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Subject: Yards, Weeds, Overgrowth..
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Author Messages
PauG
(Maryland)

Posts:53


06/21/2010 2:52 PM  
I was on my HOA board for five years. I finally resigned after years of pulling out my hair to bring our neighborhood back to what it once was...a place where homeowners cared about their properties.

There are several homes that are being rented out where the owner is not in compliance with the covenants. Example: Homeowner has painted the trim two different colors, and it is suspected he has turned the house into a boarding house for immigrants. On the lower level the renters have boarded up the windows with flattened cardboard boxes.
A letter was sent to the homeowner two years ago, then again this year, about the trim and he has fines being added weekly. Still he ignores it and the house is an embarrassment to the neighborhood.
A letter was sent to the homeowner and renter (in English and Spanish) about the windows. They have ignored it.


Another house that is being used as a boarding house keeps their curtains tied in knots and their screen door tied open - signs they have room - and were sent letters. Board and Management company ignored again.

Some homeowners have allowed weeds to take over their yards and do nothing.

I quit because our management company would only send letters or make calls. No one had a solution on how to handle these blighted properties. I was so frustrated I quit. But as I drive into the neighborhood I see the condition of things and am considering going back on the board.

How would some of you handle these situations in your HOA?
MicheleD
(Kentucky)

Posts:4491


06/21/2010 6:13 PM  
Pau, no offense, but why is the HOA not bringing legal action against the homeowners and simply sending letters and/or fines?

Our documents allow for legal remedies, and they also indicate that the homeowner is responsible for legal fees if enforcement of covenants requires legal action.

It's not the management company's call to go to the next step. It's the board's call. And if you are on the board, again, no offense, but that is your failure, not the PM's.

Also, if these homes are being used as boarding homes, why has your board not turned the addresses into the local zoning enforcement officials?

That would be another avenue for your board to pursue as well.

Plus, with boarded up windows, I might also refer the addresses to the local police department for suspicion of Meth production.

You have had 5 years to figure out a plan beyond simply the paper tiger route.

I don't blame you for feeling frustrated, but it appears that the board is either unaware of their options through your controlling documents, or they are simply afraid to pursue them.

I do know one thing, if you leave the board, you will have even fewer options against these homeowners.

Maybe you could reconsider your resignation, locate a local attorney well versed in HOA affairs, and go after these landlords with the full force of your documents?

MicheleH1
(Florida)

Posts:14


08/29/2010 8:27 PM  
I stepped up to the board this year after watching my neighborhood fall into a similar state of disrepair. You took the first step and sent them letters. But its only the first step and it rarely works. Go right to the attorney for the association and have them take the next step. If they are renters, the attorney will send a warning to the owner advising them to evict their tenants immediately or the association will sue the owner. This step usually works (we have had tenants evicted last month because they caused a problem).

One of the best things I did was to open a dialogue with the assistant and/or paralegal at the attorney's office. That way when your management company gets lazy (as they always do) you can get approval from the board and as a board member, you are well within your right to contact the attorney's office yourself. The attorney works for you...not your management company.

That is when I started seeing results.
MaryA1


Posts:0


08/30/2010 7:03 AM  
Michele,

Pardon me for saying this but, IMO, it's boards such as yours that give HOAs a bad name. Going immediately to the attorney to take action against a member for a CCR violation is a bit overhanded. Before taking this step, the BOD should send a letter to the member advising them of the violation and giving them a period of time to cure it. If they do not comply then fines can be levied. If the issue is maintaining their property most CCRs allow the board to take care of the job and bill the member, but before going that route the BOD should contact the member and let them know this is what will happen if they do not cure the violation. Also, demanding the member to evict their tenants for violating a CCR restriction with an added threat that the HOA will sue the member, is a bit harsh. For rental properties, all violation notices should go to the owner of the property. It is up to the owner to make certain the violation is cured and to decide if there are grounds to evict a tenant. The HOA would have no grounds to sue a member simply because their tenant violated the CCRs. This is just plain ludricrous!

Going directly to the attorney because your management co get lazy tells me you dont' understand that the board is in control not the mgmt co. When the mgmt co "gets lazy" it may be time to get a new one! Your attorney must love having your HOA as a client!!
MicheleH1
(Florida)

Posts:14


08/31/2010 8:49 AM  
MaryA1,

If you would not mind, please go back and re-read PauG's posting/question.

The problem presented was: Homes were not in compliance with regulations and the board member quit because the management company would only send letters or make calls. PauG was looking for answers on what to do next.

In your response MaryA1 you type:

"Going immediately to the attorney to take action against a member for a CCR violation is a bit overhanded. Before taking this step, the BOD should send a letter to the member advising them of the violation and giving them a period of time to cure it"

Did you miss the part where letters were already sent? FOUR TIMES In PauG's short posting, he mentioned that letters were already sent.

We are discussing the next step. When owners ignore the violation letters the next step is for the attorney to step in. However, the attorney does not volunteer. The board must approve of the additional expense of forwarding the cases to the attorney and once the decision is made, The attorney must be asked/told to step in.

As far as laziness...PauG's management company sent letters and made calls, it was lazy of them to not consult the attorney. Most management companies do not do that until told to by the board. Board members are forever wishing their management company would suggest these solutions but in the end, they just don't...laziness??

What some board members should understand is that the inaction of the management company may be their own fault. Sometimes (and I have seen it with my own board) the board members are asking why the management company is not taking further action. When in actuality the board is responsible for these decisions. If you want your management company to do something...the board must tell them to. (by the way, do not ask them to do something more than once. If you have asked them to do something, the next time is a demand. If they continue than find a new management company. )

We had a management company for 10 years. They got lazy...stop responding to requests and we fired them. (it is extremely easy to do!!!!!! The board just decides to do it...then the board interviews new management companies...have a quick board meeting to decide on the company, then the new management company will handle the rest!)

A little tip from me to the board of directors of any community: If you have had the same management company for several years, take a look at what you are paying in managent fees. Then meet with a few different management companies and see what they will charge you. (You do not need a board decision to interview new management companies.) By going with a new company it cut our monthly management fees in half!


MicheleD thank you for your response as well. Hopefully it helps people understand when it comes from a couple of different sources.
MaryA1


Posts:0


08/31/2010 2:43 PM  
Michele,

I was responding to your message not PauG's which is several months old! PauG has not responded again and Michele hasn't been around for several months.

BTW, when a BOD relies on the manager to make suggestions and the manager doesn't and it results in things not getting done or actions not being taken, etc. I would certainly not put the blame on the manager. I doubt that any manager's or mgmt co's contract says the manager must lead the board by the nose! I know these board members are "just volunteers" (a phrase that raises my hackles!) but that doesn't mean they should not be able to learn to do their job proficiently, which includes, but is not limited to, reading and understanding their governing documents and any applicable state and fed laws pertaining to HOAs.
MicheleH1
(Florida)

Posts:14


09/01/2010 12:09 AM  
MaryA1,

1) PauG posted a question regarding what the next step should be when violation letters and phone calls do not solve the problem.

2) I responded by advising that the next step is to contact the attorney.

3) You responded to my post advising me that in your opinion my board gives boards a bad name writing: "going immediately to the attorney to take action against a member for a CCR violation is a bit overhanded. Before taking this step, the BOD should send a letter to the member advising them of the violation and giving them a period of time to cure it".

This was not my response at all. The attorney comes after the letters from the management company.

4) Now, in your latest response you wrote: "I would certainly not put the blame on the manager. I doubt that any manager's or mgmt co's contract says the manager must lead the board by the nose!"

Perhaps MaryA1 you missed the sentence I wrote that said that board members need to understand that if the management company is not taking action it may be the board's own fault. I went on to say that board members are responsible for the decisions made.

I would like to note that I interviewed 4 management companies and on all of their proposals and contracts it is noted that part of the management company's responsibility is to offer guidance in the running of our community.

What is so strange about our dialogue is that you and I are actually fighting on the same side and I am hoping that our continuing dialogue might help you understand your misapprehensions.

Ps. That volunteer label makes me crazy too. It demeans the importance of what we do.


MaryA1


Posts:0


09/01/2010 6:50 AM  
Michele,

Sorry I misunderstood your original message.

BTW, a manager offering guidance and the BOD letting them totally run the show are two different things. And even if the BOD relies on the manager to offer them guidance that doesn't mean they should get a pass on reading and understanding their gov. documents and applicable state and fed laws. Afterall, the manager's guidance may be lacking or way off track!
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