requirement with a greater requirement by stating something like, "must be equal to or greater than...." (or something similar), then any requirement in your documents that is greater than the requirement stated in the law by definition also meets the minimum requirement stated by the law; and

C. If your state law ALLOWS you to replace a maximum permitted clause with a clause that is less than or equal to the maximum, then any requirement in your documents that is less than the maximum permitted by state law, by definition, also fits within the maximum requirement stated in the law.

So, I guess, since it is THE LAW that PERMITS you to substitute a provision in place of one in the law, or with something that is more or less stringent than what is stated in the law, one could argue that in reality, the law governs.
RobertL11
(North Carolina)

Posts:5


05/15/2008 12:44 AM  
There is one cut off for four units.There is 54 units all total. So my thoughts were a plumber can split the line four ways to individually cut off whichever one is past due. I have to find a plumber and see what he can do. I am truly hoping it is possible, so we can collect. Then do some much needed maintenance around here.
Thank you so much for each & every comment. I have learned so much in just 2 days here and will continue to learn. I will update after the Annual meeting tonight(Thursday).

RobertL11
RobertL11
(North Carolina)

Posts:5


05/16/2008 7:12 AM  
We had a little rain last night, so the meeting was rescheduled for next Thursday. So I'll let you know after the meeting what is decided.
Thank you for all of your responses!!

Sincerely,
RobertL11
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Forums > Homeowner Association > HOA Discussions > Does HOA have the right to cut off water to collect past dues?



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