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Ask the HOA Expert

Written by on Tuesday, 10 January 2006 6:00 pm
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Question: Our HOA has a resident that interferes with vendors. Our landscaper has threatened to quit due to the harassment. The resident has been advised in writing to cease and desist but it continues. Suggestions?

Answer: It's not uncommon for certain residents to engage contractors in conversation, usually trying to be sociable or helpful. This is particularly true of landscape contractors. Most landscapers know this and should be instructed not to respond or instruct the resident to "talk to the Board."

If this has been done without success, I suggest someone on the Board meet with this person and discuss the reasons for his interference. Some of his concerns may be legitimate. If so, address them in writing with the landscaper and send the owner a copy of the letter. But if the interference is unjustified and just meddling, other tactics need to be used.

Try one more letter stating that the previous courtesy letter has been ignored so the landscaper will bill for additional time in dealing with him if he continues to slow them down. Add that if the HOA is billed, he will be charged for it. Then, ask the landscaper to monitor the situation and to journal when interference happens. If it does, ask him to submit a bill to the HOA for the time at his normal rate. Bill the owner. This usually stops the meddling. If not, have the landscaper submit another bill and charge him again. Make sure to enforce collection if it goes unpaid. Some folks can be pretty stubborn but most come around.

Question: Our townhomes each have a rear deck. Two adjacent owners submitted a request to add a brick patio in between their two decks. Besides the fact that there is a utility easement (buried cable) where they want to install the bricks, it seems inappropriate to allow this installation since future owners might not be so neighborly. Thoughts?

Answer: This was probably a cost sharing scheme to develop additional patio space for half the cost. There are several approaches to responding to the request. If the expansion area is common area, the Board has no authority to permit individual owners using it for private space. Case closed. If the space is limited common area, the utility line easement access would be compromised. Case closed. Your observation about how this would impact future owners of this property is also valid. Again, case closed.

Question: I recently ran for and got elected to the board. I was reading the bylaws and it occurred to me that we didn't have a quorum so the election was illegal. I did further research and discovered that we've never had a quorum in the three years that the HOA was turned over from the developer. I'm concerned that since none of the board members were legally elected, their acts have not been legal either. I believe all the liens, contracts and other approved actions should be redone. Our property manager believes I'm overreacting, stating that most of the annual meetings she coordinates lack a quorum for elections. Am I making too much of this?

Answer: Your concerns about the quorum are valid. While it's true that many owners don't choose to attend the annual meeting, using apathy as the reason to run roughshod over quorum requirements is a lame excuse. The Board is responsible for proper and advance promotion of the annual meeting. There are a number of ways to attract greater numbers and accomplish a quorum. Holding a potluck following the meeting often attracts greater numbers and ensures the meeting doesn't drag on.

One essential component of holding an annual meeting is issuing proxies to all members. A proxy is a form which authorizes another person to act on behalf of the proxy giver. All owners should complete and return one before the meeting to guarantee a quorum. Any member that attends the meeting merely collects their proxy and votes as usual. This way, there is no excuse for lack of quorum.

Your concern about redoing past Board actions is unrealistic and would be a nightmare to accomplish. Opening up this Pandora's Box would allow challenge to anything and everything the Board has done. While it's possible a member may raise the issue to justify violating some policy or rule, it's unlikely. It's better to let sleeping dogs lie and strictly adhere to proper quorum requirements in the future.

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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.
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