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New HOA president acting like ‘Lone Ranger’

Q: I read your column faithfully. Would it be possible for you to write about how easily board members can turn into ogres?

We have a president that started out good but now would put the one on that new Geico commercial to shame. Sneaks around tagging cars and looking for anything she can issue a violation for. Most without warnings. She has hassled several owners to sell just because she doesn’t like them.

A: After the election period, there is an organizational meeting. At this meeting, the officers of an association are elected by the board members. For many associations, this is a very short meeting. Prior to the first scheduled board meeting of the newly elected board, associations should consider holding an educational workshop as to the role, responsibility and authority of the individual board members, as well as the officers. This would be the time period to explain to all of the board members that you work as a unit and not as the Lone Ranger.

In fact, working as the Lone Ranger could result in an unexpected complaint from the Nevada Real Estate Division or a possible lawsuit from a homeowner’s attorney. At this meeting, the board should review its rules and regulations and the violation process as stated in their governing documents as well as in Nevada Revised Statute 116. Boards should have their alleged violations be sent by their community manager. Violations should be based upon specific polices and regulations and not upon an individual board member who is “fishing” to cite homeowners.

Q: Your column concerning the towing of vehicles is of interest to me. I live in a condominium complex in which street parking is prohibited in the bylaws, which are agreed to when purchasing the unit. Each unit has its own garage. Is management able to tow a street-parked vehicle in this case?

A: If the community has private streets and not public streets, yes the association can tow the parked vehicle.

Q: Hello, Barbara. Thank you in advance as to your help with this question. Some family members of mine are considering moving into a two-story condo. The first floor is a garage, and the living areas are all on the second floor. There are 18 outside stairs going straight up from the ground to the front door. One of the family members is in her 80s and handicapped with two previous hip surgeries and would not be able to walk up those stairs. Are there any state or federal laws that say homeowners associations must allow an outside stair chair? (The cost would be covered by us). Any light you can shed on this situation would be very helpful. Thank you!

A: Under the Fair Housing Laws, under the disability section, the association cannot deny the homeowner from installing a chair for their disabled member. The association could require the homeowner to remove the chair and restore the condition of the exterior upon moving and leaving the community. For more information, contact the local U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development office in Las Vegas.

Q: We have a member that wants to put a flagpole in his front yard to display the American flag. It has been common knowledge of his intent to do this within our 20-member HOA. He has said he that it is his right.

He was verbally denied this request, which was made to our Architectural Review Committee. Our single-family residences were designed with a means to display the flag on each home at the time of construction. The member is using threats of suing other HOA members and the association if he is not granted the right to install a flagpole on his property.

His request and threats have become a topic of conversation within our community. Our board has created an Architectural Review Committee made up of four members and it was a tie on the vote of his request. The board then took up the decision and of the three board members, two voted against his request for a flagpole. The only vote on the board to allow the flagpole was from the president of the board.

A letter was created by members in the HOA expressing not wanting flagpoles at each/any residence within the HOA (without mentioning the member who requested it), along with supporting documents from our covenants, conditions and restrictions and NRS 116 regarding displaying the flag. This was sent to each member within the HOA, and a majority of members signed the letter staying they are against allowing flagpoles at residences within the community. This signed letter was sent to the each director of the board.

Questions: Does the president have the sole power to override the decision of the majority of the board and/or the members within an HOA? If the president of the board decides against the wishes of the majority of the board and members what if anything is available to enforce the majority’s decisions?

A: There are two issues. The first, the president does not have the right to override the decision of the majority of the board of directors. In addition, the president does not have the right to override the votes of the homeowners that have been made at a duly called homeowners’ meeting and in accordance with the governing documents as to the voting procedure.

The board could vote to remove that homeowner as president and elect another board member to serve as president. Please note that does not mean that the board can remove the president as a board director.

The second, pertaining to the American flag, NRS 116.320 is very explicit that the association does not have the right to prohibit an owner from displaying the flag of the United States of America within the physical portion that an owner has a right to occupy and use exclusively. The displaying of the American flag is to be consistent with 4 U.S.C. Chapter 1 of the federal government. There are some other restrictions within this statute.

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 holland744o@gmail.com.

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