Category Archives: Board

HOA Turns Off Water on 5-Day Delinquent Owner

B.A. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I’m wondering if our Property Management really has a right to authorize disconnection of water in my unit due to unpaid HOA dues (only 5 days overdue to be exact) even if I don’t have an outstanding balance from my water provider. I can say that this is the first time that my HOA dues was paid late because I’ve been paying my dues always 1 year in advance. Hoping for your advice. Thanks

Mister Condo replies:

B.A., I am sorry that your HOA took such a drastic measure as turning off your access to water after you were only 5 days overdue with your payment after having a great track record for so many years. The reality is that every association has its own policies for such things and it would appear that yours is quite strict. As to whether or not they had the right to do so is a legal question best posed to an attorney in your area. My guess is that they tool lawful action and that you aren’t the only unit owner who has had this happen. You can always make a quick call to an attorney to confirm if your rights were abused. Other than that, my advice is to set up auto-payment or prepay as you have done in the past. Common fees are the lifeblood of any association. The association is right to do all that they can to assure they are paid in timely fashion by all unit owners. All the best!

Condo Board Issuing Fines without Hearings

A.F. from Hartford County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Can a board fine a unit owner without a hearing?

Mister Condo replies:

A.F., typically, the Board cannot simply fine a unit owner without due process which typically involves a written notice of violation and a summons to appear before the Board to explain the reasons for the violation. After hearing the unit owner’s rebuttal or explanation, the Board is then free to take whatever disciplinary action that is called for in the governance documents, which is typically a fine. There are rare exceptions but the Common Interest Ownership Act (CIOA) does give unit owners very specific rights that many times supersede the association’s own governance documents. If you fell the Board is improperly doling out fines, ask them if they are following the state’s laws in doing so. If not, they should change their ways or risk being sued by a homeowner who will claim they had their rights violated. All the best!

Previous Condo Owner Used Unapproved Paint Colors for Windows and Doors

A.L. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I recently purchased a condo and the board sent me a letter asking me to paint some windows on my unit as they are not the right color. The windows are the same color they were when I purchased the unit. There is nothing in the condo docs that state what color windows and doors are supposed to be. Can I be held responsible for correcting the previous owners mistake. These windows are not new so who knows how long they have been this way. The board says they didn’t go after the previous owner because they weren’t looking at all the window colors until a recent walkthrough of the property.

Mister Condo replies:

A.L., typically, the Board can enforce architectural compliance guidelines for units within the association, regardless of when the guideline was violated. There are times when owners have challenged the guidelines or the timeframe in which the violation was caught but those are the exception and not the rule. Is it going to be very expensive to paint the windows and doors? Chances are that bringing your unit into compliance will cost far less than fighting the complaint and you’ll have fresh paint on these items that will help make them more appealing and enjoyable for you. You can fight it if you wish but my recommendation is to go ahead and have the painting done. All the best!

Condo Rental Cap Requires a By-Law Change

L.R. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

What is the amount of votes needed to change a bylaw? We are considering making a cap on rentals in our complex as absentee landlords are renting to multi-family groups (against our bylaws).

Mister Condo replies:

L.R., I am sorry that you have unit owners in your association who are renting to ineligible renters. Rather than change your by-laws which can be challenging at best, why not just go after the landlords who are breaking the existing rules? Get in touch with your association attorney and let him or her know you have a problem and ask for legal help in remedying the behavior. Typically, notice is sent to the offender asking them to come for a hearing before the Board. Then it is possible to fine and/or sue the landlord. Once the unit owner is sued, the sweetness of collecting rent on a unit that is racking up debt and legal expenses tens to remedy the problem.Adding rental caps can be challenging due to the nature of changing such a by-law. You need to review your documents to see what percentage of unit owners need to vote in favor of such a change. Again, speak with your association attorney so you have a full understanding. If you think there are enough votes (typically 2/3 or more, maybe even 100%) you might be able to change the by-laws. Otherwise, I would advise you to use the by-laws you already have and begin enforcing them against the offenders. All the best!

Contractor Requires Condo Board Member’s Presence to Assess Unit Owner’s Damage

S.H. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

The management company asked me to contact a contractor that works most jobs in this condominium in order to make an assessment for damages from a water backup. His reply came and stated that he requested from management company to have a board member present during such assessment. I find it very unusual. I do not believe the bylaws allow for such presence. I am tempted to ask the management to provide cases where a board member was requested to be present in a similar case by this contractor. 


What are my rights in this case? Can I refuse a board member be present lacking precedence? Can I ask for another or more than one contractor do the assessment? What is my best recourse to collect for damages. 

I recently learned that a board member, the president of the board had some water damage and the association paid to replace the kitchen. I need to yet verify this information. How can I use this information to benefit my case? 

Mister Condo replies:

S.H., I am sorry for your water damage problems and further that you appear unhappy with the proposed resolution from your association. Short of suing the association, you really don’t have any “rights” in this case. Typically, water damage to a unit interior is handled by the unit owner’s insurance. The insurance company may have a claim against the association if the damage was caused by willful neglect or intentional damage. I can’t imagine why you should have to contact an association contractor or why a Board Member needs to be present, precedence or not. If the Board wishes to hire a contractor to review your damage, they should make contact and hire the contractor. If the contractor requires a Board Member to be present for whatever reason, I don’t see how or why you would prevent them from assessing your damage and proposing a solution. The unsubstantiated allegations you have made about the Board President’s having similar damage and having the association pay for it is an unrelated matter and should not figure into the solution of your problem at all. My advice is for you to contact your own insurance company and see if you can’t get this matter corrected without involvement from the Board. If the damage continues due to willful neglect on the part of the association, you should hire an attorney and sue. All the best!

Deceased Majority Condo Unit Owner Creates Governance Issues

P.D. from Texas writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

We have 116 townhome units that fall under the Texas HOA Condo law, and 50 of those units were bought out years ago by a gentleman who has since died. His estate is tied up in court and with the IRS because he didn’t have a will (I know RIGHT)? Anyway, for years his ‘property management’ lady that rents and lives on property is always using her 50 votes to tilt outcomes in her favor.  

We are hoping one day if we take it to court and have a judge look at the unequal leverage that one person holds over us that isn’t even a homeowner, we are hoping that could change or that a judge would see it as not a true democracy. 

Wondering if you could give us any advice? We don’t get a full turn out of homeowners because many are elderly on our property, and she single handedly runs the show/votes/outcomes on how she wants it to happen (and even voting HERSELF on the board!) 

Thanks so much for all you do for us in sharing your knowledge 🙂

Mister Condo replies:

P.D., I am sorry that your association finds itself in such a predicament. The “property management lady” you refer to must have some arrangement/authority for the deceased seeing as she is living in one of his units and managing the others. You should look at your by-laws and even state law on the number of votes any one single unit owner can cast. Some limit to a percentage (15% of total votes cast, for instance), others limit to a set number of votes. If that is the case, you can simply impose those limits on here the next time there is a vote. The reality is that you have a single unit owner who owns almost half of all of the units. I would not personally wish to live in a condo with that kind of single ownership ratio because, as you can see, this can create exactly the kind of problems you are dealing with. What if all 50 units stopped paying common fees? What if the association had to take adverse possession (foreclosure action) against the deceased’s estate? The legal fees and glut of units could create a hardship for the other unit owners. You should really be thankful that the association doesn’t have far larger problems than what you have described.My advice is to speak with a locally qualified attorney who specializes in community association law. You can find a list of such attorneys by clicking on https://www.caionline.org/Chapters/Pages/Chapter-Listing.aspx#TXand finding the CAI Chapter that services your part of Texas. Austin, Dallas/Fort Wort, Greater Houston, and San Antonio all feature many qualified attorneys who can guide your association through the proper steps to regain control of your association.Keep in mind that there may be little the association can do. After all, even though he is deceased, his estate still controls 50 of the 116 units in your association. The right to vote is part of what you purchase when you buy a condominium. You are a shareholder in a corporation and you most certainly have a right to vote. I wouldn’t easily give up my right any easier than you would. Good luck!

HOA Requires City Resident Parking Permits for Parking Passes

C.S. from Massachusetts writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I am an owner of my condominium with an onsite parking lot. I have two parking spaces on my unit deed. Due to recent parking issues the HOA sent out a letter stating in order to receive our new parking pass for our parking lot we must obtain a city resident parking permit prior to any passes being issues. Is this something an HOA can require?

Mister Condo replies:

C.S., I don’t see why not. You are a resident of the city and assuming unit owners are paying taxes to the municipality in return for their parking permit, it isn’t too far of a jump for the association to use the city’s parking permit for verification for their own parking pass issuance. If a unit owner were denied a parking pass for a deeded space based solely on refusal to produce a city parking permit, I could see where the rule could be challenged but it would take time, effort, and a lawsuit to do so. My guess is that it is just easier to comply with the HOA’s request. Good luck! 

Condo Board Changes Dog Ownership Rules or Did They?

D.C. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our Declaration of bylaws states household pets, dogs, cats, birds are welcomed. Our rules & regulations that were written and passed by the board and not by owner has banned dogs. Which ruling is correct? We recently found out the board keeps two versions of the bylaws on hand and distributes a version without the page that includes the portion that dogs are welcomed to new owners. Do I need to hire a lawyer or can I just tell the board I’m getting a dog? Can board members who have intentionally hid bylaws be banned from being on the board.

Mister Condo replies:

D.C., I am sorry that your Board is practicing deceptive communications. You will most definitely need to hire an attorney to challenge the by-laws if you decide to get a dog. The Board can be sued for not issuing updated condo documents to new owners but that isn’t likely to help your case. The original declaration and by-laws will work to your advantage but that isn’t to say the by-laws have not been legally modified since then. The Board would need to show that the rule was legally adopted and the by-laws modified. They would also have to explain why the proper by-laws are not being provided to new owners. What often happens is the Board thinks they have modified the by-laws but have not, in fact, taken all of the required steps, which nullifies their actions. Your attorney can guide you through the process if it comes to that. Good luck!

Condo Unit Owner Claims Negligence as Reason for Not Paying Assessment

V.M. from Middlesex County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

If I do not pay an assessment because of negligence by the trustees do I lose my rights as a unit owner?

Mister Condo replies:

V.M., regardless of what the reason for not paying an assessment, the association will very likely take collections action against you, up to and including foreclosing on your home. You do not fight a claim of negligence by withholding fees or assessments because the association has a legal duty to collect those funds from you and from all unit owners. You have rights as well and challenging the Board with a claim of negligence is done with a lawsuit initiated by you against the association. The only thing withholding fees or assessments will accomplish is legal fees and possible loss of your condo through foreclosure. That is not a good strategy, in my opinion. All the best!

Condo Parking Lot Design Blocks Walkway Access

S.A. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

My condo has unassigned parking with a “two space” limit, first come-first serve. The issue is that spaces are directly in front of my walkway. Vehicles completely block it. During normal weather I can use the grassy area to go around. During winter when snow is piled high and I have to squeeze between vehicles and there would be no way for a quick medical extradition if needed. I have requested adjustment numerous times without any solution. I even drew a schematic with an easy solution. I also have a 20% disability to my right leg. Is this a legal parking spot? Thank you

Mister Condo replies:

S.A., unless the local building code calls for something else, these parking spots. Are under direct control of the board to use as they see fit. You would think that they would want to keep a path clear for unit owners and first responders but I am not aware of any law requiring them to do so. This parking condition has likely existed since the condo was built so it is not a new condition. Keep speaking common sense to the Board. Perhaps they will agree with you and act. If you feel your disability entitles you to more than the Board is willing to do, you might want to speak with an attorney to see if you can sue them and force them to act. Other than that, I think you are stuck with the parking situation as it is. Good luck!