Tag Archives: HOA

HOA Wants to Sell Parking Space to Home Owner!

H.G. from New London County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Can a homeowners’ association buy little stubs that in the past 50+ years have not been used and simply allowed easy access to parking on either side of two beach property homes and were either owned by no one or owned by the association and force the owner of the home to purchase it ($7k) or risk that someone else will buy it and use for parking between your homes and make parking for us nearly impossible?

Mister Condo replies:

H.G., that is a loaded question if I ever heard one! It is a question that would best be answered by an attorney, which I am not. Who owns the parking spaces? If it is the association, they can very likely handle the access to those spaces however they see fit. Even if they haven’t invoked their right to charge a fee for the past 50+ years as you state, it is still their property. If you own the property, that is a different story. If they are selling you the space for $7,000 and it is then yours to use or sell as you see fit, I would think that is a good investment. Otherwise, as you say, who know who else could buy it and prevent easy parking for you and your guests. Good luck!

HOA Sues Owner for Trying to Rescue a Stray Cat

J.H. from Michigan writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

My neighbor accused me of feeding a feral cat. HOA is taking me to court. I was not feeding a feral cat! This female cat was tame, but pregnant. I was feeding the cat in order to catch her. If I had not, there would now be 3 females pregnant by the 2 tomcats roaming the condo complex. I did these people a favor! I bought the food, sat outside with the woman from a rescue organization and caught the mother and two kittens. Can a HOA have ordinances to override the County, City and State laws?

Mister Condo replies:

J.H., I salute your efforts to help but I hope you can understand how dangerous feeding any wild animals can be and the potential risk it puts on the HOA. Your neighbor had no way of knowing what you were up to and reported the behavior to the Board, who took the appropriate action for your rules and by-laws. I cannot imagine that any of their rules override local laws and the answer to that question is “no”, they cannot have rules that conflict with local ordinances. I have to believe that the correct solution to this problem would have been for you to report the stray but tame cat to the association and let them take whatever steps they deem appropriate to remedy the situation. After all, this wasn’t your cat. The person from the rescue organization would have been their likely contact and the same end result could have been achieved without your personal involvement in rescuing the animal. I am sure you meant well and I am guessing you are an animal lover, which I certainly admire. However, in most HOAs, feeding stray or ferial animals, regardless of your intention or their tameness, is prohibited due to the risk of pestilence and/or animal attacks on residents. All the best!

HOA Bills Unit Owner for Repair Team’s Lack of Unit Access

J.C. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

The unit above me leaked into my garage. The owner happens to be on the Board of Directors. He is having the HOA pay for it. Now, I got a bill from HOA that my tenant was not home for them to do the work.

Mister Condo replies:

J.C., well this is certainly a series of unfortunate events. I am sorry for your troubles. Typically, the association carries insurance for damage caused by your fellow unit owners. The fact that this unit owner serves on the Board of Directors is irrelevant unless you are alleging wrongdoing on the part of the Director. From what you have told me, I do not see any wrongdoing here. The Director is also a unit owner and protected by the same association insurance that you are. The HOA dispatched a repair operation to your unit, which is what they are supposed to do. Was their communication between the HOA, the repair firm, and you or your tenant? If so, and your tenant agreed to be home when the repair team was dispatched yet failed to be there, I can see where the HOA would assess a fee to you for the cost of the repair team not being allowed access to your unit. If there was no communication that a repair team was coming and they are still charging you, I would challenge that fee and maybe even speak to an attorney about the fee to see if it is something you could sue over. Chances are the amount in question is too small to sue over. The bottom line is that you want the repairs to your unit made so work with your HOA to make sure that happens. If your tenant can’t be there, you may have to be there yourself to make sure the repair team has access. All the best!

Homeschooling Condo Unit Owner Seeks to Add Garage Window

A.R. from California writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I want to add a window in the garage because I homeschool my kids and is too hot inside for them.

Mister Condo replies:

A.R., I appreciate your desire to provide a window for your children as you feel it would help cool your garage, which I gather you are using as a classroom for homeschooling purposes. However, adding items like windows falls squarely under the governance authority of the Board who has to consider the architectural compliance issues that allowing you to do so may create. If you are allowed to add a window to a garage, theoretically all unit owners who asked for the same modification would have to be allowed. That creates a potential nightmare for the Board, who has a duty to keep the community looking in a uniform fashion. You can certainly ask but please respect the decision of the Board in this matter. It isn’t as simple granting your request to assist with your homeschooling efforts; the decision has far-reaching consequences. All the best!

Denver Condo Owner Getting a Snow Job from the Association!

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K.A. from Denver, Colorado writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Hello! My HOA piles all the snow from our parking lot directly behind my parking spot making my spot unusable until it melts, which can be 2 days or 2 weeks, depending on how much it has snowed and the temperature. My spot is deeded and I own that spot. They have said there is nowhere else to put the snow. I disagree; there are options but just not as convenient. My dad owned the unit since 1981 and rented most of them time for a very small amount so the tenant who lived there about 20 years just dealt with it and never brought it to his attention as her rent was VERY low. I only became aware after I bought the unit from his estate after he passed away. Parking on the street is very difficult after about 7pm as I live in a dense urban area so it can take a while to find a spot and it’s not very close at times. We have a company that we pay to deal with HOA issues and the man who does our building acts like I just need to deal with it. My question is, do I have ANY legal recourse??? To me it seems to be a right of way issue- like if I had a driveway and some blocked it. Any info or advice would be greatly appreciated!!

Mister Condo replies:

K.A., thank you for your letter and I think you have already answered your own question. Yes, you have legal recourse against the association for taking over your deeded space with their excess snow. Yes, it will cost them more to remove the snow in proper fashion but neither of those problems are yours. Speak with an attorney, threaten the association with a lawsuit, and, if they don’t change their ways, sue them! They will need to modify their snow removal arrangements to make sure your space is as free of snow as everyone else’s space. The extra cost of snow removal may cause a need for extra money in the snow removal budget but that expense is shared by all unit owners, not just you. Please keep in mind that I am not an attorney nor am I an expert is Colorado community association law so please speak with a qualified local attorney at your earliest convenience for a proper legal opinion. Good luck!

Community Manager Test Specifics

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J.B. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

When and Where is the next state test to become a community manager?

Mister Condo replies:

J.B., that is a great question! You can always get up to the minute information at the CAI-CT website at caict.org and, in particular, on the Manager Licensure page at http://www.caict.org/?page=ManagerLicensure. You will find a link there to the Frequently Asked Questions about Community Association Manager Licensing at the State of Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection website (the state’s DCP oversees Community Association Manager licensing in our state) – http://www.ct.gov/dcp/cwp/view.asp?a=1629&Q=521982 Everything you need to know is there. I will say that there is not a scheduled time for a particular test and that many applicants simply take an online or onsite computer driven test for the testing portion of the licensure. It all starts with completing the coursework from CAI to become a community manager. Once completed, there are several testing options available to you, including a pen and paper test if there is enough demand for one. Traditionally, these have happened in March and September but there is no formal scheduled event for me to direct you to. Good luck fulfilling the requirements and passing the test!

HOA Board Assigning Parking Spaces

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T.S. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

We have 14 units and 28 parking spaces. The HOA is currently talking about assigning one parking space per unit. Is this a good idea?

Mister Condo replies:

T.S., management of common resources and elements like the parking lot is the purview of the Board. 14 units and 28 parking spaces is a fine ratio assuming all unit owners use one space for a personal vehicle and leave the other space for guest parking. However, what happens when one unit has more than two cars parked on the property? What if a unit owner had no available parking for their own vehicle or guest because another unit owner occupied available parking spaces? These problems become the problem of the Board so I think it is wise of them to address the issue before it becomes a problem and before bad habits set in. If you follow my column on a regular basis, you will see that I field an awful lot of parking-related issues. Assigning parking spaces is likely a good idea and will create a better sense of parking rules for residents. Good luck!

Does the HOA Have a Say in Who I Hire for My Own Basement Repair?

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B.R. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Can a condo HOA force me to use their maintenance person as a contractor to repair something inside my own unit? I have a problem in the basement with moisture on the wall. It is not clear whether it is coming from my unit, another unit, or a common element. It’s not a very big spot, but I am concerned that it be repaired correctly and safely as to not create a bigger problem. I’d prefer to hire a licensed contractor that I trust to investigate the problem. The HOA keeps acting like they can tell me I can’t do this or that I need some sort of approval unless I use their person. It is my understanding that as long as my investigation/repair doesn’t involve something clearly indicated as a common element, they really have no say in this? Am I mistaken?

Mister Condo replies:

B.R., determining who has ownership of the basement and all of the components that go into a basement within an HOA can be challenging. Does your basement abut to a neighbor’s basement where you share a wall? Do common utilities run through your basement? Do you have a sump pump that dries more than your unit? Depending on the nature of the work being done, it is possible that the HOA does not have a say other than to require you to provide a license and proof of insurance for the contractor before work begins. Sometimes, it is just simpler to use their preferred contractor because the contractor has inside knowledge of how the buildings were built and how they run best. Your water spot may be something their contractor has seen a dozen times and knows what the likely culprit and remedy are. In that case, they HOA may actually be doing you a favor by having you use their contractor. One final caveat is to review your HOA governance documents. It should spell out when you need to use an association-approved contractor. My final piece of advice is just practical. If this is not a very big spot and likely a small repair, if any, why not just go with the HOA’s suggested contractor? I can’t imagine this is going to be a very big deal one way or the other. Hope it all works out for you.

Can HOA Meeting Minutes Be Posted to the Web and Not Mailed to Owners?

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M.G. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Do the HOA minutes have to be sent to all owners or can they be put on the web page?

Mister Condo replies:

M.G., that completely depends on state and local law as well as your governing documents, with the former superseding the latter. Most modern HOAs allow for emailing or web posting of community association documents. However, almost all also offer an opt-in option for unit owners. Mail is the gold standard for communication but many folks would rather read it online than have a hard copy sent to them. You certainly have a right to review the Minutes of the Board meeting and you should be able to request copies as you wish. There may be a fee for doing so as there may be a cost of preparing a written copy and the cost of postage but you should be able to make the request of either your management company or your Board. Good luck!

HOA Board Governing but Not by The Rules!

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D.C. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

There are 29 homes in my HOA. The board refuses to get training and dictates policy based on their judgement. They have dictated that we have to clear the snow from sidewalks in front of our lot. My lot front has a 10 foot set back. Shouldn’t all sidewalks be labeled common areas and therefore cleared along with the sidewalks in front of open spaces which are undeveloped? The board has failed to operate using the CT state statutes updated in July 2010. Members to the board were elected by show of hands. That allowed TWO votes per household instead of ONE / household. Robert Rules of order were not use!!! What can I do to get the board to comply with the CT Statutes? I placed my common fee in escrow and am being sued. Many Thanks

Mister Condo replies:

D.C., I am sorry for your problems. As you have seen, placing your common fees in escrow is not a good idea and you should not continue that practice as you can not only be sued but even foreclosed upon for continued nonpayment of common fees. Let’s talk about a better approach.

Your HOA has governing documents as part of the establishment of the HOA. I assume you have a copy of these documents and have ready them thoroughly so you have a starting point to explain your points to the Board. While there are no requirements that your Board receive training, there are requirement, under the law, that they observe the HOA’s governance documents and that they abide by any state and federal laws that may supersede those documents, such as the Common Interest Ownership Act (CIOA), to which you have referred.

I am not an attorney so please accept my advice as friendly and not legal. Your Board needs a bit of a wake-up call if they are not following proper governance. They must abide by the HOA’s governance documents. If that calls for one vote per home in the HOA then that is how the votes should be held. If snow removal is defined in the governance documents, then they should follow the proper procedures for snow removal. They can dispense with Roberts Rules of Order at any meeting but they must first hold a vote to do so. In very much the same way the Board has sued you for nonpayment of common fees, you may need to sue them for not keeping the covenants as outlined in the governance documents. For that, you will most likely need an attorney, which will cost you money, but will get the Board behaving in better form in short order. You may also wish to speak with other homeowners in the HOA about running for office. The folks that serve on your Board are elected volunteers. If they aren’t getting the job done, it may be time for some better volunteers. Good luck!