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Subject: honeowner wants to bring his lawyer to meeting
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Author Messages
LindaR
(Texas)

Posts:10


07/19/2006 12:35 PM  
we have a homeowner who is unhappy about the rental unit above him because of barking dogs. i have visited with the owner of the rental unit and he has written a letter to the renters advising that they have until the end of july to vacate (we have had other problems with the dogs damaging the railing on the patio, etc.) this homowner thinks that we should do something at once but i feel that we should give the owner of the rental unit until the end of this month to solve this since this is what his letter stated to the renters. i have heard that this angry homeowner plans to bring his lawyer to the next meeting - this owner has caused us a lot of grief in the past. how do i, as the president, handle this in the meeting, should he show up with his lawyer? i feel i can ask that he leave - i am in texas, please advise.
WilliamT
(Arizona)

Posts:489


07/19/2006 1:24 PM  
Most all states have landlord tenant laws now that spell out eviction procedures. Most of the states also have these laws available on line.

Is the tenant in violation of the Rules or Articles.

If it is a barking dog creating a nuisance then you need to check to see if your city has a nuisance law that covers barking dogs.

In our city there must be two separate families, or one family and the Police Officer who investigates to state that the barking dog creates a nuisance.

You also need to check your Declarations and Rules and prove there is a violation.

The rental owner can then use that "proof" as a reason for eviction. Without the proof, then they may have a dificult time evicting the tenant.

I looked up the Texas rental laws url for you. Here it is.

http://www.thelpa.com/lpa/landlord-tenant-law/texas-landlord-tenant-law.html

Find out the laws required to be followed in order to evict someone under the circumstances that you describe. Give a copy to the owner of the rental unit, and send a copy to the owner below the rental, and tell him that the board will have the rental owner comply with the law and have the tenant evicted as quickly as the law allows.

If he brings an attorney to the meeting, show the attorney the law, the Declaration and Rules dealing with barking dogs as nuisance; any local laws governing dogs; and the letters you have written.

That's about all you can do for now as I see it.

Bill
RogerB
(Colorado)

Posts:5067


07/19/2006 1:33 PM  
Linda, I would not ask the lawyer to leave. Check your By-laws but I think an owner has a right to bring someone to represent them at a meeting. As the Chair you could require members to request being on the agenda to make a specific motion or could simply recognize them under the agenda item New Business - Other. If the member or their representative makes a motion then under the discussion I would recognize their representative as the first to speak if the motion is seconded. If not seconded the motion dies and you procede to the next agenda item. You can set a specific amount of time, like 2 to 4 minutes, and allow only one member or respresentative per household to speak and only once per motion.

Perhaps you are concerned about the attorney because the Board has not done their job when they allow this barking to continue. This should be a violation of Covenant restrictions and the Owner and Renter notified they have 10 days to correct the problem or the owner will be fined. The Board needs to take action NOW and not wait for the owner to correct this problem. Perhaps a barking collar would stop the barking.
WilliamT
(Arizona)

Posts:489


07/19/2006 1:54 PM  
I agree with Roger. Do not ask anyone's representative to leave. They have a right to be there.

It is possible that you may, if you so choose, allow only one of the persons to speak. That is, the member may speak on his own behalf, or the representative may speak for him/her, but both may not speak. Just spell it out for them when it's their turn to talk.

First of all, follow your governing docs in providing the proper violation notices, follow the local governing laws (if any) regarding nuisance dog barking, and you'll be on the right track.

Bill
WilliamT
(Arizona)

Posts:489


07/19/2006 1:54 PM  
I agree with Roger. Do not ask anyone's representative to leave. They have a right to be there.

It is possible that you may, if you so choose, allow only one of the persons to speak. That is, the member may speak on his own behalf, or the representative may speak for him/her, but both may not speak. Just spell it out for them when it's their turn to talk.

First of all, follow your governing docs in providing the proper violation notices, follow the local governing laws (if any) regarding nuisance dog barking, and you'll be on the right track.

Bill
GeraldT1


Posts:0


07/19/2006 6:11 PM  
WilliamT,

The way I read LindaR's discusstion topic, it is the homeowner that is angry about the renters in the unit above that is unhappy, and wants to bring his attorney, not the renters with the barking dog.

GeraldT1
GeraldT1


Posts:0


07/19/2006 6:34 PM  
LindaR,

What you are describing should be handled as an alternative dispute between neighbors. There should be guidlines in your state laws and by-laws that govern your actions in instances of alternatiive disputes. Alternative dispute resolutions are methods created for HOA's to avoid litigation as a knee jerk response to quality of life issues we all have to live with in or outside of HOA's.

If I was on the board, I'd try to diffuse the situation. First, I'd immediately send a letter to the "unhappy" homeowner below the barking dogs THANKING him for being proactive enough to involve his attorney but it will not be necessary because it is not his responsibility to bear attorney costs for a matter that is unnaceptable and against the rules and regulations of the HOA. In the letter I would explain the renters have been given until the end of July to vacate, prior to getting attorneys involved please be extra patient at the current inconvenience, if the matter persists on August 1, please immediately bring it to the attention of the board because it is the renters and the owner of the renters that will bear the burden of stopping and correcting the situation.

As for bringing an attorney to a board meeting, you don't want to openly deny the attorney from sitting in but you may be able to since you are a private association. I wouldn't recommend it but I wouldn't devote time in OPEN SESSION to the matter that is sensitive and should be handled as an alternative disupte privately between owners. If you allow the attorney to speak, that may be taking time away from other owners that should take precedence.

The only thing I'd put on the agenda is, "A reading of the pet rules and regulations and the method to resolve any violation of the rules and regulations.". If specifics to this particular matter come up in open meeting discussion handle it diplomatically and invite the parties to further discussion at another time.

Best of success!!
GeraldT1
RogerB
(Colorado)

Posts:5067


07/19/2006 6:38 PM  
Gerald, I don't understand your post. It is the unhappy owner and their attorney to whom all of the posts refer. The renter has no right to be at the meeting.
GeraldT1


Posts:0


07/20/2006 9:13 AM  
RogerB,

I never said nor thought the renter was bringing an attorney or that the renter had a right to be at the meeting.

GeraldT1
DanC
(Colorado)

Posts:6


07/20/2006 2:07 PM  
I'm confused by that too. I thought that it was already clear that the homeowner was the one bringing the attorney. I think the responses thus far have been right on. You definitely DON'T want to deny the attorney access to the meeting since you probably don't have the right to do so in your bylaws and therefore doing so would be a trump card for the attorney.

On the other hand, I wonder if this attorney really exists. Eviction rules rely on tenant rights and in many states it can take MONTHS to legally evict someone. The attorney would know that and waiting to the end of the month for the problem to resolve is quite reasonable, given the circumstances.

The odd aspect of this is that the homeowner is whining to the HOA about barking dogs and trying , when quite likely the local police have some sort of ordinance about this already that they can enforce. They could fine the renter directly and eventually even take the dogs if the owner can't control them; depending on local law.

I like Gerald's reverse psychology idea of thanking the homeowner for his proactive approach and reminding him what he is paying to have the attorney show up at the meeting. I'd be surprised if it was under $1000 (short retainer).

-Dan
BrianB
(California)

Posts:2820


07/20/2006 2:33 PM  
1) Read your by-laws carefully, to ensure that folks other than homeowners have rights to attend meetings. Understand the rules you have in place, and follow them.
2) Whoever has rights to attend can attend. However, depending on the meeting's purpose, how it is conducted, etc., there is no guarantee that owners (or representatives of owners) get free reign to speak. Make sure you follow your rules, follow your agenda, and stick to them closely
3) If it is allowable for the lawyer to speak, and it is within your rules to do this, make sure you put that issue at the very end of the meeting. Might as well let the shark make his boat payment with his billable hours, sitting in a meeting listening to a discussion on grass height, budgets, etc.. Heck, talk slowly if you can, and take frequent breaks.
4) Check your by laws and CC&R's carefully, and see: is it a violation of the rules to have a barking dog? If not, then the HOA has no business getting into the middle of a neighbor v neighbor dispute. The owners should deal with it themselves, or use the courts, etc.. Not everything one person wants a board to do is the board actually required to do. (In our HOA, folks used to complain about "loud parties" to the board. I stopped that when i pointed out our rules have nothing in them about noise/parties etc. that we agreed to, or that we can enforce. The CITY does, and i encouraged them to call the city, not me, the next time.)

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