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Subject: HOA - board member registration
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JohnM93
(Ohio)

Posts:13


07/14/2020 6:18 PM  
Do HOA Board members have to register with any kind of state entity? I can find the CCRs online, but no document that shows the board members. The developer turned the subdivision over around Jan 1, and the new board had the first meeting in February of 2020, but how do i find out who are the legitimate board members?

My issue, not in the title, is the following:

We live in a nice neighborhood where we built a custom home about 14 years ago. 1.5 to 5 acre lots, wooded with houses from 2500 - 15000 SF. We bought a new lot in another neighborhood about an hour away by the same developer and the SAME CCRs, thinking we would build our dream house - 1 floor living and fully wooded lot with a walk out basement.

The HOA president is insisting our design has too much brick, door color is wrong, parking pad is too big, etc - none of these things are specified in the CCRs as violations, and many other homes with these same attributes, but we think our house is the first one the new board (this president) has reviewed.

Is there a legal requirement that board members register their names with the state? How does one know who they are, is it word of mouth?
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16850


07/14/2020 6:33 PM  
If your Association is incorporated, there is typically a required annual report to the State's corporation commission. Failure to provide an annual report can result in the corporation (not the HOA) being dissolved by the State.

I see you are in Ohio.

Here is a link to the Ohio Corporation Commission search page:

https://ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/site/business/resources/business-name-search
AugustinD


Posts:3683


07/14/2020 6:45 PM  
Posted By JohnM93 on 07/14/2020 6:18 PM
How does one know who [the directors] are, is it word of mouth?
Your HOA is also a nonprofit corporation. Under Ohio's nonprofit corporation act, you have a legal right to review all records of the association. Chances are your HOA's Bylaws also give members this right. The records include the Board Meeting Minutes and a list of the members. The Minutes normally list the directors. Send a letter to the HOA manager stating the following:

Dear Manager ____,

Pursuant to ORC 1702.15 and Bylaws Section _____, please provide me a date and time when I may review the Minutes from the two most recent Board meetings and the list of members.

Thank you,

[name]
[address]
[email addie]
[phone]


With luck the list of members will include addresses.

As interested, see the Ohio statute at http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/1702.15v1
JohnM93
(Ohio)

Posts:13


07/14/2020 7:43 PM  
Thanks all. I can find the record on Ohio site but nothing listing current board members. I guess I am also trying to determine legitimacy. The HoA had its first annual meeting this February (I was there) but how would one know if board members changed? Is this only recorded in meeting minutes or is there some state doc filed every year when new board members are elected?
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16850


07/14/2020 10:16 PM  
Unfortunately, Ohio doesn't provide the document showing the Directors (this does vary by State).

CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1120


07/15/2020 5:17 AM  
Posted By JohnM93 on 07/14/2020 6:18 PM
...

The HOA president is insisting our design has too much brick, door color is wrong, parking pad is too big, etc - none of these things are specified in the CCRs as violations, and many other homes with these same attributes, but we think our house is the first one the new board (this president) has reviewed.
...



How old is this new community? I assume that because you mentioned a board president, you are no longer under developer control - but you mentioned a new board, and it sounds like the developer may have just turned over control to the homeowners.

These sorts of things typically are not in the CC&Rs, but the builder/seller should have provided written materials regarding community architectural standards. For a new build, it's not unusual for a buyer to be given a limited menu of choices from which to make their exterior selections. The point of this is to maintain consistency within the community and support property values for all of the homes in it.

Come to think of it, if your house isn't built yet, why is your builder not handling this? I work for a new home builder in Ohio, and this is not standard procedure for us. Buyers have no contact with the board until they have closed on their homes. They aren't members of the HOA until then, they are customers of the builder - you don't want to blur the lines of authority and responsibility. Your situation makes no sense to me.

So I recommend asking for written guidelines. I assume you received something in writing listing the items that weren't approved and where you can re-submit your selections. You don't want to be going back and forth with this stuff, that wastes everyone's time.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:9446


07/15/2020 5:24 AM  
We were not all that official. You were voted in at the annual meeting. The board then picked the officers. Most of the time people spoke up for what position they wanted. It basically whomever raised their hand due to low turn out. After that, we would put it in the meeting notes and stamp it with the corporate seal.

New officers would go to the bank and we change out the signature card there. So may ask the bank how one proves they are a board member. They basically are the only entity we dealt with that cared.

Former HOA President
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1120


07/15/2020 5:25 AM  
Forgot to add this, and to be clear: if a person has not closed on their home yet, they aren't members of the HOA. A smart board will refuse to talk to buyers, especially in a one-on-one conversation - because if the prospective buyer backs out of the sale because of something a board member allegedly said, then the builder can go after the board for interference in his business.

Rookie mistakes all around.
JohnT38
(South Carolina)

Posts:352


07/15/2020 5:30 AM  
I'm not sure about this but shouldn't the builder know how to find out who's on the board? I would think that if he is going to build there that he would know the procedure for getting plans approved.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1120


07/15/2020 6:03 AM  
Posted By JohnT38 on 07/15/2020 5:30 AM
I'm not sure about this but shouldn't the builder know how to find out who's on the board? I would think that if he is going to build there that he would know the procedure for getting plans approved.




He may not. The builder doesn't work for the HOA, and he's not a member of the HOA unless he lives in the community (which still would not give the HOA the right to tell him what to do *in his role as a builder*).

The issue is that the buyer should not be talking to the board at all because he's not a member of the HOA yet, and smart board members won't talk to prospective buyers.

This whole business sounds odd. Board members don't choose architectural standards, the developer does. Board members also don't tell the developers and builders what to do, or disapprove of items that a prospective buyer chooses. Plans are approved or disapproved by the appropriate persons employed by the builder. The HOA and its board should have nothing to do with it at this point.

I'm very sure that the OP is not working with my employer - we never have this level of confusion. :-)
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16850


07/15/2020 7:05 AM  
However, if an individual purchased the land and is now having a house built upon the land, they are a member of the Association (which occurred when they purchased the land).
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16850


07/15/2020 7:07 AM  
Posted By JohnM93 on 07/14/2020 6:18 PM

The HOA president is insisting our design has too much brick, door color is wrong, parking pad is too big, etc - none of these things are specified in the CCRs as violations, and many other homes with these same attributes, but we think our house is the first one the new board (this president) has reviewed.




Point out that you are not asking for anything that hasn't already been approved for others (provide the addresses of the other homes). If they don't change their opinion, request a meeting with the board.
JohnM93
(Ohio)

Posts:13


07/15/2020 7:54 AM  
Yes, that is our plan. We have photos and addresses of other homes in the community that are all brick and one that is blue siding.

For others - the builder is not tied to the HOA or the lots. This is a buy your lot, bring your custom builder. This development is one of many similar created buy the same team of developer and real-estate agent. So the CCRs are verbatim in all. They tend to buy large tracks of land, usually wooded, put in roads, drainage culverts, public water (no sewer) and gas. Houses are 2500 SF and up, all brick, stone, wood/concrete siding.

When we bought the lot, we had no idea that 2 months previous the HOA was turned over to the community. Where we live now, we dealt the Architecture review of the developer as the HOA was still in developer hands. As the new lot has the same covenants, same style houses, we thought we would be fine. After we bought the lot, we got the email that the first HOA meeting was happening and it was in the hands of the home owners. We still thought that if we build what looks similar to, and has traits of many other homes, we would be fine. The point here is that we knew the rules, have followed them before, and are frustrated that one person's personal opinion (he prefers two story stone and brick houses) can stop us in our tracks.

The HOA president is commenting on design elements not in the CCRs - colors are not specified, nor is % of what kind of face covering (one or more options of stone, brick, siding)

The builder is helping, but unless the president shares the names of the other trustees (the are also the ARC), we keep going back and forth with him.

Thanks for the advise, we may be making progress this AM.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1120


07/15/2020 8:10 AM  
Posted By TimB4 on 07/15/2020 7:05 AM
However, if an individual purchased the land and is now having a house built upon the land, they are a member of the Association (which occurred when they purchased the land).




This is true. The builder I work for does it differently: buyers purchase both the home and the lot from the builder, and they don't become members of the HOA until they close on the home.

At least some of the items that the OP mentioned, such as driveway or parking pad sizes, may not be limited by architectural guidelines but instead due to setbacks, easements, etc. In other words, they're lot limitations because of building codes and not up to the board's discretion. That's the sort of thing a builder should be talking to a buyer about, though. I'm occasionally surprised when a seemingly large lot actually has a small buildable area, and may be further limited by the specific plan the buyer wants.
JohnM93
(Ohio)

Posts:13


07/15/2020 9:10 AM  
For clarification,

This is the 3rd custom home for us. I used to be frame houses and do remodeling, so i know what i am getting into. The house plans were designed and drawn taking into account all setbacks, easements, local codes, and CCRs. Our builder and designer that know the counties and subdivisions were part of the process.

In our case the CCR setbacks are more strict then the county but in the past the developer (ARC) has been very generous in allowing houses to move forward or across side boundaries due to topology, setback or future pool.

I know my current dilemma is because the HOA President prefers a style of home. He has communicated his likes and dislikes.

All the pushback we are getting is in the form of "It would look better to me this way". HOA president is a retired CEO.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2902


07/15/2020 9:33 AM  
John,

Like others herein, I'm assuming there are architectural standards? Are there CCRs that give the Board prez the right to review and approve architectural items and plans?

If there are other houses with same-same look as what you are building, and the same CCRs, Architectural Guidelines were in place, then it should simply be a matter of rolling up your plans and sticking them up his ... oh wait ... sorry.

Start the audit trail, seek assistance from an attorney early on - don't be bullied.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1120


07/15/2020 10:44 AM  
Posted By JohnM93 on 07/15/2020 9:10 AM
...

I know my current dilemma is because the HOA President prefers a style of home. He has communicated his likes and dislikes.

All the pushback we are getting is in the form of "It would look better to me this way". HOA president is a retired CEO.



OK, he's an idiot (in my humble opinion). I was kind of giving him the benefit of the doubt since inexperienced board members in a brand new community can make mistakes even though they're trying to do the right thing.

But a retired CEO should understand how corporate governance works, and board members are not in the business of enforcing their personal opinions.

He's also an idiot because what happens if John decides to walk away from this and sell the lot? Will the builder go after Mr. Ex-CEO because he's just lost him a sale?

My gob is smacked.


DouglasK1
(Florida)

Posts:1519


07/15/2020 5:18 PM  
I can't speak to Ohio, but in FL the annual corporation renewal is supposed to include officers and a registered agent, but not necessarily directors.

Escaped former treasurer and director of a self managed association.
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3925


07/15/2020 6:32 PM  
Also in Florida, anyone who ends up on the Board must attend a "board member education" course within 90 days of being elected/appointed. After taking the course ("curriculum") you're given a "certificate" that attests to you taking the course. The course provider is usually an attorney or a management company that's properly authorized to conduct the course (which essentially involves listening to an instructor talking for 4 or 5 hours. There's no test at the end. The certificate you receive must be submitted to your HOA Secretary who keeps it on file since it's good for a number of years. The places that give the course charge very little for you to attend; sometimes nothing at all.

What's different than being listed on the annual report (that's filed with the state) is that there's no requirement to file a copy of your certificate with any governmental agency. Only your HOA or condo has to retain it.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2902


07/16/2020 8:38 AM  
Geno,

I don't think the course is a requirement for directors. See below.

720.3033 Officers and directors.—
(1)(a) Within 90 days after being elected or appointed to the board, each director shall certify in writing to the secretary of the association that he or she has read the association’s declaration of covenants, articles of incorporation, bylaws, and current written rules and policies; that he or she will work to uphold such documents and policies to the best of his or her ability; and that he or she will faithfully discharge his or her fiduciary responsibility to the association’s members. Within 90 days after being elected or appointed to the board, in lieu of such written certification, the newly elected or appointed director may submit a certificate of having satisfactorily completed the educational curriculum administered by a division-approved education provider within 1 year before or 90 days after the date of election or appointment.
(b) The written certification or educational certificate is valid for the uninterrupted tenure of the director on the board. A director who does not timely file the written certification or educational certificate shall be suspended from the board until he or she complies with the requirement. The board may temporarily fill the vacancy during the period of suspension.
(c) The association shall retain each director’s written certification or educational certificate for inspection by the members for 5 years after the director’s election. However, the failure to have the written certification or educational certificate on file does not affect the validity of any board action.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9678


07/16/2020 9:09 AM  
John

One earlier poster raised an interesting point and something worth you looking into. The question is when does one become a member of the association? Upon land purchase? Upon getting a COP (Certificate of Occupancy)? If in your favor, you may not even be a member of the association yet, thus the developer/declarant could approve your structure, not the BOD.
JohnM93
(Ohio)

Posts:13


07/16/2020 9:44 AM  
Posted By JohnC46 on 07/16/2020 9:09 AM
John

One earlier poster raised an interesting point and something worth you looking into. The question is when does one become a member of the association? Upon land purchase? Upon getting a COP (Certificate of Occupancy)? If in your favor, you may not even be a member of the association yet, thus the developer/declarant could approve your structure, not the BOD.




In the case of my neighborhood, just owning the property makes you a member. The developer/declarant has turned everything over to the HOA.

GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3925


07/16/2020 10:16 AM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 07/16/2020 8:38 AM
Geno,

I don't think the course is a requirement for directors.

That's correct, there is an alternative. I've seen multiple places online where FL attorneys (I am not one of them) recommend against self-certifying for a number of reasons. The biggest reason to not do it is because an association's governing documents may not be completely legal and up-to-date with the current state of the laws and statutes. In that case, someone self-certifying that they will work to uphold the documents could be tantamount to a promise to break the law (depending on what cruft is in the documents).

But there is that option, yes.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9678


07/16/2020 11:19 AM  
John

The first thing you have to do is find out who is on the BOD. Request the info form the alleged President and from the developer.

2. Ask to present your plans to the entire BOD. Even when a ARC says no, to something, and owner can appeal their decision to the BOD.

3. If #2 fails, threaten/proceed with legal action but not until the BOD says no.

4. Sell and buy elsewhere.
JohnM93
(Ohio)

Posts:13


07/16/2020 12:13 PM  
Posted By JohnC46 on 07/16/2020 11:19 AM
John

The first thing you have to do is find out who is on the BOD. Request the info form the alleged President and from the developer.

2. Ask to present your plans to the entire BOD. Even when a ARC says no, to something, and owner can appeal their decision to the BOD.

3. If #2 fails, threaten/proceed with legal action but not until the BOD says no.

4. Sell and buy elsewhere.




Currently there is no separate ARC. There is an outside Architect that is sort of the ARC, but he is only concerned with calling out variances needed. The BOD (Trustees) are acting as the ARC - it is up to them if they appoint a separate ARC per the CCRs.

And we had considered all the next steps - asking for a BOD meeting pushed the President to accept our plans. So now if the rest of the board does we should be ok. If not, then 2,3,4.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9678


07/16/2020 1:40 PM  
Posted By JohnM93 on 07/16/2020 12:13 PM
Posted By JohnC46 on 07/16/2020 11:19 AM
John

The first thing you have to do is find out who is on the BOD. Request the info form the alleged President and from the developer.

2. Ask to present your plans to the entire BOD. Even when a ARC says no, to something, and owner can appeal their decision to the BOD.

3. If #2 fails, threaten/proceed with legal action but not until the BOD says no.

4. Sell and buy elsewhere.




Currently there is no separate ARC. There is an outside Architect that is sort of the ARC, but he is only concerned with calling out variances needed. The BOD (Trustees) are acting as the ARC - it is up to them if they appoint a separate ARC per the CCRs.

And we had considered all the next steps - asking for a BOD meeting pushed the President to accept our plans. So now if the rest of the board does we should be ok. If not, then 2,3,4.




Good for you. I expect with the President accepting, the BOD will go along.

Our attorney advised us to have the BOD also be the ARC as things would run easier.
AugustinD


Posts:3683


07/16/2020 2:00 PM  
Posted By JohnM93 on 07/15/2020 9:10 AM
HOA president is a retired CEO.
How amusing. At least he caved when the OP asked for a meeting with the Board.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9678


07/16/2020 3:45 PM  
I am a retired CEO, CFO, COO, and Janitor as I owned the business........LOL
MarkW18


Posts:1290


07/16/2020 3:47 PM  
Posted By JohnC46 on 07/16/2020 3:45 PM
I am a retired CEO, CFO, COO, and Janitor as I owned the business........LOL



I guess I am too. I was questioning the janitor part, but then I had to clean my toilets.
JohnM93
(Ohio)

Posts:13


07/17/2020 5:14 AM  
Our HOA president/ARB committee chair is still at it - we thought we had things resolved but now he claims "the other trustees" have problems with to much brick on the side of my house and the future neighbors that build on that wooded lot will not like all that brick.

This happens to be the side of a garage wall, and has 6 transoms high on the wall, with 2 bands of limestone running below them. He suggests I would like a window there. He also wants to see landscaping plans, even though that is a separate requirement for after the house is underway.

We got into some heated email exchanges last night after he told me that he graciously gave us a waiver for our 1000sf garage and 1000sf shop (all part of the house) because they were combined bigger then the 2700 SF house we are building (apparently math is not his forte).

But the other trustees are now CC'd so i know there names, and we have demanded a meeting.

He also set us off asking for detailed colors of everything - even though the CCRs don't even mention "earth tones" as some do. I think our colored rendering with a red door has really got him hopping.

It really amazes me, that one tin dictator can cause this kind of aggravation.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2902


07/17/2020 6:36 AM  
JohnM93,

I would try and stick to the process - i.e. how does the HOA regulate architectural requests - not the requests themselves. I would do this ASSUMING there is a process other than the board prez ruling.

Know this process and how it has impacted your request, THEN, get into colors, sizes, et al.

I am also ASSUMING you are meeting all the basic requirements.
JohnM93
(Ohio)

Posts:13


07/17/2020 7:01 AM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 07/17/2020 6:36 AM
JohnM93,

I would try and stick to the process - i.e. how does the HOA regulate architectural requests - not the requests themselves. I would do this ASSUMING there is a process other than the board prez ruling.

Know this process and how it has impacted your request, THEN, get into colors, sizes, et al.

I am also ASSUMING you are meeting all the basic requirements.




We are trying to follow the process. The HOA president (trustee) has taken over. The board of trustees is the ARB here. The design meets all the physical requirements, but we do need a variance for roof pitch and setback but we match a dozen other homes in roof pitch, and most all homes have bypassed the setback requirement - we are matching the next door neighbor, so not an issue.

We heard back this AM that our application was denied because it was incomplete, even though yesterday he accepted an updated application with our TBD colors changed to Gray/Black in many places as we are not sure shades yet. I think he is hung up on the front door. The application has no field for color, and he insists we tell him the color of the front door now.

I have a call into our lawyer now - one of the other Trustees lives in an all brick house of a single color, so I am not sure why the HOA president thinks he has a case, but he is the only communicating with us.
JohnM93
(Ohio)

Posts:13


07/17/2020 7:48 AM  
Unfortunately this is the kind of experience that makes people hate HOAs.
AugustinD


Posts:3683


07/17/2020 8:16 AM  
Posted By JohnM93 on 07/17/2020 5:14 AM
It really amazes me, that one tin dictator can cause this kind of aggravation.


Posted By GeorgeS21 on 07/17/2020 6:36 AM
I would try and stick to the process - i.e. how does the HOA regulate architectural requests - not the requests themselves. I would do this ASSUMING there is a process other than the board prez ruling.


Ditto what GeorgeS21 posted. This President has zero legal authority to act alone here.

You should start sending your more important communications registered mail, return receipt requested. Save every email on your server. Printouts of emails are generally not acceptable in courts of law.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1120


07/17/2020 11:59 AM  
Ditto what AugustinD said. All of this communication should be in writing.

John should have a written copy of the architectural standards for the community to assist him in completing his application.

If the board denies the application, they should be able to cite (in writing) which items allegedly violate community standards *and* to cite the specific standard(s) that is(are) being violated.

If they cannot cite specific violations, they must approve the application. None of this "it looks better this way" nonsense.

I suppose it's possible that some of the older homes were built before architectural standards were formally adopted. It shouldn't happen that way, but I guess it could once in a while. But even so, if the board would try to prevent future buyers from doing the same things as those first buyers, they would risk being guilty of selective enforcement, which courts have in the past used as a reason to find something unenforceable.

If I were in John's place, I would also be concerned about what this board will do in the future when dealing with issues that are more consequential than personal taste.
JohnM93
(Ohio)

Posts:13


07/17/2020 4:52 PM  
Most communication has been via email, so a nice paper trail does exist. I do have the architectural standards and they are very light - brick, stone, siding or combination of; roof pitch, no vinyl, etc. But they do have a clause about the ARB ensuring homes are harmonious or some vague BS. And yes, most of our replies have cited the standards and how we meet them.

There is some confusion in the documents - there is an additional document not reference in the CCRs called the "builders checklist" and that is what the ARB is using as the basis for asking about colors. It is required as part of the architectural review and has fields for color and materials. I get the fact that they would want to know if a Pink house is going in (looks great in Miami, but maybe not OH) - but they want all this upfront. We usually pick paint trim color after the brick is on the house...

But maybe some good news for a Friday: a flurry of phone calls during the day - my builder called the developer (who no longer has any control), the developer called the Architect (not our designer) who is an ARB representative, and I spoke with the developer.

The developer said he always took the word of the ARB rep Architect - if that architect approved the developer said OK, even if he didn't like the style. We then called the ARB Architect who had been watching emails from the sidelines due to personal issues, and he indicated the house is fine, colors are fine, and he is approving.

So now at the end of the day, the HOA president wants a few things clarified on the form, and we may be done (he has to have the last word) - but as these things are minor and move us ahead we will refrain pushing back. I would like to end this without a legal fight, but I am prepared to go there now that the developer, architect and builder all support us.
AugustinD


Posts:3683


07/17/2020 4:58 PM  
Posted By JohnM93 on 07/17/2020 4:52 PM
But they do have a clause about the ARB ensuring homes are harmonious or some vague BS.
From my reading of the case law where there is a dispute about architectural standards yada, and where a court decides in favor of a HOA member and against the HOA, courts typically rest their reasoning on the "vague BS." The vague BS is not acceptable as a contractual term.

Your progress seems good.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2902


07/17/2020 5:05 PM  
John,

Please remember all this - and, work in your community to fix this so that it does not occur to others in the future.
JohnM93
(Ohio)

Posts:13


07/17/2020 5:16 PM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 07/17/2020 5:05 PM
John,

Please remember all this - and, work in your community to fix this so that it does not occur to others in the future.




Out of the 60 lots, the developer has 3 and he told me he was able to remove himself from ARB review, and there are likely only another 5 lots left that are not built on that are for sale. The HOA president bought 3 lots around his house and doesn't plan to build or sell until he dies (I don't think he likes people).

So the good news is not many will be affected. The developer usually doesn't turn over neighborhoods until most lots are sold.

But thanks all for the advice and encouragement. I plan to make a stink at the next meeting and let everyone know what i think of our president.

One more funny thing - he wanted colors on the application - said if i didn't have actual color brands and numbers I could use "light, med, dark" for my gray trim, and just ensure i list "dark red" for the door so it is not actually bright red.

Like any of that is remotely enforceable (my wife has an art degree).
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