Ask the HOA Expert: Governing Documents

Written by Richard Thompson Posted On Thursday, 27 January 2022 00:00

Question: Our governing documents are vague about how to allocate expenses among the unit owners. The board decided to base it on unit square footage.

Answer: If the governing documents don't specifically state otherwise, equal allocation of expenses is the default formula. The board has no authority to change the allocation formula. Only the members themselves have the power to change the allocation formula. And in some states, fees cannot be changed without a 100% agreement of the members and mortgagees so don't waste your time trying.

Question: Can a board member bid on a project to clean the gutters or make small building repairs? We are having trouble finding qualified people to do the little things that need to be done. The present management company say that a board member can not be paid for work.

Answer: Cleaning gutters is not the board's job so the issue of payment does not apply. What does apply is the issue of conflict of interest. If a board member wants to perform work for the HOA, he should be properly licensed and insured to do it. If the remaining directors agree that they want to hire this person, he should step off the board to avoid an obvious conflict of interest. Do one or the other but not both.

Question: I'm confused about what to include in meeting minutes. I always record motions and votes but am uncertain about including details of discussions.

Answer: Details of discussions should not be included in the minutes. The minutes should only include details of reports and actions (motions and votes). Discussions should be left out.

Question: Do most homeowner associations allow window air conditioning units?

Answer: While this varies from HOA to HOA, most don't (or shouldn't) allow them for a variety of reasons. They detract from curb appeal, give off heat, make noise and often leak causing structural dryrot. There are legitimate exceptions the board should make due to a documented health issue that requires air conditioning.

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