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Ask The HOA Expert

Written by on Tuesday, 08 May 2012 7:00 pm

Question: When a developer turns over the homeowners association to the owners, can the new board then enforce rules that were not enforced previously? For example, I erected a shed that has a county permit and was never challenged by the developer controlled board. Now I fear that the new board may try to force removal of the shed.

Answer: It's common for developers to turn a blind eye to violations and, yes, the new board does have the right to enforce the rules after turnover. You can make the argument based on the time that has elapsed but unless you can show that you had permission in the first place, your construction is not defensible. In fact, you apparently knew it wasn't permitted when you did it.

If you can convince the current board that the shed is acceptable, more power to you, but allowing your violation would allow a precedent. Unless the board also agrees that sheds like yours are generally acceptable, this is bound to cause ill will with some neighbors now or in the future.

Question: What is the average number or percentage recommended for a quorum? We were estimating about 1/4 or 25% would represent a quorum, could this be a smaller number like 1/5? We are currently having monthly owner meetings to address all the new issues and establish our long term goals. We have had very slim turnouts for these meetings. Our last meeting only 6 of 30 members present and 2 of them were married, so we only had 5 voting members. Most of the owners are not interested in attending the meetings. They just want informed of the decisions and the opportunity to vote on them when applicable. Can it be written into the by-laws that any meeting where the board officers and at least two non-board owners are present, that this would represent a quorum?

Answer: To determine what the meeting quorum requirements are for your HOA, you need to read and understand your governing documents. Quorum requirements are often different for board versus owner meetings and even according to the subject matter. Some bylaw changes may require 100% owner approval while others a simple majority or less. HOAs typically have several board meetings (usually four or more) and one owner meeting per year. Once the owners elect a board, the board holds board meetings and takes care of business. The owners meet once a year to elect new directors as their terms expire and to discuss business that requires owner vote (like amending the bylaws and possibly approving a special assessment).

Question: There are two components to management of our HOA, the outside property management company and the onsite manager who is hired by the board and is an employee of the HOA. The fee for the management company is disclosed in our annual budget. However, the salary paid to the manager is aggregated with other building employees. When we asked the board to disclose the salary paid to the manager, the board refused citing confidentiality and privacy. They have repeatedly refused to disclose the costs of the manager and have no standards of performance.

Answer: The board should not withhold onsite manager salary information unless they are currently shopping for one and don't want to risk compromising negotiations. Otherwise, the owners have the right to know how their money is being spent.

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  About the author, Richard Thompson

Individual news stories are based upon the opinions of the writer and does not reflect the opinion of Realty Times.