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Subject: board approving payment of repair costs
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Author Messages
LaskaS
(Texas)

Posts:536


08/18/2021 9:43 PM  
hello,

I am concerned about the continued inconsistent application of the owner vs association responsibilities.

The current property manager presents at the meeting an invoice that needs to be paid. The work is inside a unit and is not a common element. I know there are exceptions, like negligence .

What i'm asking is, what can be done about the property manager submitting invoices for board approval for work that is specified in our documents as owner responsibility.

I'm sure the other 251 owners would not approve of the property manager deciding that repair work responsibility is up for a board vote.

This is simply opening up a can of worms. The other board members may or may not ask questions. The problem is, the documents say owners are responsible for repair and maintenance of xyz,,, association is responsible for repair and maintenance of abc. Currently the property manager is designating xyz repairs to be paid for by the association. I know this is wrong. I try and get other vboard members to ask detailed questions. The property manager has a way of wiggling around the truth and won't ever answer a question directly.

Is this something that an owner or group of owners can go to small claims court and get an injunction to instruct the invoices in question to be properly designated as owner responsibility. Can owners get an injunction to prevent the property manager from putting these decisions up for consideration.. I know some repairs are gray areas. However, the ones i'm talking about are not at all. The owner in question just happens to be friendly with the property manager.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10590


08/19/2021 3:59 AM  
Another court case for an internal issue? Seriously your board decides what is approved and then submits it to the MC to pay out. Sometimes that can cross lines as each situation is different. Like a pipe may shift in the ground ruining the grass. The owner may need to fix the pipe but the HOA may need to replace the grass. Our HOA is responsible for lawncare.

So I can't say the MC is doing wrong nor can I say the board is. Just know the relationship is for the board to approve and the MC to follow the board. Unless it's developer owned.

Former HOA President
PatJ1
(North Carolina)

Posts:295


08/19/2021 4:14 AM  
Are you on the Board? I am assuming condos. The Board should be involved before the invoice is even received by having limits on what the MC can approve.

- Has the Board given the MC a maximum amount, $250/$1500, to approve without Board approval?
- Are you contracting with a large MC with calls being handled by multiple people in a maintenance department where they just send someone out?

We are 40 year old stacked housing, 20 buildings and 144 units. The present Board has been in place for 7 years with only 3 of 5 positions filled. No one else wants to do this job. We were spending $00,000 of dollars a year in NON HOA responsible damage/maintenance issues. Some were even owner insurance related (interior damage), but no one knew and our PM didn't understand our Master Policy.

This is what we have done over the years and where we are now.

- Contacted our attorney to review our governing documents and created a memo that could be sent to owners to explain when the HOA is responsible for repairs. If your roof leaks, we don't fix your ceiling. (Not going to get into negligence here. Just because the roof is old, doesn't mean that the HOA was negligent). I think the memo cost us $1,500 and has saved that 10X over the past few years. In addition, owners argue less when it's a memo from our attorney. It also was amazing how many of our owners didn't even have insurance for their units because they thought the Master Policy covered everything.

- Initially had it stated in our MC contract that all repairs over $500.00 needed Board approval. Found out that didn't work when an owner called about a water leak and the MC assumed it was a plumbing issue only to find out it was a window leak because details were lacking, or that their dishwasher/washing machine was leaking. Invoiced for too many plumbing calls when it wasn't plumbing or HOA.

Now all maintenance requests are forwarded to the Board by the PM. Emergency calls go directly to the Board and the PM. If the owner can not detail the issue, we have 60% rentals so owners are relying on their renter for information, we collect as much info as we can and explain to the owner that we will be happy to send someone out, but if the issue is determined to be responsibility of the owner, the invoice amount will be added to their HOA account. The owner has to agree to this before we send someone out or they can call someone themselves. If it turns out to be an HOA issue, the HOA will reimburse them for the HOA portion of the call.

Calls involving 2 units are tricky and are handled by a Board member onsite ASAP. Many of our calls turn out to be owner to owner, upstairs toilet leaking and such, but with the Board involved we can minimize damages and get the issue repaired by informing the owner responsible that they will be billed. This can save us from a Master Policy claim.

This approach has worked for us, but it's not for everyone. We address every issue on a case by case basis. No need for the MC to send someone out to trim a tree called in by an owner when the Board is reviewing a community wide $25,000 tree maintenance quote that the Maintenance Dept. doesn't know about.

Many of our owners treat our condos like a corporate owned apartment complex, well, we look like one. Just pick up the phone and it will get fixed. They were in for a rude wakening when they found out that is was their responsibility and the HOA is there to maintain HOA community property. And, no, we don't employ a maintenance department to sweep your breezeway or repair your damages because you don't carry unit insurance.
















Board members are volunteers. Many have no idea what they're doing. Educate them. Don't beat them up.
JohnT38
(South Carolina)

Posts:794


08/19/2021 4:39 AM  
"What i'm asking is, what can be done about the property manager submitting invoices for board approval for work that is specified in our documents as owner responsibility."

I think you've got this backwards. Why are you asking about the property manager when you are implying that the board is approving repairs that the HOA should not pay for? I find your focus on the property manager baffling. If what you are saying is true the real issue is your board doesn't know their own governing documents or they don't care. IMHO this is the REAL problem.
PatJ1
(North Carolina)

Posts:295


08/19/2021 5:39 AM  
Would also like to add that here in North Carolina Small Claims Court does not provide injunctions. Small claims court is to collect money owed which could result in a judgement. Perhaps it's different in your state.

If owners want answers to your Boards handling of your MC's incurring/paying these bills they may have to hire an attorney to review their concerns. You do present valid questions.


Board members are volunteers. Many have no idea what they're doing. Educate them. Don't beat them up.
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:589


08/19/2021 5:42 AM  
By all means run to an attorney instead of having a conversation or, idk, voting out this board that doesn’t do anything the way you want them to.
LaskaS
(Texas)

Posts:536


08/19/2021 5:52 AM  
sorry, I forgot to give details.

Our condominiums are self managed. the association employs a manager to run the office and carry out the day to day operations according to the boards direction. We also employee 3 full tiome maintenance staff.

our property manager is actually a board member who was previously the president . While he was president he acted outside his authority and provided misinformation and half information to the board when he wanted a decision made.

The board member/acting property manager assured the board he was willing to fill the office temporarily until the board found a qualified experienced manager. I was skeptical. He assured the board he would clean up the books that has basically been not kept for 7 months (the previous manager). He also assured the board he would use the board approved and paid for maintenance documentation and record system for all property maintenance and repairs.

I'm getting in the weeds.

I was on the board for 3 years. I know the documents better than anyone else. I know that sometimes an issue is a grey area and the board will decide. I"M NOT TALKING ABOUT THAT.

I'm talking about a p-trap repair under a toilet in a downstairs unit that affected no other unit.

our documents state that any fixtures inside a unit and the utilities that serve only that unit . the repair and maintenance is the responsiblity of the owners.

The owner in question is friends with the acting property manager/board member.

At the meeting last night, the board member property manager sends out a packet of information 20 pages long the day of the meeting. Most board members didn't see it til at the meeting. Then, the property manager as he's going through his report ,, says.." I have an invoice for plumbing repairs in 181. Before I approved the work, i got two bids and the other one was too high. This plumber was very reasonable and the invoice is 1249. I make a motion for the board to approve the payment of this repair invoice"

about 30 second later the parliamentarian says. if i hear no objection the motion passes.


I'm not allowed to talk. I m not allowed to ask questions. Not a single board member asks if the repair is the responsibility of the association.. after the meeting, i read through the packet that the property manager/board member submitted at the last minute. The invoice for the repair for the plumbing in 181 says replace p trap under toilet bathroom one. replace wax ring reseat tiolet. etc..

LaskaS
(Texas)

Posts:536


08/19/2021 6:10 AM  
we already have the attorney written letter detailing what is owner responsibility and what is association responsibility.

The problem is, sometimes its followed , sometimes its not. the pattern is, if the issue is with one of the property manager/board member/owner of 3 unites that all have tenants., units. or one of his supporters,, the issues will be categorized incorrectly as association responsibility.

I"M NOT TALKING GREY AREA or two units .etc. I know the nuances and how there is no black and white answer for many issues.

I"M TALKING ABOUT absolute black and white issues. "replace kitchen drain assembly and caulk around openings".

I resigned from the board. But i still attend every meeting. (the board never communicates with owners, never publishes minutes. It took me a year and many outbursts and emails to get the board to admit they were even required to keep minutes. ( actually, the year was for that board to make decisions and spend homeowner money on things that they did not have authority to do. they wouldn't answer questions, they literally did not even know the bylaws or requirements for open meetings and quorum requirements and board vote requirements. So that is when I and others petitioned the owners and we elected a new board ,,which i was on. ) Anyway, i don't want to get in the weeds. The entire nightmare is all here in various threads. Ive come here so many times in an effort to either confirm or refute my understanding of what was and wasn't proper and what remedies I had. Other than sue , which is basically sueing ourselves. blah blah.

the texas legislature did pass some bills that do apply to condominiums, specifically SENATE BILL 318 – Production and Keeping of Books and Records by Condominium Associations

I also recall reading and possibley being given information by augustine regarding an owners right to go to small claims court for certain violations by a condo board.
Also, i know owners can sue the board for violating the associations governing documents in some cases.

I found other states that have allow owner to go to small claims and recover any sums spent if the claim is upheld.and also i know some states allow small claims courts to order an hoa to comply with its documents and or prevent them from acting outside their docuements.. nothing for texas though
LaskaS
(Texas)

Posts:536


08/19/2021 6:16 AM  
Barbara,


would you be ok with a board approving a single board member/acting property manager invoice presentation and request for approval that were not the responsibility of the association s defined by our attorney.

Your implication that my request for advice regarding the arbitrary and inconsistent following of the associations governing documents is somehow a temper tantrum because i don't get my way is not valid.

There are very few rights that owners have with regards to what a board can and cant do. I sure as hell do not try and get the board to follow my preference.. I don't have a preference. that would be stupid. The association is governed by the documents. period.
LaskaS
(Texas)

Posts:536


08/19/2021 6:26 AM  
I have no problem with a board making decisions , as long as they are within their authority, follow the governing documents and are in keeping with the boards fiduciary responsibilities to the association.

i.e . if the board votes to paint the black and i wanted grey. I have to accept that, because the board has a right to make that decision

if the property manger/board member is using his position as property manager , along with his knowledge that most board members will defer to his agenda despite the agenda item not being legally authorized to be considered. The owners are going to wait til the election to remove some of the bad apples. It's not worth another recall. I am asking if there is a procedure in place in texas that an owner can use the small claims courts to compel the board to follow the black and white items in the declaration. (which we have the hoa attorney's written breakdown of who is responsible for what and when)
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:589


08/19/2021 6:36 AM  
Posted By LaskaS on 08/19/2021 6:16 AM
Barbara,


would you be ok with a board approving a single board member/acting property manager invoice presentation and request for approval that were not the responsibility of the association s defined by our attorney.

Your implication that my request for advice regarding the arbitrary and inconsistent following of the associations governing documents is somehow a temper tantrum because i don't get my way is not valid.

There are very few rights that owners have with regards to what a board can and cant do. I sure as hell do not try and get the board to follow my preference.. I don't have a preference. that would be stupid. The association is governed by the documents. period.





It does not matter what I am okay with. It does not matter what anyone on this forum says about your situation.

We are not members of your association.

The membership is the checks and balances against board misconduct. If you think your board is not acting in the best interests of the association, gather your fellow members together and vote them out.
LaskaS
(Texas)

Posts:536


08/19/2021 7:40 AM  
well barbara.. i'm sure you are aware,

the system is stacked against interested homeowners.

It's a large hurdle and large cost and inconvenience to vote out a board mid term.

we will vote them out at the election in february. we already have more proxies than there were total votes cast in this past years election.

My question is to the forum members that have experienced similar circumstances (pat j 1 was a perfect example and he gave great advice)

I didn't suggest any of you were members of the association. If you don't have any helpful advice or relevant info, please just skip the thread.

Finally, "
If you think your board is not acting in the best interests of the association,......"


My opinion on the best interests of the association has nothing to do with my question.

I asked a question and gave the relevant facts and relevant background. Any question regarding associations in these forums needs this info. otherwise, the answers probably don't apply.

some people actually like helping other help themselves. knowledge is power.
AugustinD


Posts:1920


08/19/2021 9:14 AM  
Posted By LaskaS on 08/19/2021 6:10 AM
we already have the attorney written letter detailing what is owner responsibility and what is association responsibility.

The problem is, sometimes its followed , sometimes its not.
You submit a complaint to the HOA stating that such-and-such covenant is being violated. You ask for a response within ten days. If no response, you hire an attorney.

I agree with those here who say the problem is the board.

Don't be trying to directly control the manager. You have no legal power to do so. You do have the legal power to potentially force the board to comply with the covenants.
LaskaS
(Texas)

Posts:536


08/19/2021 1:29 PM  
augustine thanks.

I'm not trying to control the manager at all. i don't talk to him.
I am not allowed to talk at the meetings.

I was hoping there was a way to go to small claims court and to have an order to compel the board to follow the declaration .specifically, when the responsible party is clear, the board must follow the declaration regarding maintenance and repair responsibilities
AugustinD


Posts:1920


08/19/2021 1:49 PM  
Posted By LaskaS on 08/19/2021 6:10 AM
I also recall reading and possibley being given information by augustine regarding an owners right to go to small claims court for certain violations by a condo board.
Texas small claims court is also known as "Justice Court." The only power a Texas Justice Court has is to award money in appropriate cases. Justice Court cannot order a Board to comply with the governing documents.

See
https://www.texasbar.com/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Consumer_and_Tenant_Rights1&Template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=24859

and read the links at:

https://guides.sll.texas.gov/small-claims
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