October 18, 2020 - 10:29 am
Q: I read your column every week. It is very informative.
Our homeowners association board has been cited by the state twice in the past couple of years.
Once for trespassing on property that the board had no easements to be on (a total of 10 different properties). This complaint was started by myself and the board had to comply. Of course, we had to threaten police action before anything was acknowledged. They simply ignored registered mail. And, truthfully, the state was no help at all.
The second citation was for the board, specifically one board member, who was caught fabricating and altering HOA documents. This one board member has caused many other board members to quit the board for this and many other issues. We have a hard time getting anyone on the board.
I have a complete mailing list for this HOA and the master HOA. My question is do I have the right to inform the residents what is going on?
This HOA has had three different management companies in the past five years. What the residents don’t know is that the past management companies have quit us. They gave up our business. One of the management companies quit to avoid getting involved with the fraudulent documents. This, from the owner of the management company. There is no telling how long this has been going on.
Most of our HOA meetings end up in screaming and name-calling. One problem is the meetings are so sparsely attended.
I have asked them to put some of this information in the bi-monthly newsletters. Ha.
I intend to produce my own newsletter and send it out to all homeowners.
What say you?
A: Be careful. You do not want to be accused of making libelous statements. If you decide to start a newsletter, make sure that it specifically states that the publication is from you and holds your opinions. It should not give the impression that the newsletter is an official one from the association.
I would ask you what is your goal. What is it that you want to accomplish? Based on your letter to me, you want to really make a change; make a difference with the governing of your association. Your newsletter should focus on encouraging homeowners to consider running for the board.
Q: We live in a condo with an HOA. We submitted a plan to the Architectural Review Committee to place surveillance cameras on our patio to face out toward our car in the parking lot.
The committee responded by saying: “After talking with the board, they can only approve if the cameras only cover your individual condo entrances. The placement of the cameras look to be aimed at the community; the cameras cannot surveil the common areas. You may film your patio or front door but not the common view area.”
My question is can the board refuse to allow the cameras? And, if there is an issue, such as our vehicle is broken into or damaged or we are assaulted getting out of our car, would the board members be liable for denying basic security measures.
Thank you in advance for your help.
A: This is not an easy question to answer especially since you live in a condominium. There are a couple of issues.
One is the privacy of other homeowners who may claim the camera invades their privacy since the camera is surveilling a section of the common area, i.e., the parking lot.
There is the issue of security: any potential property damage of your vehicle along with your personal security.
Can the association be liable for denying what you have stated as “basic security measures”? The answer will be with the courts once a lawsuit is filed. Issues would be raised. Does the association have a written policy or resolution concerning cameras? Does the association have a major crime problem, how often, how many crimes and what kinds of crimes, property versus personal injury? Has the association addressed its security problems, and if so what actions have the association taken? Should the association have had a security patrol? Does the association have sufficient lighting?
There are definitely court cases, one that has been on the books for about 20 years from the California State Supreme Court in which a homeowner was assaulted after being denied lighting in front of her home. The association lost that case.
Yes, the board could deny your request. You did receive a reason as to the denial and the association gave you an alternative.
Is the board fully protected? The board should review its policies with legal counsel and with their insurance agent. Nothing is 100 percent but at least it is a start.
Barbara Holland is a certified property manager and holds the supervisory community manager certificate with the state of Nevada. She is an author and educator on real estate management. Questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.