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Subject: Your advice please
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08/21/2011 4:53 PM  
I am the Secretary/Treasurer and board member of a 6 duplex (12 owners) condo association. The President and I are the only members who have experience with living with a HOA. One of our owners, a first-time condo owner, added a flower bed to the common area without asking the Architectural committee first. It was done in ignorance and matches the other planting beds in that area with cement curbing around the perimeter. After being told that this was not allowed, the owner, with bad information from one of the new board members, went door to door and got signatures from the other owners giving him permission to leave the flower bed in place.

The President circulated a letter to the BOD for signatures, with the signed letter to be forwarded to the owner in violation. She cannot get all of the BOD to sign which leaves us in a real mess. This has caused a great deal of confusion and stress. This is our first violation of the CCR's and with the membership so divided, I need some input from some more experienced board members.

Will you offer some suggestions, please?

Thank you.



08/21/2011 5:19 PM  
Gosh, I love to have your problems. Don't you like flowers?


08/21/2011 6:22 PM  

Was the individual told to remove the flower bed or were they told that they had to apply for permission?

Based on your posting, the main issue appears to be lack of knowledge. To correct this long term issue, your Association may want to start placing articles within your newsletter on how a condominium works and how following procedure protects the individual and the Association.

For this specific issue, the underlying question is - had a request been submitted, would it have been approved?

If it would have, why not just have the individual submit a request. Granted it's after the fact (which is never the best way), but your posting indicated that the flower bed conforms to the design of the development and appears to have community support.



08/21/2011 10:52 PM  
What is the definition of your common area? Our HOA the owner's owned the house and the lot it sat on. All surrounding areas were considered "Common" and owned by ALL the owners. It was what the HOA controls. However, there is exclusive use areas within the surrounding area around the home. You may want to find out how exclusive use works/defined in the documentation.

It is still majority rules. I would say that a vote of the membership may be in order. I'd offer this up to the general membership who wants to weigh in on the issue to take up a vote. It's great to have an ACC committee and board...but sometimes let the other members vote for the board to make their final decision.

I once had an owner plant plastic flowers in their flower garden. Personally, I thought it was a "Tribute" to a deceased person and left it alone. There's nothing in our rules that says you can't plant plastic flowers... However, it outraged many of the owners in the HOA. It wasn't something that an owner would ask permission from the ACC/Board to do. I reckon plastic flower planting is an atrocity to God. Notification was given to the owner to remove the flowers and they complied with some anger. If it hadn't been for the majority of the membership that was against the plastic flowers, I would have left well enough alone. I learned sometimes you have to listen to what the neighbors want and not just the select board/ACC. This may be the best approach here as well.

Former HOA President


08/21/2011 10:53 PM  

The owner was told that he was in violation and that he cannot alter the common area without permission from the Board. He didn't realize that he would be adding to the cost of maintaining the grounds. We were trying to find a win-win solution. Since we are a new association, we were worried that if we let him do this, it would open the door for other violations.

I agree with your suggestion of education. I have spoken with the President and others and they agree that we need to help educate our owners to avoid such issues in the future.

At this time, the owner has agreed to remove the bed and replace the sod that was removed.

Thank you for your input. Sometimes being too close to the problem doesn't offer solutions.



08/22/2011 7:50 AM  
Offer this person the position of head of the Annuals Committee for this commons area.

Tell him/her that they are responsible for the design approval, planting, weeding, watering and general maintenance of that area.

It sounds like you don't object to what it looks like, but you object to HOW he did it (without permission or following procedure)

Work WITH this person, please, and come up with a win-win solution.



08/22/2011 11:04 AM  
We have 3 definitions of space. Common areas, limited-common areas and private use areas. All of these areas are maintained by the Association. The common areas are all the lawns and landscaping plus city sidewalks. The limited-common areas are the driveways and sidewalks attached to the unit they serve. The private use areas are the 10 feet directly behind and adjacent to the units and the owners are allowed to use this space as they wish. The perimeters, use and restrictions of each of these areas are clearly outlined in our CCR's.

Thank you all for your suggestions. Clearly, we need to educate our owners. Most of them have not read the CCR's and have no clue how this all works. The issue here is not necessarily what was done, but in the way it was done. Previously, we had a couple of meetings with all the owners trying to explain what CCR's are and how they work. Obviously, the message did not get through.

We also have to educate our BOD. A couple of them compounded this issue by giving this owner incorrect information. Most of the BOD have no experience with CCR's and volunteered for this first year without really knowing what their responsibilities were. Now that we've come up against our first violation, a couple of them now want to resign.

Thank you again for your help. I will suggest to the President that we talk to this owner and see if we can find a solution that will make us all feel good.

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