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Subject: Heavy-handed Mgmt Company pt 2
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BillD16
(Texas)

Posts:9


07/18/2021 12:58 PM  
Hello again. I asked a question here just a couple of days ago about dealing with a 'heavy-handed' property management company AMCo. There's a Board meeting tomorrow. Texas neighborhood of 600+ detached single-family homes.

Q1: AMCo is sending out approx 140 violations each month. Is that a lot? Most are minor and do not incur fines.

Q2: I'd like for the AMCo 'patrol schedule' to be public, ie "AMCo will be in the neighborhood on the 15th and 30th of each month". Is this a bad idea?

Q3: Can anyone point me at an *unbiased* source re Texas HOAs/ROAs and lawsuits? I can't seem to find anything but law firms (that say vague stuff and then advise me to hire them) and anti-HOA grudge sites. Is there anything that goes past "anybody can sue anyone for anything" and gets to "here are some actual lawsuits that have been filed, their outcomes, and what an HOA should take away from each case"?

(Our ROA is currently 'between lawyers').

Thanks.

Bill
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:4062


07/18/2021 4:41 PM  
If you're already doing what you're supposed to do regarding complying with the CCRs, you won't care if or when the patrols roll through, so why do you or anyone else need a heads up? If the violations are minor, all the homeowners need to do is fix the problem.

As to whether 140 notices is a lot, that's subjective. That could depend on the size of the community relative to the number of homes with violations. You have 140 out of 600 with a violation, so if that's one per house, that's about 23%. That's may not be a huge percentage and you don't say if these notices are for the same violation or if there are homes with more than one and that might drop the number of affected homes

CCR enforcement can be tricky - some think the violation notices are overkill while others note if the association DOESN'T start enforcing the rules with the small stuff, what happens when someone or several do something that's even more obnoxious? You have to start enforcement somewhere, and for all you know, the board is trying to send a message

You were complaining about a "heavy handed property manager," but I believe others have said, as do I, that the property manager works at the direction of the board. Instead of yelling lawsuit, why don't you go to the next board meeting and express your concerns? And read your CCRs and go around your house and make sure you're in compliance- it could help you sound more credible. Bring along neighbors who feel as you and you can all speak your piece. I just hope they also resolved any violations or filed an appeal.

AugustinD


Posts:961


07/18/2021 5:28 PM  
Posted By BillD16 on 07/18/2021 12:58 PM

Q3: Can anyone point me at an *unbiased* source re Texas HOAs/ROAs and lawsuits? I can't seem to find anything but law firms (that say vague stuff and then advise me to hire them) and anti-HOA grudge sites. Is there anything that goes past "anybody can sue anyone for anything" and gets to "here are some actual lawsuits that have been filed, their outcomes, and what an HOA should take away from each case"?

(Our ROA is currently 'between lawyers').
-- For general reading and to start (and only start) to get a feel for how Texas appeals courts (including the Texas Supreme Court) think about certain HOA/COA topics, at https://law.justia.com/texas/ one can search the sub-sites as follows for HOA/COA lawsuits and what appeals courts said:

-- the Texas Supreme Court Decisions

-- Each of the District Courts of Appeals Decisions

Keep in mind there is a reason the good attorneys spend three years in law school and then a few years under the supervision of an experienced attorney.

Keep in mind that only the District Court of Appeals decisions for your district are binding on your area's trial court.

If you do not know the difference between a trial court and an appeals court, then I advise not wasting your time.
BillD16
(Texas)

Posts:9


07/18/2021 5:58 PM  
Posted By AugustinD on 07/18/2021 5:28 PM
Posted By BillD16 on 07/18/2021 12:58 PM

Q3: Can anyone point me at an *unbiased* source re Texas HOAs/ROAs and lawsuits? I can't seem to find anything but law firms (that say vague stuff and then advise me to hire them) and anti-HOA grudge sites. Is there anything that goes past "anybody can sue anyone for anything" and gets to "here are some actual lawsuits that have been filed, their outcomes, and what an HOA should take away from each case"?

(Our ROA is currently 'between lawyers').
-- For general reading and to start (and only start) to get a feel for how Texas appeals courts (including the Texas Supreme Court) think about certain HOA/COA topics, at https://law.justia.com/texas/ one can search the sub-sites as follows for HOA/COA lawsuits and what appeals courts said:

-- the Texas Supreme Court Decisions

-- Each of the District Courts of Appeals Decisions

Keep in mind there is a reason the good attorneys spend three years in law school and then a few years under the supervision of an experienced attorney.

Keep in mind that only the District Court of Appeals decisions for your district are binding on your area's trial court.

If you do not know the difference between a trial court and an appeals court, then I advise not wasting your time.



Thank you, sir! Good stuff! (and your observation re attorneys and law school is duly noted).
BillD16
(Texas)

Posts:9


07/18/2021 6:16 PM  
Posted By SheliaH on 07/18/2021 4:41 PM
If you're already doing what you're supposed to do regarding complying with the CCRs, you won't care if or when the patrols roll through, so why do you or anyone else need a heads up? If the violations are minor, all the homeowners need to do is fix the problem.

As to whether 140 notices is a lot, that's subjective. That could depend on the size of the community relative to the number of homes with violations. You have 140 out of 600 with a violation, so if that's one per house, that's about 23%. That's may not be a huge percentage and you don't say if these notices are for the same violation or if there are homes with more than one and that might drop the number of affected homes

CCR enforcement can be tricky - some think the violation notices are overkill while others note if the association DOESN'T start enforcing the rules with the small stuff, what happens when someone or several do something that's even more obnoxious? You have to start enforcement somewhere, and for all you know, the board is trying to send a message

You were complaining about a "heavy handed property manager," but I believe others have said, as do I, that the property manager works at the direction of the board. Instead of yelling lawsuit, why don't you go to the next board meeting and express your concerns? And read your CCRs and go around your house and make sure you're in compliance- it could help you sound more credible. Bring along neighbors who feel as you and you can all speak your piece. I just hope they also resolved any violations or filed an appeal.



I guess I should have noted that I *am* on the Board. I try to boil my questions down to the bare minimum - but sometimes I miss the mark.

I know that the # of notices is subjective - I was wondering if anyone could give me actual figures from their experience, ala "When I was on the Board, we had X units and typically sent around N notices per month". I ask because I'd like to try to get an idea if our mgmt company is being reasonable or not.

Re giving the neighborhood a 'heads up': really I'm just curious if there's any downside to doing so.

I'm not arguing with anything you said (and I appreciate your taking the time to respond). I just didn't get a lot out of your answers, sorry.

Bill
MaxB4
(Maine)

Posts:701


07/18/2021 6:43 PM  
Posted By AugustinD on 07/18/2021 5:28 PM
Posted By BillD16 on 07/18/2021 12:58 PM

Q3: Can anyone point me at an *unbiased* source re Texas HOAs/ROAs and lawsuits? I can't seem to find anything but law firms (that say vague stuff and then advise me to hire them) and anti-HOA grudge sites. Is there anything that goes past "anybody can sue anyone for anything" and gets to "here are some actual lawsuits that have been filed, their outcomes, and what an HOA should take away from each case"?

(Our ROA is currently 'between lawyers').
-- For general reading and to start (and only start) to get a feel for how Texas appeals courts (including the Texas Supreme Court) think about certain HOA/COA topics, at https://law.justia.com/texas/ one can search the sub-sites as follows for HOA/COA lawsuits and what appeals courts said:

-- the Texas Supreme Court Decisions

-- Each of the District Courts of Appeals Decisions

Keep in mind there is a reason the good attorneys spend three years in law school and then a few years under the supervision of an experienced attorney.

Keep in mind that only the District Court of Appeals decisions for your district are binding on your area's trial court.

If you do not know the difference between a trial court and an appeals court, then I advise not wasting your time.



I for one would love to know the reason the good attorneys spend three years in law school and then a few years under the supervision of an experienced attorney.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10364


07/18/2021 6:49 PM  
How do you think becoming an Attorney works? This is pretty typical for many attorney's to apprenticeship in a law firm for a few years. If not mistaken, you may also need a 4 year degree BEFORE pursuing a law degree. Hence why it is 3 years of additional schooling. You have to work your way up to partner to get your name on that commercial. Once that happens then you are considered a "good" attorney.

Otherwise you kind of look like the "Lincoln Lawyer" or Matt Damon's character. Oh let's not forget about having to pass the Bar as well.

Former HOA President
MarkM19
(Texas)

Posts:825


07/18/2021 6:55 PM  
Bill,
So I just did a quick look at our PMCs Smartwebs tool and I see very few new notices. I will be asking questions in the morning regarding why our numbers appear to be very low. We are paying for 2 inspections a month and they have been pretty good about sending the notes. Without these notes people will always take advantage of the lack of enforcement. Anyone who has violations gets a notice the same day it is recorded and simple math would tell them every 2 weeks. Advertising would be a way to punish the ill informed owners. I would not recommend it at all. The rules are for everyone and without them your community becomes much less desirable. So many owners in HOA have no idea what the rules actually are that they all agreed to by signing the loan paperwork. A simple reminder every once in a while is not that bug of a deal.

On a slightly separate note in the past with our past PMC notices were sent out to owners that had not committed any violation typically this happens when a car is parked in front of a house and the owner lives across the street. This makes people who comply with the rules furious when they get a notice when it was an error. I have had many a conversation with PM that I would rather send less notes and make sure they are 100% accurate. If a owner gets a note when they have never interacted with management in error they instantly have a bad impression.
MaxB4
(Maine)

Posts:701


07/18/2021 6:57 PM  
Posted By MelissaP1 on 07/18/2021 6:49 PM
How do you think becoming an Attorney works? This is pretty typical for many attorney's to apprenticeship in a law firm for a few years. If not mistaken, you may also need a 4 year degree BEFORE pursuing a law degree. Hence why it is 3 years of additional schooling. You have to work your way up to partner to get your name on that commercial. Once that happens then you are considered a "good" attorney.

Otherwise you kind of look like the "Lincoln Lawyer" or Matt Damon's character. Oh let's not forget about having to pass the Bar as well.



I worked for a HOA law firm than owned a management company. I often would scratch my head wondering what they actually taught in law school. I also prefer ethical lawyers and they few and far between.
MarkM19
(Texas)

Posts:825


07/18/2021 7:00 PM  
Max,
The joke that I have always used regarding lawyers is.

99% of them ruin it for the good 1% of them.

I have never been a fan.
MaxB4
(Maine)

Posts:701


07/18/2021 7:05 PM  
Is the goal to see how many violations one could write and still want to live in that community?

What if cities wanted to really beef up their revenue, hire a bunch more cops and nail the average citizen left and right for every little thing we know we break on a daily basis.
BillD16
(Texas)

Posts:9


07/18/2021 7:15 PM  
Posted By MaxB4 on 07/18/2021 6:43 PM


I for one would love to know the reason the good attorneys spend three years in law school and then a few years under the supervision of an experienced attorney.



I’m going to risk an answer to this: law school teaches you about the law. But many / most law schools don’t teach much about the practical aspects of being a lawyer. Sure, Pudd’nhead Wilson could start up a practice in rural Missouri straight out of law school in the 1890s. It’s a lot tougher these days.

I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve worked with many attorneys down the decades before I retired. I’ve asked the same question, and typically received some version of the above.

Bill
BillH10
(Texas)

Posts:737


07/18/2021 7:16 PM  
BillD16

First, I must echo the thoughts of SheliaH: if the management company is perceived as being heavy handed, or actually is, it is the responsibility of the Board to direct the MC to be less so.

Talk of courts and lawsuits, and researching precedents, is very premature. I would think if your Association approached a HOA attorney with this issue, he or she would tell the Association management direction of the activities of the MC is the responsibility of the Association.

If a majority of the Board is in agreement with you, then the Board should ask to meet with the principal(s) of the MC to discuss and define the role of the MC regarding compliance matters. If the MC declines to meet, or does not implement changes as directed by the Board, then it is the responsibility of the Board to terminate the relationship with the MC.

Next, also as posted by Sheila, the actual dates of the review schedule should not be published. Every property owner in the Association should assume there will be a compliance review every day; the appearance and compliance of the property should reflect that assumption.

On the other hand, if the MC is 'gigging' a property because a trash tote is in the driveway on the review day, when owners are performing landscaping and maintenance activities, then, yes, I would agree they are being heavy handed. Out of line is the language I would use. But, what are the specific circumstances to which you are referring.

Finally, you have not told us much about yourself. You are on the Board. For how long? How long has this MC been in place? How long has the Association been under owner control.

If the MC was hired four months ago, with a mandate to address issues a previous Board, or MC, or both, did not address, then yes, the compliance issue percentage you quoted may be perfectly reasonable.

I must observe, your questions seem as though you are new to the Board and possibly to living in an HOA. What is the scope of work of the responsibilities of the MC. Is the MC following the scope or taking an approach not defined in the contract or operating agreement.
MaxB4
(Maine)

Posts:701


07/18/2021 7:18 PM  
Posted By MarkM19 on 07/18/2021 7:00 PM
Max,
The joke that I have always used regarding lawyers is.

99% of them ruin it for the good 1% of them.

I have never been a fan.



Or what you call 100 attorneys at the bottom of the ocean

A good start
MaxB4
(Maine)

Posts:701


07/18/2021 7:26 PM  
Management companies don't get paid extra for writing a lot of violations. A management company, once hired by a HOA, needs to sit down with the board to go over the perimeters of the contract. One would be how often, when and how strict re you going to be. As a PM, I can write more violations than a cop who has a quota. If a PM is going to focus on something particular this month, like maybe fence painting, they need to give the Board a heads up, as we I walk my dog in the evening I don't want to get bombarded with all these owner yelling what the hell is going on. If it is a community of 100 or more units I do monthly campaigns, focus on a different area every month.
BillD16
(Texas)

Posts:9


07/18/2021 7:26 PM  
Posted By MarkM19 on 07/18/2021 6:55 PM
Bill,
So I just did a quick look at our PMCs Smartwebs tool and I see very few new notices. I will be asking questions in the morning regarding why our numbers appear to be very low. We are paying for 2 inspections a month and they have been pretty good about sending the notes. Without these notes people will always take advantage of the lack of enforcement. Anyone who has violations gets a notice the same day it is recorded and simple math would tell them every 2 weeks. Advertising would be a way to punish the ill informed owners. I would not recommend it at all. The rules are for everyone and without them your community becomes much less desirable. So many owners in HOA have no idea what the rules actually are that they all agreed to by signing the loan paperwork. A simple reminder every once in a while is not that bug of a deal.

On a slightly separate note in the past with our past PMC notices were sent out to owners that had not committed any violation typically this happens when a car is parked in front of a house and the owner lives across the street. This makes people who comply with the rules furious when they get a notice when it was an error. I have had many a conversation with PM that I would rather send less notes and make sure they are 100% accurate. If a owner gets a note when they have never interacted with management in error they instantly have a bad impression.



Mark, thank you for your response!

One thing: in my neighborhood, there is considerable dissatisfaction with the quantity and accuracy of the violation notices. I don’t know if my neighborhood’s numbers are “high” or “average” or what. But it’s nice to have another datapoint.

Bill
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:500


07/19/2021 8:55 AM  
Posted By MaxB4 on 07/18/2021 7:26 PM
Management companies don't get paid extra for writing a lot of violations. A management company, once hired by a HOA, needs to sit down with the board to go over the perimeters of the contract. One would be how often, when and how strict re you going to be. As a PM, I can write more violations than a cop who has a quota. If a PM is going to focus on something particular this month, like maybe fence painting, they need to give the Board a heads up, as we I walk my dog in the evening I don't want to get bombarded with all these owner yelling what the hell is going on. If it is a community of 100 or more units I do monthly campaigns, focus on a different area every month.




Some of them do.

There is a nationwide company, for whom I used to work, that does bill for violations. The monthly fee includes sending out violation notices up to 10% of the number of lots. Beyond that, associations are charged $x per letter. I forget the amount but it wasn't insignificant. It was a few bucks. This same company also employs compliance drivers, so the person recording the violation isn't the manager - which I really hated, since I was the one getting the calls when people disputed a violation.


to the OP - the board calls the shots. If you want the management company to be less heavy handed, the board just has to direct them otherwise. Sometimes violations are indisputable - say a broken fence - and sometimes they are judgment calls (i.e. landscaping). Get your board members together and suggest developing some standards that your management company can use for these judgement call situations. Then communicate those to the management company.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11180


07/19/2021 11:35 AM  
Bill

140 violations a month for an association of 600 standalone homes does not make sense. Are they charging you for violation letters? There is disconnect here some where.
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