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Ask the HOA Expert

Written by on Tuesday, 24 April 2012 7:00 pm

Question: One of the homes in our homeowner association was used as a model home and the irrigation system sprinkles part of the common area. The home sold and the buyer apparently was aware of this and did not have a problem with it. The home has now sold again and the new owner is wanting the HOA to reimburse him for irrigation costs. Is the HOA responsible since this was an agreement between the developer and owner (prior to turn-over)? Does the obligation pass to subsequent owners?

Also the new owner resodded part of this common area without permission and wants the HOA to reimburse him for that as well.

Answer: The developer has no authority to make deals with individual owners regarding common area maintenance or expenses. It’s unusual that the original owner would agree to pay for irrigating common area but the second owner is certainly entitled to reimbursement. The cleanest way to handle this is to install a separate irrigation meter and have the HOA pay the bill directly. The original builder should have installed a separate meter to avoid this obvious problem in the making.

The HOA is under no obligation to reimburse for owner work in the common area and, indeed, the owner has no authority to be doing this in the first place.

Question: The new board is saying that the president, per Robert’s Rules, is not allowed to vote.

Before I retired, I managed over 20 communities and this issue never came up. The president always voted. Do you have any wisdom on this?

Answer: What you describe is a common misconception about voting. The president is allowed to vote just like any director although often doesn't need to unless to break a tie. If the vote is important, it is advisable for the president to cast a vote regardless so that the minutes reflect who voted in favor and who against.

Question: Our HOA rules attempt to enhance the residential character and appearance. For example, our parking rules state that "oversized vehicles must park in area behind the pool". In other words, these vehicles must not park in their driveways or in the street. The board has established that an "oversized vehicle" is one that will not fit in the garage. We have some habitual offenders. For the most part, it has been effective and most folks comply. Are we correct in trying to maintain this standard?

Answer: Rules should be reasonable. If a resident uses an SUV that won't fit in the garage for personal transportation, it is not reasonable to require that resident to park a distance away. Driveways are intended for a resident's and his guests’ use. Having this kind of policy goes too far. There is Sample Parking Policy at in the Policy Samples section.

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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.