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Subject: Mandatory inspection of condos
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JanineR
(Tennessee)

Posts:154


07/14/2021 8:11 AM  

Mandatory inspection of condos?

The minutes say the following:

"We discussed the broader issue of short term rental owners operating without HOA notification/fees.
A motion was made and approved to take pictures of all unit doors and living rooms to archive for HOA management purposes during a mandatory inspection. Motion carried 4 to 1."


The master deed says:
"Notwithstanding anything to the contrary herein contained, the Association has a right of entry into any Unit in order to perform emergency repairs or to do other work necessary for the maintenance of the Condominium."

Is it okay for HOA to enter for a mandatory inspection? If it is not related to repairs?
AugustinD


Posts:962


07/14/2021 8:25 AM  
Posted By JanineR on 07/14/2021 8:11 AM
Is it okay for HOA to enter for a mandatory inspection? If it is not related to repairs?
First, please confirm: Is the goal of photographing the living room to check for airbnb and similar short term advertising, and then compare the photos in the advertising to the photos that the COA would put in its files?

Second, my take: I gather that some at your condo will argue that such an inspection concerns "maintenance of the Condominium." On the one hand, I hesitate to agree that this is a fair interpretation of "maintenance." On the other hand, short term rentals that violate the covenants (here, by improper notification and payment of fees) are such a problem, that I might very well support a Board interpreting the covenant to mean the HOA can photograph living rooms, as an aspect of maintaining the Condominium. Then I'd let the objecting owners threaten a lawsuit and see how far they want to go with this.

I recommend consultation with a HOA attorney at some point.

I look forward to CathyA3's thoughts in particular on this.

DouglasK1
(Florida)

Posts:1631


07/14/2021 8:54 AM  
Personally I don't think taking pictures is "work necessary for the maintenance of the Condominium". If I were an owner, I'd fight it. I certainly would not proceed without confirming with the association attorney that they agree that taking pictures is a valid reason for accessing units.

Escaped former treasurer and director of a self managed association.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8290


07/14/2021 9:01 AM  
With Augie, what is the purpose of photographing the living room? And the interior of the front door?

Our condo CC&Rs say the Association's job is to maintain the common areas, not individual separate interest condos. Are you sure you cited the deed restrictions correctly about "maintaining the condo?"

So....our in-unit heat pumps (HVAC) are connected with the floors above & below them with a slender condensate line that can get clogged causing flooding in other units. Condos in our area DO have mandatory annual inspections of these in individual condo units to protect the common areas and other condos.

In what sense can a photo of a living room be considered "maintenance?"

Also with Augie, I'd consult with the HOA attorney. Are you on the board, Janine?

Wait, I may be reading this wrong. Are you saying the photo would be taken when the assn. is already in a unit doing some sort of mandatory inspection of it?
JanineR
(Tennessee)

Posts:154


07/14/2021 9:09 AM  
The association won't already be in the unit.
It will be a special "mandatory inspection" for the sole purpose of taking photos.
JohnT38
(South Carolina)

Posts:646


07/14/2021 9:13 AM  
Posted By JanineR on 07/14/2021 9:09 AM
The association won't already be in the unit.
It will be a special "mandatory inspection" for the sole purpose of taking photos.




I don't have the legal background to know if this will fly or not but I do know I'd tell the HOA to piss off if they wanted to snap photos of my interior.
PatJ1
(North Carolina)

Posts:129


07/14/2021 9:14 AM  
I am not in your state, but my first reaction is NO WAY I'm letting them in. The reason is not for maintenance purposes.

If the Board is concerned over abuse of short term rentals they need to figure out another way to approach it. Many uneducated Boards just believe that they have more rights than they do and all it takes is a Board vote.

Board members are volunteers. Many have no idea what they're doing. Educate them. Don't beat them up.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:4062


07/14/2021 9:18 AM  
I think they need to be more specific - for example, I could see looking at a ceiling of wall for signs of leaks, but to come into someone's unit just photograph the living room or whatever is ridiculous. And I don't get the stuff about the door.

Unless they could give me specific information about this inspection or even why it's mandatory, I'd refuse and keep my attorney at the ready in case they get cranky.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:4062


07/14/2021 9:27 AM  
Another thing - if this is related to a concern about short term rentals, there may be other ways to get verification of that. Maybe the board's needs to talk to the homeowners who aren't living in the unit and ask who is living there, reminding them of the short term rentals prohibition

If neighbors have concerns with all sorts of strangers moving in and out, they could talk to the owner-landlords and perhaps report their concerns to the property manager and board for follow up. This is where I'd keep the complainant's identity confidential unless things go legal and then I'd need them to testify.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2154


07/14/2021 9:38 AM  
Right of entry generally applies to situations where the physical structure of the property is at risk: a water pipe bursts, a smoke detector wailing, or similar. In addition to emergencies, the right of entry can apply if an owner refuses entry to allow the association to perform essential maintenance - this can include treatments for insects or replacing smoke/CO detectors.

It *may* also apply in situations where the health and safety of the owner of the unit is in question. This can happen if you have an elderly resident who tends to leave the stove on. But this is a really touchy situation and is often a balancing act, so the association needs to have their attorney involved before they overstep their bounds and wind up with a Fair Housing complaint.

I'm not a lawyer but I'm pretty sure that the right of entry does *not* apply in situations where you suspect someone is breaking the rules and you want to satisfy yourselves that they are not. I think that's WAY over the line and a lawsuit waiting to happen.
JanineR
(Tennessee)

Posts:154


07/14/2021 9:39 AM  
Thanks for the responses.
Here are some answers:


Short term renters:
Currently anyone who rents for less than 30 days is considered a short term renter (airbnb, vrbo, etc.) It was voted about five years ago to amend the documents to allow for less than 30 days, if they pay a yearly registration fee to the Association. (This actually saved the Association as money was running dry. It also increased our property values since owners are making great income airbnb-ing)

Other solutions:
I believe there is a much simpler solution from the HOA instead of mandatory inspection of all units.

There are 144 units.
They are receiving the yearly fee from 120 units. So they don't need to worry about those. There should be no reason to take photos, imo, if the unit owners are paying.
So that leaves 24 units in question.
10 units live here (including myself, 2 BOD's, 4 that have lived here forever, and 3 month to month renters.) All known to live here by the BODs, and those are not in question.
So that only leaves 14 units in question as to whether they are running as a short term renter without paying the annual fee to the Association.


Instead of doing a mandatory inspection of everyone's units, and taking photos of the living rooms and keeping them on file, they should reach out to just those 14 units.
(I personally find it invasive for the property manager to come into my living room and take photos. I have a home office in my living room.)

Mandatory inspections:
We have an annual fire sprinkler inspection every year, which happened last month. The PM entered all units. So she would have seen those 14 units in question. But instead they are saying ALL units need to have photos taken of their living room. I find that intrusive and unnecessary.

----------------------------

So the question is really down to the variance of 14.
Can those units be entered by the Association to observe if they are short term renters.
The replies seem to be steering towards no.

Or if they enter ALL units, can they take photos for their files if they clearly see that there is no short term rental violation? Such as my unit.
The replies seem to be steering towards no too.

(I also don't know how the living room is the indicator of who is or isn't a short term renter.)

---------------------------
Personally I will just say NO, to them entering my unit if there is no other maintenance. And see what they do.

However, since I am running for the Board, I wanted to see thoughts from the 'other side'.

So far this seems like a bad idea. And just an ad-service that the PM is going to charge for.
AugustinD


Posts:962


07/14/2021 9:43 AM  
Posted By JohnT38 on 07/14/2021 9:13 AM
I don't have the legal background to know if this will fly or not but I do know I'd tell the HOA to piss off if they wanted to snap photos of my interior.
Just my vote, but if a Condo Board, determined to stop violations concerning short term rentals, announced that all units will have their main living spaces photographed once a year and with the photos put on file, then any mild irritation I felt with this invasion of my space might readily be overcome by my far higher annoyance with owners violating the rules on short term rentals and their typically non-rule abiding tenants.

I believe some condo associations are comparing photos from ads on Zillow and realtor.com (from when a condo was on the market), to photos from short term rentals ads on airbnb.

JohnT38
(South Carolina)

Posts:646


07/14/2021 9:48 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 07/14/2021 9:43 AM
Posted By JohnT38 on 07/14/2021 9:13 AM
I don't have the legal background to know if this will fly or not but I do know I'd tell the HOA to piss off if they wanted to snap photos of my interior.
Just my vote, but if a Condo Board, determined to stop violations concerning short term rentals, announced that all units will have their main living spaces photographed once a year and with the photos put on file, then any mild irritation I felt with this invasion of my space might readily be overcome by my far higher annoyance with owners violating the rules on short term rentals and their typically non-rule abiding tenants.

I believe some condo associations are comparing photos from ads on Zillow and realtor.com (from when a condo was on the market), to photos from short term rentals ads on airbnb.





I'm confused. If you already know the home is listed in airbnb or you found a short term rental ad don't you already have the proof you need? What value does a picture of someone's current personal belongings add to this?
AugustinD


Posts:962


07/14/2021 9:49 AM  
Posted By JanineR on 07/14/2021 9:39 AM

Short term renters:
Currently anyone who rents for less than 30 days is considered a short term renter (airbnb, vrbo, etc.) It was voted about five years ago to amend the documents to allow for less than 30 days, if they pay a yearly registration fee to the Association. (This actually saved the Association as money was running dry. It also increased our property values since owners are making great income airbnb-ing)
-- Are you sure the increase in property values is not due to the housing bubble nationwide?

-- If the condo association wants to be mostly about landlord-owned "investment properties," and you as a candidate for the board support this, well okie-doke. Government loans for buyers will be less likely, on account of the high rental percentage. This could push sale prices down, due to less buyers being qualified to buy at your condo.
AugustinD


Posts:962


07/14/2021 9:51 AM  
Posted By JohnT38 on 07/14/2021 9:48 AM
Posted By AugustinD on 07/14/2021 9:43 AM
Posted By JohnT38 on 07/14/2021 9:13 AM
I don't have the legal background to know if this will fly or not but I do know I'd tell the HOA to piss off if they wanted to snap photos of my interior.
Just my vote, but if a Condo Board, determined to stop violations concerning short term rentals, announced that all units will have their main living spaces photographed once a year and with the photos put on file, then any mild irritation I felt with this invasion of my space might readily be overcome by my far higher annoyance with owners violating the rules on short term rentals and their typically non-rule abiding tenants.

I believe some condo associations are comparing photos from ads on Zillow and realtor.com (from when a condo was on the market), to photos from short term rentals ads on airbnb.





I'm confused. If you already know the home is listed in airbnb or you found a short term rental ad don't you already have the proof you need? What value does a picture of someone's current personal belongings add to this?
I think the airbnb'ers post minimal identifying information (e.g. no street address) and only give details to people who contact the landlord/hotel room owner directly.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2154


07/14/2021 9:55 AM  
Regarding rental violations in general:

* To find the short-term/hotel style rentals, you should do a regular check of the Airbnb and other websites. The landlords have to advertise their properties.

* The neighbors in the immediate area will also know if there is a steady procession of strangers - no inspections necessary.

* Vigorous enforcement of other violations by the tenants (noisy parties, damages, etc.) will be your friend. Landlords want to make money with as little fuss as possible, and a steady stream of fines/hearings/etc. will cut into their profits and up the nuisance factor for them. If they have a mortgage on the property, it may even result in them losing money. Use the tools you have.
MaxB4
(Maine)

Posts:701


07/14/2021 9:58 AM  
Here is a free legal opinion:

https://www.davis-stirling.com/HOME/right-of-entry
JanineR
(Tennessee)

Posts:154


07/14/2021 10:06 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 07/14/2021 9:49 AM
Posted By JanineR on 07/14/2021 9:39 AM


-- If the condo association wants to be mostly about landlord-owned "investment properties," and you as a candidate for the board support this, well okie-doke. Government loans for buyers will be less likely, on account of the high rental percentage. This could push sale prices down, due to less buyers being qualified to buy at your condo.





There was an over 67% vote by members in 2015 to allow short term renters.
I am in the minority because I actually live in my unit. The other 93% are now investment properties.
I think it is important to have someone that lives on property to be part of the board.
Most owners don't even live in this city, or state, so don't see the way the property is deteriorating day to day, or the lack of maintenance.
AugustinD


Posts:962


07/14/2021 10:18 AM  
Posted By JanineR on 07/14/2021 10:06 AM

There was an over 67% vote by members in 2015 to allow short term renters.
I am in the minority because I actually live in my unit. The other 93% are now investment properties.
Your numbers are helpful. The realities of your situation have sunk in for me. I expect this condo will always be way top-heavy with rentals.
I think it is important to have someone that lives on property to be part of the board.
I agree, as long as you can stand the many board votes favoring the landlords.
Most owners don't even live in this city, or state, so don't see the way the property is deteriorating day to day, or the lack of maintenance.
Hackneyed but true, "There's the rub."

I wonder if these landlord-owners care all that much about the property deterioration. Their bottom line calculations may indicate that loss of rent is minimal compared to the cost of an increased assessment to build up reserves and pay for the annual operating expenses.

I do not need details. But I am picturing a condo association in Nashville or similar, with lots of tourists and transient folks. For me, such a COA is no longer suitable for owner residency. The landlords have won, and completely legally.
JanineR
(Tennessee)

Posts:154


07/14/2021 10:32 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 07/14/2021 10:18 AM
Posted By JanineR on 07/14/2021 10:06 AM


I do not need details. But I am picturing a condo association in Nashville or similar, with lots of tourists and transient folks. For me, such a COA is no longer suitable for owner residency. The landlords have won, and completely legally.





You guessed right!

Our management and maintenance scope did not change when the members voted to allow short term renters.
The reality is that we need vandalism proof exit signs. A manner to clean up vomit (I'm not joking) on Mondays from overzealous Bachelor/Bachelorette parties. Guests need to understand you can't wash wigs down the toilet (again not joking, it caused a huge backup of sewage). The management and maintenance scope needs to align with the new reality. And out-of-towners don't see that, they just see the income.
JanineR
(Tennessee)

Posts:154


07/14/2021 10:33 AM  
Posted By CathyA3 on 07/14/2021 9:55 AM
Regarding rental violations in general:

* To find the short-term/hotel style rentals, you should do a regular check of the Airbnb and other websites. The landlords have to advertise their properties.

* The neighbors in the immediate area will also know if there is a steady procession of strangers - no inspections necessary.

* Vigorous enforcement of other violations by the tenants (noisy parties, damages, etc.) will be your friend. Landlords want to make money with as little fuss as possible, and a steady stream of fines/hearings/etc. will cut into their profits and up the nuisance factor for them. If they have a mortgage on the property, it may even result in them losing money. Use the tools you have.





I completely agree.

Out of the math that I posted. Those 14 unit variance can also be looked up on Metro's site as a permit is needed from the city to operate as a short-term. If they have a permit with metro, but aren't registered with the Association, then that is a violation, with a specific hefty fine. That brings the number of questionable units down to just a few. No need to go into everyone's unit and take photos of their living rooms.

To point two and three. Agree. If I knew the units in question, as someone who lives here, I could easily tell if they are short term renters or not by the traffic.
It is very much like living in a hotel. It is all noisy parties, damage, etc.
AugustinD


Posts:962


07/14/2021 10:51 AM  
Posted By JanineR on 07/14/2021 10:32 AM

Our management and maintenance scope did not change when the members voted to allow short term renters.
The reality is that we need vandalism proof exit signs. A manner to clean up vomit (I'm not joking) on Mondays from overzealous Bachelor/Bachelorette parties. Guests need to understand you can't wash wigs down the toilet (again not joking, it caused a huge backup of sewage). The management and maintenance scope needs to align with the new reality. And out-of-towners don't see that, they just see the income.
This is the worst situation I have ever seen described here with rentals and especially, STRs. Though I know it should come as no surprise. I trust you know this is a hot topic nationwide.

As I noted earlier, I expect there is no going back. Your condo is well over the tipping point.

I would be quite curious to know what the "percent funded" value is for your condo's reserve fund. This is not an easy calculation for a condo with a lot of common area. In the alternative, has a reserve study been done in the last five years? Is the Board funding reserves as the Reserve Study recommends? Or does your condo have a board that is illiterate when it comes to reserve studies, and so the board ignores them?
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