Ask The HOA Expert: Parking Rules

Written by Richard Thompson Posted On Thursday, 18 January 2024 00:00

Question: Our parking rules do not allow boats to be parked in driveways. However, some folks need to park their boat for a day or two to clean it before taking it to the lake or storage. Is it reasonable to give permission to residents to park their boats for a short time if they first ask? We have a similar situation with RVs, storage containers and construction dumpsters.

Answer: Rather than trying to micromanage these kinds of things, the board should revise the parking policy to allow parking of boats, storage containers and construction dumpsters for a specified period of time. The neighbors will let the board know if the time limits are being abused.

Question: The board wants all contractors together at the same time to walk the property and discuss the project to be done. Is this an ethical practice or should we meet with each separately?

Answer: It makes a lot of sense to have a joint walk through. It will save time for all concerned, all questions get answered at the same time and all bidders get the same information to craft their bids.

Question: Our board publishes a list of delinquent members each month in the HOA's newsletter. Is this proper?

Answer: Distributing a list of this kind is a very bad idea. It's akin to the humiliation of the stocks and pillary. But today, it could get the board sued for libel. There are also good and practical reasons for not doing this:

1. All delinquencies are not created equal and not all delinquents are deadbeats. There could be legitimate extenuating circumstances like job loss, disability, divorce, etc.

2. The account might be paid or paid down by the time the list is distributed which makes the information wrong.

3. These are neighbors. Humiliating them is bound to buy long term resentment.

The board should cease this action immediately. If they insist on publishing a list of delinquencies, the amounts, days overdue and action taken will suffice. Names and addresses are unnecessary.

Question: We are in a new HOA where the developer and his employees are still "the board". They are not paying much attention to financial reporting, make decisions without asking or telling us. They use HOA money for what seems to be "developer costs" such as certain landscaping costs to dress up the HOA for sales purposes. It seems like the fox is in the hen house. Is there anything we could do or must we just wait for their time to be up?

Answer: Developers that control the board always have a conflict of interest. They have homes to sell and having them look nice will help move them. However, if the developer is paying for his marketing costs (like enhanced landscaping) out of HOA fees, you have a right to cry "FOUL"! If the developer wants to add flowers and other eye candy that the HOA normally would not do, he needs to pay for it out of his developer marketing budget.

If you are paying HOA fees, you are entitled to see monthly financial (income and expense) reports that detail how that money is being spent. If the developer is allowing things that are clearly prohibited in the governing documents, again, current owners have the right to hold him accountable. The developer is not above the law when it comes to following the governing documents, rules and regulations that other owners are required to follow.

I suggest that you gather owners and compose a letter to the developer listing specific concerns and what you would like to see happen. This makes your complaints a matter of record. If the developer ignores your reasonable requests, a letter from an attorney may be necessary. Smart developers know that once the HOA is turned over to a board of owners, bad things could happen if he has not acted reasonably. Let's hope this one gets the message the first time.

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