Tag Archives: Board

What is Adequate Meeting Notice for an HOA?

B.H. from Hartford County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

How much time should an HOA give residents that a meeting is scheduled?

Mister Condo replies:

B.H., HOAs should give as much notice as possible to owners before a meeting takes place. Some governing documents spell it out specifically; some just say adequate notice. The Common Interest Ownership Act spells it out as 5 business days (one week) which would be the minimum for those associations that need to be compliant with the CIOA law in Connecticut. The bottom line is that the HOA must give fair and adequate notice to all unit owners lest they wish to have an owner claim they received inadequate notice which could nullify any actions taken by the Board at an improperly noticed meeting. Hope that helps.

Board Wishes to Grant Exclusive Use of Handicapped Parking Space to Unit Owner

D.B. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

The association installed a handicapped spot per owner’s request. He is upset since visitors are occasionally parking in it. Can we put the unit number on it?

Mister Condo replies:

D.B., the association is free to enforce the handicapped parking spaces in their association-owned parking lots as they see fit. If non-handicapped cars are parking in handicapped spaces, they can be towed at owner expense, especially if there are signs indicating that non-handicapped cars will be towed from handicapped designated spaces. However, just because there is a handicapped space that was set up by the Board at an owner’s request, that doesn’t make the spot his. Other handicapped unit owners (and/or guests depending on the parking policy) with properly marked handicapped placards may also use the space. Generally speaking, it is “first come/first served”. However, if the Board wishes to designate a space for the specific use of one resident, it could try. However, don’t be surprised of other unit owners balk at the idea. After all, if everyone else is fighting for the limited spaces available at the association, they would be right to call foul for any single unit owner getting special treatment. Shared association parking is at a premium; the Board has a duty to protect the rights of all unit owners to use the amenity. All the best!

New Condo Owner Needs to Remove Handicapped Parking Designation from Deeded Space

M.F. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

We are looking to buy a condo. It comes with two deeded spaces. However, one of the spaces has a handicapped designation. Will we be free to use the spaces (as we would be the owners) despite the designation? 

Mister Condo replies:

M.F., congratulations on the new condo! You should check with either the management company or the Board of the condo before you purchase just to make sure that the two deeded spaces are yours and not owned by the association. It is unusual for a unit owner to get a private space designated as handicapped. What would be the reason? The unit owner already has exclusive use of the space, handicapped or not. It is possible that this unit owner decided to designate one of his deeded spaces as handicapped for a personal reason or that the Board actually designated the space as handicapped at his request. You do need an actual answer before you simply assume that this is one of your deeded spaces. As long as you actually own the space, there should be no issue with you removing the handicapped designation or using it as you see fit. Good luck!

Condo Staff to Unit Owner Ratio

S.B. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Is there a staff ratio per condo unit? I live in a 500-unit condo (12 buildings) and want to know how much maintenance staff or cleaning staff is standard per unit. Thanks!

Mister Condo replies:

S.B., the short answer is that there is no staff ration per condo unit other than that negotiated between your Board and Management Company. Even then the staff that works for each entity is generally tasked with performance, not a head count. In other words, if the grounds can be maintained by 10 folks instead of 20, the company responsible will likely only employ 10 people as that makes the most business sense. The same is true for any other function or service provided by contractors for the association. Are you happy with the work that is being done? Then, there are probably enough people doing the work. Are you unsatisfied with the work or services provided? Chances are a few more staff members might do the trick. My advice would be to focus on the outcomes, not the number of staff. If you think services are lacking, you might want to reach out to the Board to see what, if anything can be done. Hiring more staff might just be the solution although it will come at a price. Are you willing to pay more to get more? Are your fellow unit owners also willing to pay? If so, anything can be done. If not, it is what it is. All the best!

Condo Board Refuses to Address Major Safety Concern of Unit Owner

J.J. from Middlesex County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in a townhouse complex of 46 units. There are 7 board members who seem to play favorites and pick and choose who they will and will not respond to. There are 2 basements attached to owner units, where the association actually owns half of the basement and the exterior entrance to each. One of these basements is next to mine, and the cement stairs leading down to it have been collapsing for years with only talks of repairs. Now, because of the poor stability of the cement, the metal railing is no longer stable either. It’s come apart and very wobbly. I have a small child as does the renter that lived in the unit this is attached to. I wrote an email with my concerns asking that the railing be addressed. If a child were to lean on that railing they could absolutely fall in and the drop is high enough I fear it could be fatal. As usual I’ve not gotten any acknowledgement at all that my email was even received. What would be my next step in getting them to address something so dangerous?

Mister Condo replies:

J.J., I am sorry that your Board has allowed this common asset to fall into such disrepair that a child fatality could occur if the element fails. I would say that an email isn’t getting the job done. You mentioned 7 Board Members but no Property Manager. If you have a Property Manager, you should bring it to their attention, if not you need to address the Board in another way that they cannot ignore. Pictures and documentation should do the trick, presented in a letter to the Board (not an email). Send a copy to the local Building Inspector as well and cc: the Board that you have done so. You should also consider attending the next Board meeting (that is your right). Address this concern face to face with the Board. In other words, be a squeaky wheel! If they still don’t respond, you have two choices. Run for the Board yourself or elect better leaders that will address the issue. The other choice is to just accept that the Board is a group of self-serving people who aren’t going to address your issues until there is an injury and a lawsuit. That would be truly unfortunate. Good luck!

Foul Odors From Infirmed Neighbor Ruining Condo Owner’s Life

M.F. from California writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in Glendale, CA. There is a person (‘a room-mate’) as she says who takes care of a bed-bound person. The kitchen curtain is always open which is directly across from my 2nd bedroom and she spends her day outside on the walkway smoking. I have asked her to NOT smoke outside my windows but it seems as if every time I open my door there she is. The board has done nothing and the smell from the unit smells like feces. I am thinking of moving as I cannot take her much longer. Suggestions would be appreciated.

Mister Condo replies:

M.F., you are right to consider moving as the legal solution could take years to implement, if it can even be implemented. I am sorry for your situation and I know many others who feel as you do about foul-smelling odors (second hand cigarette, cigar, pipe, marijuana smoke, feces, spicy cooking, and so on). The reality is that the solution is as simple as the Board enforcing the association’s forbiddance of “Nuisance” as it applies to odors. However, most governing documents are vague on what “nuisance” is so enforcing the nuisance provisions are tricky at best. Have you complained to the Board? Have you claimed that the unit owner is breaking the rules by allowing these foul odors to penetrate your unit? That is your first step. If the Board agrees, they make steps to correct the situation. However, you can’t expect instant results which is why I suggested that you may be correct in thinking of moving instead of waiting for all of this to happen. If the Board acts against the unit owner, they may push back and a lawsuit may ensue. This is expensive for both parties and could take a great deal of time to settle. If it were me and I found the odors as foul as you claim they are, I would sell and move out. There are always better communities to move into where you won’t have to deal with the problems this infirmed unit owner is creating. All the best!

Arbitration Forced Upon Unit Owners While Board Can Choose Other Remedies

C.I. from Hartford County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Is it legal for Condo Assoc. to require owners to go to arbitration with a complaint against the Board, but reserve for itself the right to litigate in court a complaint against an owner?

Mister Condo replies:

C.I., I am not an attorney so I cannot offer you any legal opinions in this column. However, in my non-legal opinion, I don’t see where there would be a problem. Many states require unit owners with complaints against the Board to go to arbitration. The reason for this is simple. There are just too many unit owners that they could easily overwhelm the courts with matters that are far easier to settle in arbitration. Complaints from the Board are far fewer and are generally not the type of complaint that arbitration would assist. When Boards take legal action against a unit owner, it is usually over financial matters (unpaid common fees or Special Assessments). These aren’t items for arbitration; they are simply the Board enforcing the covenants and collecting the monies that are owed to the Association. For a proper legal opinion, you should consult with an attorney but I hope this friendly response helps you understand the situation. All the best!

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!