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Subject: Dealing With Absentee Owner Neglect
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Author Messages
RichA3
(Arizona)

Posts:46


03/13/2020 8:00 AM  
2 of our 17 COA units have been vacant for some time. These units were built in '72, are one story w flat roofs. Our Board of Management is very concerned about the condition of these units especially potential roof leakage. I do believe our association has a responsibility to ensure these units are maintained properly. Our rules allow the Board to access these units if the absentee owner gives their approval. These absentee owners are difficult to reach however. The Board would like to at least have the roofs on these two units inspected by a qualified roofer. Can we proceed w those inspections if we cannot reach these absentee owners?
AugustinD


Posts:2906


03/13/2020 8:25 AM  
Does your Declaration say the roofs are the HOA's responsibility to maintain?
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7036


03/13/2020 8:32 AM  
If the roof are the COA's obligation to maintain, repairs & replace, I assume thy can be accessed from the interior,
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:3048


03/13/2020 8:52 AM  
Reason 1,072 why I’m not a fan of some (not all) absentee owners (letting the place go to hell happens way too often).

You said the owners are difficult to reach – is that because the addresses are sketchy or phone numbers keep changing (or both?) If phone calls haven’t worked, try sending a certified letter with a return receipt requested, so you’ll know for certain if someone’s there.

You might also check the tax rolls to see what it lists as the owner. Be careful if they’re LLCs because figuring out who to contact can be a big problem. LLCs are often set up to run businesses but protect the personal assets of the owners. I came across too many of them when I was board treasurer, and usually, the only asset the business had was – the house they let go to shit, and ultimately, they’d let the thing go into foreclosure for the next owner to deal with.

Speaking of which – money issues may be exactly why you haven’t heard from the owners, so it may be helpful to check if there are tax liens or other types of liens against the house, including foreclosure or bankruptcy. When people are in that kind of trouble, there may not be anything left for the HOA to go after.

But before you begin, you do need to check your documents to see who’s responsible for roofing. In fact, ALL homeowners should already know who’s responsible for what and never say “I do believe the association is responsible…” If the association IS responsible, you may need to get your attorney involved to see what your options are. If not, maybe the city can get involved - try whoever enforces the building code.
RichA3
(Arizona)

Posts:46


03/13/2020 10:20 AM  
Thank you all for the prompt FB!
In our COA the owner is responsible for maintaining their roof.
How do we get them to own up or to at least let us assess the situation?
The certified letter first?!
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9299


03/13/2020 10:22 AM  
Rich

If the owners are gone, why not just have the roofing company do an external inspection. If problems thae mail a certified letter to the owner of record requesting they make roof repairs.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7036


03/13/2020 11:21 AM  
Sorry, I, too, meant do an inspection from the exterior.

As a condo, are roofs connected to one another?
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:3048


03/13/2020 2:07 PM  
If you say "certified letter first," it sounds like no one's contacted the owners, so if you have a phone number or email, try those to begin with - and start keeping track of when you made your contacts, how you made them, who you spoke to, etc. If necessary, you can take photos of why you see from the outside and send them copies. The photos should be time and date stamped (keep a copy of that as well) - and STAY OUT OF THE HOUSE UNTIL YOU GET AUTHORIZATION.

All of that said, if the roof is the owner's responsibility anyway, I'd call the city or county building department and see if they can take a look. Unless the damage is causing or has caused some sort of safety/health hazard, there may not be much anyone can do. in addition to winged creatures possibly flying in and out of the roof (along with vermin like raccoons taking up residence), it may be helpful to watch for signs of break-ins because you don't want squatters, meth-heads or those folk running in and out either. If that happens, police may need to be notified.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9299


03/13/2020 3:36 PM  
Rich

Please describe your associations configuration. From what you have said, individual roofs but are the units separated (as in not attached) or whatever?
RichA3
(Arizona)

Posts:46


03/13/2020 4:30 PM  
Our 17 one-story condo units w flat roofs are separated into 3 groups...each group unit shares a common wall w its neighbor...the roofs are separated accordingly. Hope this helps.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:9127


03/13/2020 5:10 PM  
So why does the HOA care if it's the owner's responsibility to maintain? Are they eyesores? If so, the HOA may have the option of fixing the roofs and sending the owner the bill. If they refuse to pay it, then the HOA can lien for the amount owed. This is of course as long as proper notice and given owner the option to do it themselves. Send them a certified letter stating they either fix the roof themselves or the HOA does it at whatever amount they choose. If they don't pay, the HOA will then place a lien on their property.

Note: this should be in your CC&R's to be able to do. So I'd also quote the section when drafting the letter. Be prepared to pay the bill for the roofs.

Former HOA President
MarkW18
(Florida)

Posts:706


03/13/2020 5:25 PM  
How do you repair a roof, if you don't know where it is leaking on the inside. I have dealt with this issue many times over the years.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16700


03/14/2020 9:59 AM  
Are these town homes?

If the roof is the responsibility of the owner, then it's the owner who needs to inspect.
The Association can not impose one set of standards on one owner without imposing the same set on all.
Hence, why are you not concerned about the condition of the roofs of the other owners?

TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16700


03/14/2020 10:02 AM  
I doubt you would find a contractor willing to enter the property without permission of the owner or resident.
Doing so can, and should, lead to the criminal charge of trespassing.

Our attorney, in a similar situation - inspection of the property, advised us not to enter the property without a court order because of the potential criminal charges.

JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9299


03/14/2020 2:40 PM  
Posted By RichA3 on 03/13/2020 4:30 PM
Our 17 one-story condo units w flat roofs are separated into 3 groups...each group unit shares a common wall w its neighbor...the roofs are separated accordingly. Hope this helps.




Are you saying 17 one story buildings with 3 adjoining units per building with the middle units having two common walls and the end unit having one common wall and all flat roofed? If so, I assume this make for 51 owners.

In this part of the country we would call them triplex if 3 units, duplexe if two units and quadplex if 4 units. If more than one story, we would call them townhouses.

My association has 40 duplexes and 32 standalone homes making for 112 homes/owners.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9299


03/14/2020 2:53 PM  
Rich

My advice would be to send the owner of record a Registered Letter informing them that the HOA will be conducting a roof evaluation of all units on so and so dates. You will be notified if your roof is not in good working condition and it must be repaired.

JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9299


03/14/2020 2:57 PM  
Posted By JohnC46 on 03/14/2020 2:53 PM
Rich

My advice would be to send the owner of record a Registered Letter informing them that the HOA will be conducting a roof evaluation of all units on so and so dates. You will be notified if your roof is not in good working condition and it must be repaired.





ADD ON BY OP

Are those units current with their dues? If not, I expect they might be involved in bankruptcy and/or they have died and the unit is tied up in their estate.
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