Search

“donie vanitzian”
An HOA needs an attorney retainer agreement, but a good one requires negotiation
Question: Every year, the board automatically renews the association attorney’s retainer agreement and deposit. Without reading it the directors sign and send him a check for $60,000. This year, I spoke up and told my fellow board members that we should not make the deposit and not sign the agreement...
Managers can prepare HOA budgets but the buck stops with the board
QUESTION: My neighbor, who’s a board member, recently handed me a copy of a solicitation letter from an HOA trade group given to him at a management conference. The letter encourages managers responsible for drafting association operating budgets to include donations to the group as an “incidental”...
Managers can't make up HOA election procedures on the fly
Question: Our bylaws require an election committee created by the board to supervise elections and create rules to ensure they are fair. That includes the nominating process and voting procedures since our bylaws and covenants, conditions and restrictions are silent on the specifics. However, it...
Board meetings are the chance for owners to express grievances and directors should hear them out
QUESTION: Our homeowners association board constantly discusses issues at meetings that are not on the agenda or not included in the notice of meeting distributed to owners. But if an owner who attends the meeting tries to speak about issues that are not on the agenda, the board just shuts them...
When it comes to noisy neighbors, it's the board's responsibility to enforce association rules
When it comes to noisy neighbors, it's the board's responsibility to enforce association rules
Question: I’ve owned and lived in my very small Los Angeles condo complex for 16 years and am president of the association. Many of my neighbors are established professionals, including a couple of financial advisors across the hall. They have lived in the building for more than 40 years and have...
Association boards should not wait for legislation before inspecting and repairing deteriorating balconies
Association boards should not wait for legislation before inspecting and repairing deteriorating balconies
Question: I own a condo in Orange County that has a second-floor balcony. For two years I’ve complained to management and the board that my balcony is drooping and is unsafe to use but they just ignore me. My neighbor in the building next door also complains that the stairwell to her unit wobbles...
Here's why closing the sale of a condo has suddenly become harder for an association
Here's why closing the sale of a condo has suddenly become harder for an association
Question: I’ve been the treasurer of our 30-unit self-managed condominium association for more than 20 years and until recently the handling of buyer and refinance escrows and other paperwork for property transactions was a breeze. This year, though, mortgage lenders started asking for a fidelity...
Making an insurance claim can be far superior to initiating internal HOA litigation
Making an insurance claim can be far superior to initiating internal HOA litigation
Question: I am a board director for a large association that is plagued with major plumbing leaks, bursting pipes and pressure regulation problems. About three years ago, one of the upper units had a sink supply-line burst, resulting in water damage to that unit and the one below, which happened...
Charging interest on interest on past-due HOA accounts is a no-no
Charging interest on interest on past-due HOA accounts is a no-no
QUESTION: Around eight years ago, the HOA filed a lien on my property because I fell behind on my association dues. After 11 months, I finally paid off the outstanding dues. I also paid the lien filing fees and interest at the same time. Unbeknownst to me, there was a small balance of interest...
Buying into a homeowners association is a lot more complicated than just making an offer on a property
Buying into a homeowners association is a lot more complicated than just making an offer on a property
QUESTION: We recently acquired a condo, but even with a 60-day escrow, we felt the purchase process was too fast. We wanted to take our time to read and review everything before signing, but that didn’t happen. The seller imposed time restrictions on all of our replies and if we did not respond...
Establishing an email trail for HOA litigation isn't as easy as it seems
Establishing an email trail for HOA litigation isn't as easy as it seems
QUESTION: For two years I tried to get an electrical problem fixed in my condo. Though my emails were mostly ignored, I made a point of writing the association manager and board directors weekly, sometimes emailing them several times a day. The manager even told me she was sick of getting my emails....
There are established safeguards that can help ensure a board election is fair
There are established safeguards that can help ensure a board election is fair
Question: We are about to have another board election at our homeowner association, and I am concerned about tales I hear about rigged elections at other associations. The gist of these stories is that a corrupt manager colludes with complicit board members to control elections and dissuade newcomers...
A board needs time, smarts and a strategy to wisely choose a new management company
A board needs time, smarts and a strategy to wisely choose a new management company
QUESTION: Our association has hired and fired so many management companies that we’ve lost count and, as a board director, I am exasperated with the situation. Most companies made it very difficult to reach them by phone and it was worse actually trying to talk to a live person. The company owners...
Homeowners find it not so pleasant when their street is 'discovered' by professional dog walkers
Homeowners find it not so pleasant when their street is 'discovered' by professional dog walkers
QUESTION: Our common-interest development is in the middle of a busy area in Los Angeles but still off the beaten path. It faces a public street that the city maintains along with street lighting and sidewalks. Five years ago, our area was discovered by dog-walking services. We know they are paid...
It's not a waste of money to have an attorney review an HOA management contract
It's not a waste of money to have an attorney review an HOA management contract
QUESTION: Our new board directors recently terminated the old management company. As treasurer, I cautioned other directors that this time we need to be more careful in hiring a replacement. We received 13 proposals and took our time, over a month, thoroughly interviewing each company and their...
Freedom of speech doesn't end once you enter a homeowner association
Freedom of speech doesn't end once you enter a homeowner association
Question: I live in a common interest development with a homeowner association board that aggressively stifles residents’ freedom of speech. During association elections, the board makes ample use of newsletters, meetings and minutes, association media, the recreation room and other channels to...
It's hard to believe but a condo could be lost to squatters
It's hard to believe but a condo could be lost to squatters
Question: About 17 years ago I inherited my father’s mortgage-free town house in Southern California. I made the five-hour round-trip drive from my home to the townhouse to pick up mail and pay the leftover bills. As the mail and bills eventually stopped there was no need for me to continue making...
Just because a buyer has a criminal record doesn't mean your HOA can bar them
Just because a buyer has a criminal record doesn't mean your HOA can bar them
Question: Over the past decade, our association has suffered from increased criminal activity. Some residents have criminal records, and although there is no evidence that these residents are committing any crimes, the board wants to make a rule that owners cannot rent or sell their homes to criminals....
Even homeowner associations are targets of hackers looking to profit off cybercrime
Even homeowner associations are targets of hackers looking to profit off cybercrime
Question: Our HOA’s website, which was created and controlled by the management company, houses a treasure trove of documents and information pertaining to our association and its members. The website has been hacked, causing embarrassing and confidential information to be leaked and destroying...
When voting on HOA issues, there's no room on the ballot for a straw poll
When voting on HOA issues, there's no room on the ballot for a straw poll
Question: Owners are getting some strange correspondence from our management company that appears prompted by some homeowners renting out their units on the Airbnb platform. One letter, for example, claimed that “rental units lower our property values.” The company also sent “straw polls” asking...
1 234567891011
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
59°